Eat Pray Love

Eat Pray Love is one of those books I’d been wanting to read for a while but just hadn’t got around to. A few days back I saw it on a friend’s bookshelf and asked if I could borrow it. It’s been a great read. It’s a woman’s journey of self discovery: to find happiness, pleasure and love in her life. Or as the book’s subtitle reads: ‘One Woman’s Search for Everything’.

Liz Gilbert seemingly has everything anyone could ask for: she is a successful writer, is married, has a beautiful house and great family and friends. But at age 31, she finds herself broke- financially and emotionally.  After a long-winded divorce and simultaneous love affair that ends in disaster, she’s left horribly heartbroken and depressed. To pick up the pieces of her life she decides to just leave everything behind and travel for a year to the three ‘I’s: Italy, India and Indonesia and spend four months in each of the places.

She travels to Italy because she has always wanted to learn the Italian language, not for any other reason but that she finds it beautiful. Her journey in Italy was my favourite part of the book. It is dedicated to the pursuit of pleasure, which in her case is in the form of lounging around in the sun near beautiful fountains and gardens, exploring the different cities in Italy at a leisurely pace (but mainly Rome where she is based), making friends, learning and practising Italian with new friends and strangers; and most importantly eating massive quantities of amazing food: fresh pasta and pizza, farm fresh vegetables, fish and meats and amazing gelato and pastries. She would just go to a restaurant based on recommendations and without even looking at the menu and ask the proprietor to bring her something great to eat and most of the time, she would be blown away by what was laid in front of her. Reading about her experience, I just wanted to visit Italy again and experience everything the way she did.

She had been introduced to a spiritual healer through her ex-boyfriend and had started meditation which brought her solace. So she decides to go to the Ashram of her guru in India and devote 4 months to spiritually cleanse her life. That part of the book was not an easy read and its not meant to be either I guess. She talks about her spiritual experiences, beliefs of the Yogic practice and her struggles with certain practices which were a reflection of her own ego or inner state. Having lately been struggling spiritually, I realize the importance of spirituality in one’s life to fill an internal void. I wish the book had inspired me enough to whip a prayer mat and start my own prayer/meditation, but unfortunately as I could hardly relate to some of her almost out-of-body experiences, this wasn’t the case. I agree that in such cases, having guidance and someone to talk to really helps.

Her last stop was in Bali, Indonesia where she had been a few years ago and had found the place the most beautiful she’d ever been to. She figures that after her indulgences in Italy and her abstinence in India, she will use her time in Bali to find balance in her life in beautiful surroundings. As the names alludes to, there she not only finds happiness but also love.

The book is a great read and thoroughly entertaining even if it is essentially one woman’s self- obsessed ruminations. But that’s where the writer is so gifted: she sustains your interest through her journey of self-discovery for nearly 350 pages. Parts of the book are witty, parts are heartbreaking but most of it is so beautifully written. Her honesty about her failings and her ability to analyze her own life and come out on the other side victorious is absolutely inspiring. She makes you want to throw caution to the wind, pack your bags and leave on your own journey to places where you’ve always wanted to go to and do the things you’ve been storing in the recesses of your mind.

ps. Next stop: I have to watch the film!

True Partnership

وَمِنْ آيَاتِهِ أَنْ خَلَقَ لَكُم مِّنْ أَنفُسِكُمْ أَزْوَاجًا لِّتَسْكُنُوا إِلَيْهَا وَجَعَلَ بَيْنَكُم مَّوَدَّةً وَرَحْمَةً ۚ إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَاتٍ لِّقَوْمٍ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ

“And among His Signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that ye may dwell in tranquillity with them, and He has put love and mercy between you. Verily in that are Signs for those who reflect.” (30:21)

This is an amazing verse about the partnership in marriage. The two words ‘Love’ and ‘Mercy’ stand out for me. The word مَّوَدَّةً (‘Muaddah’) refers to attraction and love. It’s root in Arabic ودد (‘Wad’) refers to mutual love – like a nail that joins two things to mutually strengthen each other.

The word رَحْمَةً (‘Rahmah’) translated as ‘Mercy’ (but it’s a lot more than that), is derived from رَحْم (‘Rhm’) which refers to an action compensating external or internal deficiency. In this case, the two partners strive to bring out the best in each other by compensating for each other’s weaknesses.

Interestingly, the word ‘Rhm’ also means the womb of a mother. An unborn child is provided everything necessary (provided strength in the state of absolute dependency) for it’s development.