I initially picked up Three Cups of Tea some time last year, in the same shopping trip that included picking up a couple of different anti aging creams for my mother, having my hair done, and spending some time alone with a grilled cheese and tomato sandwich at Barnes and Noble. I didn’t actually read it until recently, however, because it got lost in my house – so lost, that I actually picked up a second copy thinking I’d never purchased the first!
I’m glad I finally read this book though, because the story is beautiful. I mean, I disconnected a bit in the first third of the book when author Greg Mortenson, whose story this is, was living in his car to save money so he could get back to Pakistan, but by the time I got to the end of his book – which is really just the beginning of his legacy – I was completely invested in the man and his mission.
For the five people who haven’t read it, Three Cups of Tea is the story of an American mountain climber who fails to reach the summit of K2, becomes severely ill during his descent, and gets lost in a remote corner of Pakistan, where local villagers take him in, help him recover, and essentially adopt him. As thanks, he promises to return and build a school where the young women of the village can be educated. He eventually makes good on his promise, first building a bridge, then the first school, then heading a foundation with a mission of building more schools in Pakistan, all for educating women and girls, while still being respectful of local religion and customs.
And to top it all off, this is all taking place at the very beginning of the Taliban’s rise to power.
While, at times, my not-so-inner snob found her skin crawling at the less-than-pristine conditions of Mortenson’s living arrangements, I finished the book with tears in my eyes. I feel this book should be required reading for everyone, everywhere.
Goes well with: Tea and flat bread.