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Monday, February 26, 2018

Book Review: The Buddha of The Brothel by Kris Advaya

Title: The Buddha of the Brothel          Author: Kris Advaya
Category: Fiction
Publisher: Fingerprint Publishers
Price: 209
Pages: 336

The first impression this book has on you, is through its blurb which bears similarities and states out-rightly and surprisingly, that the book would appeal to "Shantaram" lovers. Though similar broadly, the trajectory of this book is very different. The blurb does no justice to its contents except for its declaration of being a "true story". That combined with the writing style was the reason I decided to review it.

A true story- a depiction of life is a fine concoction of a bland and as tasteful in different pockets, as life itself. This book does complete justice to this balance, that being its greatest merit. It unlike movies or some books that aim to make the reader enjoy, make a true story larger than life, the irony of which I could never appreciate. This is the story of the author, Kris from Slovenia, an emotional being troubled by his own share of life experiences comes to India to learn Ayurvedic massage. On this path to spirituality, he has practiced celibacy for years and yet one glance on Radha, a prostitute in Pune's red-light area, makes him fall in love. Love in these circumstances too is depicted in its reality, beginning with desire, growing further towards dreams of ever-lasting companionship. His mind is however not conflicted by feelings of being in love after ages, but the demons lie in the world his lady-love resides in. He tests his feelings on multiple levels and finds it to be true, however the inner workings of this world aren't as simple or solvable. Kris will have to, on every stage do a lot of questioning within himself, to come up with answers, for life. This is his life most critical and difficult mission. 

His journey through mostly the west and south India takes us sometimes to beautiful landscapes, and the travel writing was refreshingly good, making the reader travel. Though the repetitions of train journeys, each time could be avoided. In some part the book will delve deep, while the authors is in 'self-thinking" mode, and these are the most well written parts, the rest of it fades in comparison. The depths of Indian ashrams, sex market in the country, etc. is written about but these aspects aren't written in depths Shantaram went into with Mumbai underworld. If that is what you are looking for this book isn't for you.

The book is a journey of finding oneself and love. It as all the elements of confusion, self questioning, experimentation, discovery, love, realizations and to some extent action. It is beautiful for it is relatable, for each of us at some stage of life or another (not as bizarre or dangerous as Kris's) have gone through this period of deep self questioning, self doubt and signals from the universe. We have received love from the barren lands, a warm smile from tormented lives and beauty in ugliest settings of the world. A few pages from a fellow beings life is what you will live through this book called - The Buddha of the Brothel.

RC Rating: 4/5.  A life story is always better than fiction. Recommended especially for lovers of the written word. The language is your treat, the metaphors your balm and wound too. 

About the Author: Kris Advaya emerged from the void in Yugoslavia in the spring of 1976. After crawling his way through a stint in the military, and already multilingual, he spent five years studying French, Russian, and literature at the University of Ljubljana. Always artistic, he spent most of these years writing songs and abusing an electric guitar while playing with his alternative rock band. Soon afterwards, life took him to India and its enticing ways, and he’s been trying to cure himself of nomadism ever since.

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