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Washalaski, M.


5/17

posted May 16, 2010, 1:49 PM by M W

What do you think of Salim's decision to give Ahmed, the hit man, a picture of Maman? Did Salim have another choice? Is he guilty of murder? Did Ram have other options besides throwing Shantaram down the stairs? Are these violent acts justifiable considering the behavior of the victims?
 
I believe Salim changed the picture for more of a selfish person, but at least the person he swapped it with was someone deserving of it. I suppose Salim really didn't have another choice if he wanted to continue having his shot at an acting career. For one thing, he needed Maman gone so he wouldn't be found by him, but also because if Salim had just thrown away the envelope Ahmed would of known and he would of probably had no problem with killing Salim to keep him quiet.
Ram didn't really have another option besides his violent act either. The owner of the Chawl didn't care to do anything when Ram went to him, he just said that it happens all the time and its best to just look the other way. Ram was a poor orphan child, who would of listened to him? Who would of cared if acts like that happen all the time and in the poor community? Police are corrupt, they do not care about the poor unless it is them who they are arresting. I cant say whether they are justifiable or not because two wrongs don't make a right, but those two men really were deserving something to come along and happen. And pushing Shantaram down the stairs ended up making him stop his abusive and drunken ways. Who really knows what a person deserves? But maybe sometimes the right choices of what needs to happen to a certain person, are in fact in our own hands.

5/10

posted May 16, 2010, 1:33 AM by M W

Considering he believes he's already murdered two people, why is Ram unable to kill Prem Kumar?
 
Both of Rams assumed killings were done in a sort of blind furry of either anger or fear. When Ram presumably kills Gudiya's father, he does it out of anger. He is angry at this perverted drunk for hurting and touching his 'sister'. He charges and pushes him over the railing and to the ground below. Then he picks up and leaves thinking he has murdered a man. The next incident, on the train with the daciot, Ram doesn't even realize whats happening until after he's killed the man. He was so afraid of what was happening and what was going to happen to the young woman riding with him, that he saw something else in his head while he was struggling to get the gun and eventually kill the robber. When it came to Prem Kumar, it wasn't something happening right at that moment or it wasn't something he had done and was about to do again. It didn't create instant adrenaline. The way it was with Prem Kumar, Ram had kept patience, he had been standing next to him the entire night he and had been talking with him. This probably kept up a sense of anticipation but not one of cold blooded murder. Ram is older, and is more sensible and this time he has something to loose. Before in the two scenarios, he really had nothing to loose. He had to just get up and leave Salim the first time, and the second time he had to hop off his train and try to start over again, but when it came to Prem Kuma, Ram had something that he really couldn't loose and that was Nita. He loved her and wanted to marry her. Yes take revenge for her, but even so he wouldn't of been able to have her. He would of either gone to jail for the rest of his life probably, or had to start all over again.

5/3

posted May 16, 2010, 12:55 AM by M W

What are Ram's ambitions in life? Why does he tell Prem Kumar he doesn't know how he's going to spend the billion rupees?
 
When Ram gets to the show, he really only has one ambition. And that is to marry Nita, a prostitute. Without knowing the story behind it, it would seem to be a pretty bizarre thing to do and also give off a bad impression. But also, probably because Ram doesn't want Prem Kumar to know there is any connection between the two of them or even be suspicious of one. In order for Ram to explain how he would spend the rupees would mean he would have to explain how Nita got extremely hurt from a client, which in the end you discover is Prem Kumar. Ram has other ambitions in life though, but its odd because from a point of view of a person who has not read the stories behind it all, everything he does after winning would seem rather odd. How he narked out that "school" he and Salim attended with the crippled children. How he released a poor maid from jail, and produced a movie just for his best friend to act in. Its sort of a relief Ram didn't splurge his money on everything pointless, while of course he did spend it on himself like anyone would, he was selfless and remembered his colorful past which all contributed to him winning the money in the first place.

4/26

posted Apr 28, 2010, 9:49 PM by M W

In telling Gudiya's story, Ram asks, "But what was Gudiya's crime? Simply that she was born a girl and Shantaram was her father?" (p. 68). Are there other women in this novel who are treated poorly simply because of their sex? Do any female characters not need Ram's protection? How would you describe his relationships with women?
 
It appears in India, women are commonly victimized to cruel and abusive crimes. While that happens all over the world, it stuck out how common it was. And how easily most people just looked the other way. Its not so much, it seems, as though women are inferior when it comes to jobs and their intelligence, but when it comes to being something for men to ogle at and to pretty much use or treat as something they possess. Gudiya wasn't the only girl who needed help from Ram, that girl on the train who's family he sat with, Meenakshi, was going to be raped by the robber but Ram stepped in, sort of without knowing it, and ended up killing him. He saved Meenakshi and most likely other passengers and also a lot of future people that man would of robbed and raped or killed. Rams relationship with women, is not great because he too ogles at women, a lot. And very frequently has them or more or less their bodies, on his mind. But he is in fact a boy in the teenage and young adult age range in these stories, so its sorta expected. And the main difference, is that doesn't interfere with the way he actually treats women. He doesn't commit to these horrible acts because of these fascinations.

4/19

posted Apr 28, 2010, 5:16 PM by M W

Why does Vikas Swarup choose the name "Ram Mohammad Thomas" for his protagonist?
 
Originally in the beginning of the book Ram was given a Christian name by Father Timothy because he was abandoned at the same Christian church twice and did not yet have a name. So Father Timothy gave him the name Joseph Michael Thomas. That name didn't last very long though, because about a week later two men from the All Faith Committee warned Father Timothy against keeping his name what it was. There was strong resentment in the area against conversion and Father Timothy had no way of knowing what religion his new orphan really was. So they debated over Hindu names and Muslim names because again, they didn't know what his religion was. Eventually they decided to give him a blended name of all three religions and he was saddled with Ram Mohammad Thomas. I think Vikas Swarup used this name in a way to show the diversity of India right in his main character. But its not just with his name; through every story Ram tells to Smita, no matter how different they are from the last, they all draw insight onto the culture and personality of India. From the rich to the poor. From the natives to the foreigners. One thing I find interesting, is that Ram is not a very religious individual. Even though his name shows connection to the three religions, was raised by a Father, or that his best friend is Muslim.

4/12

posted Apr 12, 2010, 2:43 PM by M W

What lessons have you learned from this story?
 
I don't know if you would really call it lessons, but reading this book has taught me a  lot of things. Before I read Enrique's Journey, the thoughts of immigrants, legal or not, never really crossed my mind. The only times the ideas would enter my mind would be when I'd hear my parents or other adults in my family discuss it quickly if it came up from something. I'm very grateful for reading this book because now I know and understand better on a more personal basis of why so many people from Central America and Mexico are trying so desperately to get into America. Along with the fact I've never tried to, I've never actually envisioned what the journey might be like for someone to travel so far from everything they have ever known to go to an alien world. It surprised me at how much it is in fact dangerous and all the risks people are willing to take. What also never occurred to me that i have learned from this story, is the motives. Not just in a general aspect of "to live a better life" but more in depth than that. I didn't realize how many mothers are willing to leave behind what is most precious to them to try and make more money to give their children a better chance of becoming successful in life. A big surprise was that there was children attempting this extremely dangerous journey. I could not place myself in their situation and possibly be brave enough or have the street smarts i would need to survive.

4/5

posted Apr 4, 2010, 11:06 PM by M W

Do you know anyone like a character in this story?
 
While I may not be close to him, whenever I read more and more of Enrique's Journey, I can't help but think of my father. While they're situations in getting to American may have been greatly different, their experiences before leaving their home countries share some similarities. My father's mother may not have left when he was just a baby, but when he was a young teenager, she left Ecuador to travel to America to make more money. She couldn't afford to keep living the way they were in Ecuador although it was just her and my father because all of his other siblings were well into their adult years when he was born. When she left, my father didn't feel like he had a home. She was gone for a few years and he was made to live with the neighbors and share a bed with their 17 year old daughter. He didn't like the new way he had to live, but he was used to having a rough time since growing up he and his mom were deep in poverty. After a few years, unlike Enrique's mother, she was able to come back to Ecuador and retrieve my father and take him to America as well. Where he grew up the rest of his teenage life, went to college and eventually met my mother, which led to me being born. My father may not of had to go on a perilous journey to reach his mother and America, but he did have to suffer through abandonment and living extremely poor until his arrival here where he was able to make a better life for himself. Although there is extreme tension between me and him through years of poor parenting and multiple other reasons, reading this book reminds me of him and what it must of felt like on the inside for him when his mother left and how he dealt with it. And also why he didn't chose to follow her, like Enrique did.

3/22

posted Mar 22, 2010, 10:22 AM by M W

What does the author mean when she says that for these children, finding their mothers “becomes the quest for the Holy Grail”?

For starters, I think the author chose a very good metaphor to describe the importance and intense desire for the children on this journey to reach their goal. Mother is god in the eyes of a child. And growing up without a mom, especially in a latino culture, as it is mentioned many times, where family is all-important, its a really hard thing to do. In any culture though, your mom leaving you as she goes to a new country is a hard thing to deal with. Some of these children understand somewhat of why their mother left, but mostly they can't get the pangs of loneliness and wonders of if she left because she didn't love them, to go away. These children need answers and for the ache to stop; they need their mother, even through years of separation, the most important thing in their lives. At some point, there's just no more waiting for these kids. Typically around the age of fifteen, but some as young as nine, they decide to set out on a journey. An extremely dangerous journey that could take their lives in the most brutal ways, but they still do it. And sometimes they don't stop, even after countless deportations or loss of limb, robbery, beatings, or rape, they keep going. Finding their mother is the ultimatum. Their desire, their quest, for the greatest thing amongst all other riches. Their quest for the Holy Grail.

3/15

posted Mar 14, 2010, 8:20 PM by M W

Why do you think the co-author, Judy A. Bernstein, opens the memoir with an Introduction and ends it with an Epilogue
 
In any book it is important to have background information. Whether the book is fiction or nonfiction. With no background information, how will the reader fully understand what is going on? With most stories the author can typically easily embed the needed information into the beginning of the story. With this type of book, since it is made up of memoirs, sort of like the pages of a diary, you wouldn't include background information if you already know your situation. The author needed to tell of how these boys came to write they're stories that are in the pages of the book. Also it was important to have an epilogue because they boy's writings ended with their plan ride to the US. Knowledge of what happened afterwards is important to the story as well. To understand that through all of the hardships the boys faced, damaging them, and robbing them of their childhood, they are doing their very best to try and live a good life here in America; in California. Also its important to, hopefully, answer questions. For example, Bernstein mentions what happened to the system that brought Benson, Benjamin, and Alepho to America when "9/11" happened. Also she explained what could of been another question some readers could have; what about any "Lost Girls" Its important to address certain aspects of what can come to a readers mind when they choose to read They Poured Fire On Us From the Sky.

3/8

posted Mar 8, 2010, 10:39 AM by M W

Most of us can only remember a few events from our early life.  What do you think accounts for the three boys being able to remember so much detail?

Most of us growing up haven't been separated from our parents by a bloody war, nearly starve to death, and walk miles and miles to try and find safety. These boys have experienced extremely traumatic events in their lives, especially at such a young age. Events such as these embed themselves in the mind of the observer and scar them for life. They will always remember what awful and terrible things they had to suffer through. Sometimes the human mind survives by forgetting, aka suppressed memories, but other times, it becomes one of the clearest things you can see and remember. While our memories our no where near as extreme, we only remember things from when we were little that were either traumatic or exciting. Like, you may not remember waking up and what shoes you put on a random day when you were six years old, but you'd remember being surprised to either finding out your cats run away, your grandpa is in the hospital, or your family is taking you to Disney Land. These boys had to deal with a traumatic experience everyday of their life. Countless countless hardships and awful things no body, especially little boys, should experience. All of these memories and the details from them shape and form who these boys are. They will not forget what made them into who they are.

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