16 October 2017

The cat’s table




Book: The Cat’s Table
Author: Michael Ondjaate
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4/5
The boat came breasting out of the mist and in they stepped. 
All new things in life were meant to come like that...

Life is indeed a journey and probably one by a ship meeting different people from around the world experiencing adventures as you navigate the choppy sea of life. 

The cats table is a book by Michael Ondaatje, whom I have been wanting to read for some time. A slice of life lived well packed in about 350 pages. What is cats table? Just like you have captains table there is a category furthermost called Cats Table - the least privileged table. 

Michael travels with his two companions Ramadin and Cassius from Sri Lanka to Britain in 1950s to live a better life - changing from a native to an immigrant, from  childhood to adult, from one to someone else. 

A journey becomes from good to great with the number of adventures undertaken, the unique characters encountered and the new lands and worlds travelled to. And cats table has everything and something of everything. From the boys tying themselves on the deck during a sea storm, to slipping into rooms thru windows at the persuasion of a robber, smuggling a dog on the ship, to stealing food from first class and hiding on rescue boats, the adventures are nostalgic of a young and free life. Meeting a band of unique characters like a magician, a biologist, a historian, a dog care taker, a musician, a prisoner, a gambler, a detective, a tailor, an Ayurvedic doctor and a rich philanthropist with rabies - travel opens up the world for you like nothing else.

Cats table is a must if you live journeys - not travel but true life changing journeys where you find yourself or you loose yourself. But they stay with you and define your life forever. This book could very well be ‘life of pie’ if he wouldn’t have been lost in the voyage, or ‘motorcycle diaries’ of it was set on a cruise ship rather than wilderness of South America. Michael Ondjaate is a storyteller to watch out for, weaving his tale of adventure and innocence from one world to another, from one life to another.

Do I say more... read his own words! 

He had a serenity that came with the choice of life he wanted to live. And this serenity and certainty I have seen Only among those who have the armour of books close by. 

She could be whimsical. ‘Why is it when I hear the phrase “trompe l’oeil” I think of oysters?’

Sri Lanka has always enjoyed the merging of of classical first names with Sinhalese last names.

Every immigrant family, it seems, has someone who does not belong in the new country they have come to. It feels like permanent exile to that one brother or wife who cannot stand a silent fate and remain haunted by persistent ghost of an earlier place. 

In our twenties we are busy becoming other people. 

Fonseka’s passion for knowledge always had within it the added pleasure of his sharing it. 

In the great centers of power, you see, competition is based not so much on winning but in stopping your enemy from achieving what he or she really wants. 

I don’t think you can love me into safety.

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