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What appealed to me about this book?
I was gifted this book - actually it was a prize that I won along with another from OM Yoga magazine. I was happy to receive it as it was free. By Gotham Chopra (son of the famous Deepak) I anticipated a book filled with wise offerings. The blurb on the back gave a short insight into what I could expect - it sounded intriguing so I chose to read it.
I'm ready to be empowered so lets begin...
The first thing to note about the prose is that it flows well. Written in first person, with only the odd bit of terminology that I was not sure about, I found it an easy read. I'm introduced to Gotham who I feel interested in learning more about as he has been reared by a well know man of wisdom - Deepak. I soon discover that Deepak will have some input into the recollections and looked forward to learning from the great man.
In a question and answer format to begin with, each chapter allows you a taste of what is to come. I found all chapters to be of interest based on that style. Basically the book details a recent development between Gotham and Deepak from which they have both grown spiritually and bonded so that they are now closer than ever. All of this was made possible with the company of a small dog named Cleo (love that name). This little lady is part of an extended Chopra family and owned by Gotham and his oriental wife, Candice.
A special relationship with a beloved pooch named Nicholas was Gotham and Mallika's (his sister) first encounter with the 'present moment' world of the canine. Deepak was mildly interested in Nicholas but as he travelled often he was not around him enough to learn what he has done from little Cleo. I could resonate with the antics and mishaps that the family encountered with the large, slobbering blaze of energy that was Nicholas and how easy it was to be in the carefree company of a dog. Gotham doesn't linger too long on that chapter of his life, though, as it is the present day that has created change.
With the arrival of baby Krishu (beloved son of Gotham and Candice) the family dynamics changed and I found the investigative and inquisitive mind of Deepak interesting as he learned from Cleo's responses to the child. Fast forward a couple of years and due to a family crisis Gotham and Deepak are thrust together, at first an uncomfortable time for the pair as they have rarely spent time alone. It is during their many evening walks with Cleo that they happen upon flashes of inspiration and wisdom - in essence they are learning from the little dog. As I have read widely around this genre I was not surprised by the lessons that they learned, the main one being the ability of a dog to remain fully focused on the present moment - something which as a young child we are capable of though as we get older, and meet the demands of society, is sadly pushed aside.
Cleo displayed grace, compassion, forgiveness, loyalty and all manner of other qualities which I fully embrace - it was genuinely fascinating to read ,though, as I have been a dog owner I was not surprised as I have witnessed the unconditional love that a dog develops with his/her owner.
One area that I had not experienced with a dog, in the past, was the presentation of grief and grieving. Gotham noticed a big change in Cleo when her companion (a next door neighbour's dog) died suddenly. The little dog (Cleo) who was normally a ball of energy became apathetic and visibly sad for two weeks and then one morning she had resolved her grief and was back to normal - though she obviously still remembered the friend as she stopped and sniffed the gate at his home every day. This was fascinating, though believable and I learned from it.
As the family were very good friends with Michael Jackson, Gotham pondered how much to include of him in this book. He hoped that his personal recollections of introducing him to the ferocious, tiny terror (Cleo) would be an appropriate and fitting addition to the prose. I thought he included just the right amount of his friendship with Michael, it was interesting to hear about the person behind the hype. I found the description of the initial meeting that Michael had with Cleo amusing - in the end a terrorized Michael came to understand that Cleo was playing a simple game of chase with him. Even though Michael had a fear of dogs he came to tolerate Cleo and even allowed his children to have some dogs. After reading the section about Michael I developed a greater understanding of this man and found it thought provoking.
As the final chapters neared I found myself slowing down so as to make the read last a while longer - this was difficult as I just couldn't wait to find out more, learn more and enjoy more of Deepak's revelations. The book isn't over the top on philosophy or spirituality as it is written in an enjoyable story style but there is enough there to satisfy anyone who wants to learn more on consciousness and being in the present moment.
I really enjoyed getting to know Gotham and his lovely family. It was interesting to see the cultural differences between India, Mandarin and America. Weddings, especially, sound vibrant and are attended by many in India and I wasn't aware of the celebrations lasting days. I loved the description of the Mandarin bridal gown as Candice shuffled along in it - I could imagine it vividly.
The book draws to a close with a touching recollection which involves Gotham's niece, Tara. She has an announcement that she wants all of the family to hear, it will be the start of yet another journey for all of the family. I thought the ending was entirely suitable and satisfactory.
Where to buy?
The Book Depository
This book has a spiritual tone to it and you can learn a lot form Deepak, Cleo and Gotham if that is what you are seeking, however, the prose is an interesting and enjoyable read aside from that. Gotham writes in a personable manner and the passages flow well, it is well structured and I liked the opening question and answer that began each chapter. I was familiar with the philosophy and outcomes of their experiences from my wide reading around the subject area but that mattered not as this was an unusual approach and at times fascinating. I would purchase this if I hadn't already received it as a gift. I can recommend it.
Also published on Ciao.