Three Cups

Title:   Three cups of tea / Greg Mortenson & David Oliver Relin ; adapted by Sarah Thomson ; foreword by Jane Goodall.
Author:   Mortenson, Greg.
Publisher: London : Puffin, 2010.
Call number: J English 371.82342095491 MOR or J English 371.822 THO
Adult edition: English 371.82209549 MOR

To explorers or mountaineers, to scale the world’s tall peaks is a mission in life.  It was the same with Greg Mortenson, the narrator of this book.  I happened to chance upon this book, Three Cups of Tea, among the heaps of public donation from BookCross.  Of course, you can also find this book in the public libraries. There are various editions for children and adults alike.

The version I picked up is the Young Readers edition.  The adult edition of the same title was once a #1 New York Times Bestseller in 2009.  The unique title and the fact it is a non-fiction are enough to pique my interest.  Why “Three Cups of Tea”, you may ask, for a mountaineering adventure story?  I did exactly that and found out that “With the first cup of tea, you are a stranger.  With the second, a friend.  With the third cup of tea, you are family”.

The story starts in 1993, when Greg Mortenson tried to reach the summit of a mountain called K2, part of the Karakoram Range in Pakistan.  For those in the know, K2 is the second highest mountain on Earth.  He lost his way in the high mountains of Pakistan and was, just in time, rescued by his porter, only to be lost again a second time.  There, he wandered into a poor village where the kind village chief and his people nursed him back to health.  Greatly moved and touched by their kindness, he vowed to return and build a school for the children, having witnessed the abject poverty of this community.  What started off as a single school soon mushroomed into sixty schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan over a decade.

What struck me about this book was the reference to the situation of child labour in Pakistan and her surrounding nations.  In Pakistan alone, thousands of illiterate children work sewing soccer balls; and in Afghanistan, many kids are forced to work in dimly lit rooms making carpets which only their small fingers can weave the tiny knots that make up the expensive high-thread count carpets that Westerners covet.

For attempting a seemingly impossible task and succeeding in a way he could not have predicted, Greg was lauded as a hero not only in Pakistan and Afghanistan but internationally.  What he did truly contributed more to world peace and the understanding of the Muslim community than any other misguided attempts to change the world through violence and war.  This book attempts to inspire you to go out and make a difference.  If you are seeking for an inspirational read, give this book a try!

Contributed by Ng Cheng Soon, Librarian, Central Public Library