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Description de l’éditeur
A flip through the newspaper or a glance at the evening news reveals a world in which old ways are dying and new worlds are beginning, often in the midst of violence and chaos. In the face of these massive changes and disruptions, many people are questioning their roles as individuals: Why am I here? What is my purpose?
In Familiar Strangers, Gotham Chopra travels from China, Sri Lanka, and Kashmir to Chechnya and the Yucatán in search of answers to these age-old spiritual questions. Everywhere he goes, he encounters people who have had to dig within themselves to survive horrible realities and bear heart-wrenching losses. From his New York to Los Angeles flight on September 11, 2001 to a harrowing week spent among young boys toting guns in the contested hills of Kashmir and a sojourn in a small Yucatán village where he witnesses firsthand the collision between the romance of the past and the uncertain promise of the future, Chopra shares the wisdom, idealism, and sense of purpose he found in ordinary people living under extraordinary circumstances.
Rich in drama and insights into cultures far different from our own, the stories Chopra recounts articulate, as well, anxieties and fears we all share. While acknowledging that his travels often take him to the extreme edges of civilized society, Chopra shows that the questions that arise in times of peril or in the face of great dangers are not so different from what many of us ask in the course of our daily lives–whether after a grueling eighty-hour work week, a six-hour exam, or a fiery argument with a lover. The challenge, he argues, is to use these moments of revelation as the first step in moving beyond self-imposed fears and limits and embracing new opportunities for spiritual growth.
This curious amalgam of New Age spirituality and war reporting is the second book from the second generation of Chopra ruminators. (Gotham is the son of bestselling author Deepak; his first book of nonfiction was Child of the Dawn.) Its framework is ambitious for such a slim volume. Examining nine steps drawn from the life story of Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha "fare," fear, refuge, surrender, discipline, temptation, freedom, compassion and death Chopra travels to the world's hot spots (including Pakistan, China, Kashmir and the Yucat n) as a correspondent for Channel One. Although accounts of touring Chechnya with a band of unpredictable Russian guides and meeting with members of the Sri Lankan army referred to by the State Department as a "pack of bloodthirsty murderers" are gripping, Chopra's analysis of age-old conflicts seems strained and oversimplified. Unfortunately, he's not always mindful of the warning he receives from a recalcitrant Yucat n elder who accuses him of being an analyzer rather than a watcher: "There's a difference between witnessing the world as it is and trying to force your own reason around it." Chopra is at his best writing what he knows, especially when he interviews a Hindu uncle who was living in Lahore when Pakistan secured official partition from India in 1947. This account of the death of another relative at the hands of an angry Muslim mob is worthy of a book unto itself in fact, it may just be the saving grace of this one.