The Eat, Pray, Love Read-along is supposed to finish by 7 March. My apologies that the review is late although I managed to finish the book by 4 March. I understand now why some books are meant to be re-read because I got a lot more out from re-reading of this book than my first read. The second time around makes me appreciate Italy segment a little more and I got a lot more out of it.
Now to answer some discussion questions (may contain spoilers):
Prayer and meditation are both things that can be learned and, importantly, improved. In India, Gilbert learns a stoic, ascetic meditation technique. In Bali, she learns an approach based on smiling. Do you think the two can be synergistic? Or is Ketut Liyer right when he describes them as “same-same”?
Being a person, as Gilbert describe, with a ‘Monkey Mind’, a mind that won’t sit still for a moment that allows a bird to perch on my head, I am not a good spoke person for any kind of meditation techniques. The Buddhist chant once lulled me to sleep and I suppose that is one instance when my mind is still, because I was asleep! I surely think all forms of meditations can be synergistic and Ketut Liyer is right. The important criteria for a meditation to work is to clear your mind of clutter and mediation can be part of worship. It is great if you experience Levitation, don’t beat yourself up if you don’t!
Sitting in an outdoor café in Rome, Gilbert’s friend declares that every city—and every person—has a word. Rome’s is “sex,” the Vatican’s “power”; Gilbert declares New York’s to be “achieve,” but only later stumbles upon her own word,antevasin, Sanskrit for “one who lives at the border.” What is your word? Is it possible to choose a word that retains its truth for a lifetime? What is your city’s word?
London, is the city I work in, the word to describe is ‘diverse’, not only in terms of skin colours of its inhabitants but in nationalities. The word appropriately describes the city I live in, Reading, is “balance”. Not too rural, not too metropolitan. With its rivers, forests and parks, it provides suburban tranquillity and convenience that strikes a good balance in my life.
As the one word for me, what is the word? Hmmmm… I thought hard about this question, and for a long while couldn’t find a word for myself. Then two days before I am suppose to write my review, the word ‘transient’ came into my head.
We all know the moment of our lives on earth is transient, evidence through the recent natural disasters, revolutions and wars that are happening so rampant now. The word ‘transient’ for me besides holding the meaning of what I have just mentioned, it also means the existence of my days in one place, or one country, or one job became transient. It filters down to my shopping choices, in which for everything I buy I do not hope it to remain forever with me, which also means I don’t crave for a Mansion, a Yacht or a sport car; it makes me feel indifference to obstacles and tragedy or the losses that I may experienced. It also prepares me for any surprises or shocks that may happened during the course of my life. I am not sure if it works to my favour or not, but the word ‘transient’ aptly describes what I am feeling right now and I suspect for some time in the future.
After imagining a petition to God for divorce, an exhausted Gilbert answers her phone to news that her husband has finally signed. During a moment of quietude before a Roman fountain, she opens her Louise Glück collection to a verse about a fountain, one reminiscent of the Balinese medicine man’s drawing. After struggling to master a 182-verse daily prayer, she succeeds by focusing on her nephew, who suddenly is free from nightmares. Do these incidents of fortuitous timing signal fate? Cosmic unity? Coincidence?
In what ways is spiritual success similar to other forms of success? How is it different? Can they be so fundamentally different that they’re not comparable?
I believe other kind of successes boil down to nothing if you do not have spiritual success. While other successes, mostly material, may brings momentary sense of fulfilment, they don’t last. Spiritual success helps me to make sense of every day’s happenings. Spiritual success makes one become a better person. Spiritual success brings financial success and mind and mental health. Spiritual success is a journey, it is so fundamentally different that it is not comparable.
What is one thing you did not like about the book or disagreed with?
The incident about Wayan delaying her purchase of her home not until she had to be threatened with Gilbert’s lies before Wayan took action; left a bad taste in my mouth. Although character Felipe said “You need to understand the thinking in Bali. It’s a way of life here for people to try to get the most money they can out of visitors. It’s how everyone survives. You must not think that she’s not a good person.” I find it hard to separate so-called cultural implications from decency and cannot buy into that argument. Good thing the movie portrayed Wayan in a better light.
The part about over philosophising about Indian meditation can get a bit weary and that sort of brings down the high of her experience in Italy to a low in India.
If you were able to travel for a year, where would you go and why?
Excuse me for sounding trite, but I think I like to go visit places that holy men and prophets have treaded before, i.e. Jerusalem, Nazareth and Middle East. Although some parts are more dangerous than the rest, I still aspire to pay homage or do pilgrimage to Jeruselam which inspires three major religions of the world. If all else fail and if I could get pass the high altitude, Tibet would be an ideal spiritual place to visit. The reason that I chosen these places is because while we are at the topic of spirituality these are ideal places to experience it, but more so because I prefer to visit ancient and archaeological sites, and these are travellers must-see.
And other questions raised by my fellow read-along friends:
Why do you think Liz mentioned Luca Spaghetti’s name in full throughout her book?
Because his last name is funny?
How does Richard relate Groceries to big eater?
Richard said he never saw anyone enjoy food as much as Gilbert does. Well, I don’t think so with Julia Roberts. She didn’t look as if she is much of a glut. She is as thin as she is before she began her journey in the movie.
When Gilbert wrote this, do you think she writes for a women audience or both gender, do you think a man would want to read about a woman’s search for this and that?
Maybe not but spiritual pursuit and fulfilment is something everyone should strive for. A lot of what she wrote are girlie stuff, like weight gain, shopping and all, but I think there could be a lot of take aways from her book for general audience, life philosophy, attainment of enlightenment or a peace of mind, forgiveness etc etc you catch the drift.
What do you think a man can get out of this book?
How to treat a woman right.
Sorry, you asked and I will answer. I hate leaving questions unanswered. 😉
As for you, my reader friends out there, feel free to chip in your views!
As for the movie, it started off well without the tearful bawl or ranting as much as the book displayed. I was thankful I was spared of that. The exotic scenes of the three countries were beautiful, the aerial view of the rice terrace in Bali especially so. However the movie went downhill from Italy onwards. First Gilbert, the author of the book appears to be a bubbly and cheerful soul in the book, whereas Julia Robert appears glum almost prosaic throughout the movie.
At the end of the movie, just when you thought she had achieved the right balance and constantly filmed with a rotating view of Julia sitting under a Balinese gazebo in a lotus position meditating, she has to go into this by-the-beach screaming ad ranting about why she is afraid of falling in love with this Brazillian guy and the whole drama of being afraid of falling in love again. Well the real Gilbert didn’t have any qualms about it!
The crying episodes of Richard the Texan on the rooftop of the Ashram was too much to watch, I fast forward it, as with many parts of the movie, I was constantly on the Fast Forward button. It is just pathetic to see a grown man cry. These scenes are not part of the deal, not part of the story of the book. The movie starts to feel very Hollywoody towards the end.
Try the book if you want to, but don’t bother about the movie. 🙂