This is not a book, it’s a journey

I don't know what parts of Roberts story are true, and it haunts me

I don’t know what parts of Roberts story are true, and it haunts me


I’ll come clean with you, I didn’t like Shantaram for the first 300 pages of the book. I felt like the author was trying to be too wordy a lot of the time, and his endless unnecessary philosophical discussions irritated me more than intrigued me. But then something happened. I’m not sure what exactly, but I managed to not only complete the 900 page tome, but to also fall in love with it.

Shantaram (which means “man of peace” in Maharathi) is a journey of souls. Author Gregory David Roberts has adamantly stated that the book is only based on parts of his life, and that none of the characters are real (though many suspect that Prabaker, the irascible taxi driver, was a real person) but really the book is an artful work of faction (fact and fiction combined). Some of the experiences common to humans are described so accurately and acutely, that I can’t help but suspect those parts of the story are real, especially when dealing with the subjects of death and love.

What is true is that Gregory did escape an Australian prison, he was a junkie, and he did live in an Indian slum in what was Bombay for many years. I don’t want to give too much of the story away, but it is a like a very long love-letter to India. And although it irritated me at first, Gregory’s way with words, the way he can turn a phrase to describe something, is like seeing your hearts’ thoughts on the page in front of you.

It can be a tough and gory read sometimes, but it is nothing short of a modern-day epic. I drank the unforgettable Springfield Estate Whole Berry Cab Sav while reading Shantaram. This wine is hand-crafted using traditional methods, without machines and you can really taste the difference in the fruity palate.

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These guys are so weird its awesome

I love discovering new brands of crazy, and GROUPLOVE definitely fits the bill. These eclectic musicians are on a roll, after the success of their 2011 debut album Never Trust a Happy Song (to be fair, most of their songs sound happy). I recently discovered “Tongue Tied”, a track from that album, only to find that they have just released a new single, “Shark Attack.”

This music video is great and reflects the quirkiness of the band and their music. I have no idea what smashing bottles on ones head has to do with anything, but it’s a great touch. I’m off to see if I can get my hands on the new album…

Welcome to the arena…

Christian fiction can go one of two ways

Christian fiction can go one of two ways

I first discovered this gem in my local library, in the days before Kindles and Amazon. Since then (I was about 16 at the time) I have reread this book (and Karen Hancocks other works of fiction) many, many times.

Arena is a great story, and I’ll tell you why. Christian fiction (especially Christian scifi) can go one of two ways: either it becomes horribly cheesy and drenched in cliches , or it is amazing. For me, this book falls into the latter category.

Arena tells the story of Callie Hayes, a 20-something stuck in a dead-end job and feeling a little lost with life (don’t all 20-somethings?). When participating in science experiments for extra cash with her lifelong friend Meg gets her thrown into another world- The Arena- where she has to battle deadly life forms and evil to get out and make it home.

Hancock skilfully weaves Christian allegory into the battlefield of the Arena that can be both scary and moving at turns. I love this story, and I love the fact that Hancock displays delicate skill in putting together an entertaining read with a moral lesson.

A hard copy of this book (as with most of her works) is really hard to find in SA, but you can order one on most online stores and on most e-readers.

I paired this with the Moya’s Vineyard range. The start-up boutique wine farm only makes two varietals, a pinot noir and a savignon blanc. The pinot is light and a rich ruby colour while the savignon blanc has deep notes of green pepper, due to the dry soil it’s grown in. Like Arena, these wines are pretty hard to get your hands on, but once you find them, it’s worth it.