A couple of weeks ago, after seeing that Yan Martel’s Life of Pi was soon to be showing in movie theaters, I re-opened some old boxes and blew the dusts out of the paper back copy that was given to me a few years ago by my Canadian friend ‘Toting’. I also PM’ed him in facebook about it having already been made into a movie in case he didn’t know yet.

Thus, I broke my normal way of never re-reading any novel I’ve already read before. Other books I’ve read, also from Toting’s collection, are the books of Anne Rice and Gabriel Garcia Marquez (One Hundred Years of Solitude). Back in college, I’ve also devoured Robert Ludlum’s books. Some of these books have become movies as well but only Life of Pi motivated me to re-read.

Well, my first impression of Yann Martel is that, I think this guy, should I ever be in a conversation with him, is a very talkative one. I would expect to talk less and listen more as he would probably talk a bit too much.

Perhaps it’s just my impatient nature, but I thought he dilly-dalies to much on not very important points and elaborates on everything beyond my level of patience. But then perhaps I just wanted to get to the story of Pi being at sea already.

Inspite of that, I am pleased that he ‘dilly-dallied’ and expressed his views about some major religions- Hindu, Christianity, and Islam.

Of Jesus, he (Pi) asks ‘what kind of a god is this’? He said that this one is a god on too human a scale, having been taught about the Hindu gods who displayed awesome powers beyond human imagination. The Christian God is a pedestrian god, as throughout the bible he just loves to walk, though at some point he did splurge on transportation – with a donkey. He’s also petulant. What kind of a thing is it to wither a fig tree instantly just because it has no figs on it when he happened to be hungry? It was not the season for figs, that’s why. Poor fig tree.

But after much thought and learning about this god, he finally approached Father Martin and said “Father, I would like to be a Christian, please.”

If you’re an atheist, or if you’re someone who has yet to pick a religion, this book will give you enough to know which one to choose. Or, to choose all.

It’s also a very good book about how to deal with animals, especially the ferocious ones.

And how to change your name.

The Life of Pi

Yann Martel’s story telling is so compelling such that any reader, no matter what problem he’s facing at the moment, would be so thankful that he’s not dealing with what Pi was dealing in the story. Perhaps this is why some reader was inspired to say that the book could make you (if you’re an atheist or agnostic) believe in God.

life of pi yann martel

It’s a good thing that Pi was a zookeeper’s son. And not just a zookeeper’s son, (because the zookeeper has one other son who knows everything about a cricket game but nothing about animals), but a son who learned about the animals in their zoo and reads more about other things than any kid his age. These prepared him to face the ordeal of being lost at sea on a lifeboat, and as if this is not difficult enough, he was in the company of a ferocious animal that could tear him to pieces at any moment.

Extending Pi’s drifting to 227 days was no easy story telling feat. That’s why Martel had to insert a living algae island and a blind meeting with another drifter who not very long after became Richard Parker’s dinner. Oh, Richard Parker, that’s the Bengal’s name, by the way. Yes, I know Pi is Hindu. It’s the tiger which is Bengali.

But the living algae island is said to be a symbolism for religion. That it can give stable footing and serve us good for a time, but in the long haul we all have to free ourselves of its hold if we ever desire to attain total freedom.

And so, if you’ve reach this far, I think it’s time you either read the novel or watch the movie – The Life of Pi.

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