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   The Shaman in Stilettos
Reviewed by Sudhirendar Sharma
30 Jun 2012

Shaman in the making

Mystics they are, the shamans are known to heal emotional distress, physical challenges and mental chatter using hallucinogens. Ayahuasca, one of the most potent hallucinogen, has helped people find themselves and, in doing so, to find peace. Like most ancient cultures, the dancing snakes that pop up (in the mind) during ayahuasca ceremony have helped shamans visualize, amongst other things, the structure of DNA several centuries before Watson and Crick could actually discover it. Making patients see with their heart and feel with their eyes, the shamans have been able to manipulate the energy blocks in human body, which are the cause of many health issues, such that the energy flows freely again. That the shamans are charismatic is known but that one of them could be disarmingly seductive is what celebrated journalist Anna Hunt came to realize from her adventure into the wilderness of the Amazon jungle.

As a real page turner, The Shaman in Stilettos is a story about raging passion, mysterious obsession, compelling ritual and abject surrender. How a 29-year-old compromises her love for stilettos, chocolate, cars and a fast-paced job to the slow-paced rhythm of life in the unglamorous jungles of Peru makes for exhilarating reading. In the backdrop of her passionate affair with a charming shaman, the story of Anna Hunt is packed with nuggets of extraordinary wisdom. That anger and tears are just perspectives; neither of them is right nor wrong, is one of the several nuggets. Much of human weakness emerges from the innate fears we all carry within - the fear of the unknown, fear of not being in control, and fear of facing yourself as you really are.

The shamans neither fear nor are they frightened of dying. They know that they go to the light – to the next level. Through a gripping narrative laced with romantic interludes, Anna unfolds the secret and complex world of the shamans and their mystics. For the shamans, the snake holds the key to the knowledge of the universe. Snake is best expressed in Spanish word ‘serpiente’, ‘Ser’ means ‘human’; ‘pi’ is the basic building block of ‘life’; and ‘ente’ means ‘universe’. No wonder, every shaman has to learn to work with the snake. This and much more, The Shaman in Stilettos is entertaining, engrossing and enlightening story about the ‘making of a shaman in stilettos’.

The Shaman in Stilettos
by Anna Hunt
Penguin Books, UK
454 pages, £ 8.99


 
 Other books reviewed by Dr Sudhirendar Sharma
Features > Book Shelf
 
Spoiling Tibet
Posting Date: 28 Feb 2014

A Journey in the Future of Water
Posting Date: 28 Feb 2014

Yamuna Manifesto
Posting Date: 28 Feb 2014

 
Corruption Watch

The bad news is that corruption has not only sustained but has grown in size and stature in the country. With scams being a regular feature, seventy per cent respondents in a survey have rightfully opined that corruption has continued to increase in India. One in every two interviewed admit having paid a bribe for availing public services during last one year. Transparency International's latest survey reveals that the political parties top the chart for the most corrupt public institutions, followed by police force and legislatures. No wonder, India continues to make new records on the global corruption arena!

The shocking revelation is that the health and education sectors haven't remained untouched by this phenomenon. With 5th and 6th positions respectively for these sectors on the public perception chart on corruption, corruption has crept insidiously into these sectors of hope for the masses. With bureaucracy being fourth in the list of corrupt institutions in the country, corruption seems to have been non-formally institutionalized with little hope if public services would ever be effective in the country. With economic growth having literally institutionalized corruption, are we now expecting corrupt to be socially responsible - a different CSR.

Poor. Who?

Not giving 'aid' to India is one thing but calling it 'rich' is quite another. If one in three of the world's malnourished children live in India, what does average daily income of $3 indicate? It perhaps means that there is a relative decline in poverty - people are 'less poor' than what they used to be in the past. But having crossed the World Bank arbitrary threshold of $2 a day does not absolve the 'developed' countries of their obligation to part with 0.7 per cent of their Gross National Income in development aid. Should this three-decade old figure not be revised?  

An interesting debate in UK's House of Commons delved on future of development assistance by the British Government. While prioritizing limited resources has been a concern, there has been no denying the fact that development aid must be guided towards tangible gains over a short period of time to start with. There are difficult choices for elected governments to make - should they invest in long-term primary education or in short-term university scholarships? Which of these will bring gains and trigger long-term transformation in the society. As politicians continue to be divided on the matter, poverty persists!!   

Lead View
People, Partition and the Pain
By Rina Mukherji
15 Aug 2013

Dr Jayanti Basu's book analyzes the complex feelings of hatred and longing for the homeland that have contributed to shaping the personalities of a generation of people who were forced to ..
Book Shelf

Yamuna Manifesto

A Journey in the Future of Water

Spoiling Tibet

On Western Terrorism
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Carmen Miranda
Pandurang Hegde
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