Monday, May 31, 2010

Three Cups of Tea

Three Cups of Tea by Greg MOrtenson and David Oliver Relin (2006) is a great read.

Lost after failing to reach the top of K2, [he came within 300m of the top] Mortenson was sheltered for seven weeks in the small, remote Pakistani village of Korphe; he promised to return and build them a school. Keeping that promise led to his heading a charitable institute that provides impoverished children in Pakistan and Afghanistan with an education.

Coauthor Relin recounts Mortenson's efforts in detail, presenting portraits of village elders, con artists, philanthropists, mujahideen, Taliban officials, ambitious school girls and upright Muslims.

As the book moves into the post-9/11 world, Mortenson and Relin argue that the West and especially the United States must fight Islamic extremism in the region through collaborative efforts to alleviate poverty and improve access to education, especially for girls.

At one point, as Mortenson is pushing the villagers to work hard so that the school would be open before winter arrived, Haji Ali, the village elder and his first Balti friend, who was so appreciative of all that Mortenson was doing for them, asked if he would do one more thing for them
"Anything," Mortenson said
"Sit down. And shout your mouth," Haji Ali said. "You're making everyone crazy."
[As they drank scalding butter tea, Haji Ali spoke]
"If you want to thrive in Baltistan, you must respect our ways.... The first time you share tea with a Balti, you are a stranger. The second time you take tea, you are an honored guest. The third time you share a cup of tea, you become family, and for our family we are prepared to do anything, even die... must take time to share three cups of tea."
I think that account speaks to a lot of issues.

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