12 12 2010

Just finished Elizabeth Gilbert’s Committed. As I’ve written in an earlier post, Committed is a kind of sequel to the more well-known Eat, Pray, Love. In Committed, the author explored many aspects of marriage: history, expectations, women, infatuation and the like. It sure was interesting.

On the other note, I felt that the way she defended single ladies was so comical. She proclaimed that single women are an inevitable part of evolution; that they are saviors of the society and blah, blah, blah. For me, all this just made me sense her desperation. It seemed as if she needed the readers to validate her choices and opinions. She was so defensive.

In the end, she seemed to accept that marriage might not be unpleasant after all. But not really! She has her own terms and ideas of marriage, which is of course totally fine. She very conveniently “forgot” to mention any of the numerous benefits of marriage, verified by a number of research studies. No worries.

But somehow I’m not convinced that she had made her peace with “marriage”, as she claimed. Not at least with the kind of marriage I’m aware of.

Eat, Pray, Love

4 12 2010

I have little talent for writing book reviews. In fact, it is apt not to regard them as “reviews”.  As anyone who reads my blabbering about the books I read, can tell, I just try to pen down certain, often incoherent, thoughts. And presently, I do just the same.

I have put off reading this bestseller by Elizabeth Gilbert for quite a while but in the end I gave in. I believed that one western woman’s personal journey wouldn’t interest me much but the book surprised me.  The author’s colloquial and witty expression impressed me. Above all, I was smitten by the honesty, which the woman has put forth into the words.

The first part of the book- being all about pleasure (of food and language) – had been a pleasant read. I was struck by the urge of the author to learn Italian for no other purpose than to feel the taste of those magical words on her tongue. I appreciated that a lot.

Being an Indian with ideas about spirituality of my own, the “Pray” part was not entirely unfamiliar to me. But reading a westerner’s perspective on the subject was a novel experience for me. I especially liked the way she explained complex spiritual concepts – in a simple and straight-forward manner.

The final part of the book is the one which I considered least captivating but it was fun to learn things about Bali.

Unfortunately, I found myself unable to empathize with the author. Frankly, I could neither understand her need to not have children nor her misery in her marriage. I felt many a times while reading the book that she is a very self-centered person – who always thinks only about herself and only from her perspective. It also struck me that in the modern western culture, it’s largely that way in relationships: each person cares for only what he/she gets out of a relationship or the other person. As long as everything goes right and their needs are met, the relationship flourishes. But as soon as some calamity occurs, the relationship ends.  I don’t want to sound as a bigot but it’s just my general perception. (I may be wrong too!)

This selfish nature was evident even in her brief affair soon after her marriage ended. Both she and her boyfriend were looking at only the reflection of their own needs and desires in the other person. No wonder they had to end their relationship.

Whenever two people are in a relationship, they need to treat that relationship as a third entity and nurture it.  There is nothing called a perfect match, where none is required to make certain adjustments.   To my knowledge, every relationship requires certain degree of compromise on the part of its entities. There is always – ” give and take”.  I safely assumed that it’s obvious to one and all that once you are in a relationship, you think and decide for your partner’s happiness too in addition to yours.

I was baffled to know that even people who are in their thirties, with enough life and experience behind them, fail to understand such a simple concept. But such was the case with this woman. And no where in the whole book, did she realize this.

I know I’m not being fair with this woman – who is from a different culture and background than myself. And given my own cultural stereotypes, I admit that my judgment might be a bit skewed.

And then I started reading Elizabeth’s next non-fiction work: Committed, in which she talked all about Marriage. I was relieved to find her more mature in this work.  In addition to admitting to her narcissistic nature, she even talked wisely about relationships. While “Committed” might seem less attractive a read compared to her “Eat, Pray, Love”, it does have many pearls of wisdom. None of them are new or groundbreaking but still are invaluable. Again, I was bowled over by her honesty. She is one hell of a brave lady.