I've been reading again. This book was a joy and a very quick read. The book is Tiger Heart, by Katrell Christie and Shannon McCaffrey.
Katrell Christie shares her story of India. The book opens and we are right in the middle of the action. Katrell receives a phone call that is more of a summons with an intimidating directive. "The Indian Defense Minister wants to see you. Be here in twenty minutes."
This is how Katrell begins to tell her story of how she came to be in India and how she came to be summoned by the Defense Minister.
Katrell has an eclectic list of snippets that she used to describe who she is. It's interesting to see the list that she chooses as her quintessential definition of herself. My favorite snippets include the fact that she skated competitive Roller Derby. --That right there impresses me. I've watched Roller Derby...I've been to a Roller Derby and marveled at their speed and grit.
Another favorite is that she once made a living going to Italy to buy art for a client. And she opened her own tea shop. (Though she says she prefers coffee.)
Lastly, she says "And on a restless whim, I took a trip to India."
I was hooked right away. This woman has a heart for adventure. How does one go from what she calls a "spontaneous jaunt" to India to sitting with the Defense Minister? As Katrell says, the trip turned her life into a new direction.
I was in the perfect place to read about an adventure to India. I think because my yoga practice has me thinking about Sanskrit I've been visualizing the country.
Katrell began her adventure by joining a friend on a work mission. Her friend is working with the women that create pearl necklaces. Their goal is to teach the women how to turn their work into a sustainable business. This ends up being a very small part of Katrell's trip. She finds other ways to become involved.
One of my favorite scenes is when Katrell first arrived in India she is alone. She will be meeting her friend in another city in a few days. She decides to take a train to Varanasi, the holiest of the seven sacred cities of Hinduism. Katrell chose this as her destination based on the photos in her Lonely Planet book. --I'm telling you, I believe this woman and I could be friends.
When she arrived at her hotel in the middle of the night, she asks the hotel owner for tips on local sights. He answers with "Before dawn, follow the orange."
And so, Katrell ventures out (before dawn) to find and follow the orange. First she sees one monk dressed in a traditional orange robe and she sets out to follow him. As she begins to follow the monk a crowd grows and she is "swept up in a sea of orange." To avoid any spoilers, I will simply tell you that Katrell's pilgrimage that morning is richly rewarded.
When Katrell joins her friend working with the women who string pearls, she decides to volunteer at the school. It does not take long for Katrell to fall in love with the people she is getting to know.
Katrell candidly shares her experience that grew into a huge part of her life. One that she has championed beyond her story. Through her telling, I fell in love with the people whose lives she touches and whose lives touched hers. I highly recommend this read.
One last thing, Katrell told her story with the help of Shannon McCaffrey. I don't want to minimize McCaffrey's contribution. This was the first opportunity I had to read any of McCaffrey's work and I found her writing to be completely beautiful. I speak of Katrell throughout this post because the book is told from her point of view and it is really her story. Together, through the magic of collaboration, the story is told beautifully.
Have a great weekend!
I received an early copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.