Three Cups of Tea


I thought (and argued) Life could never be as interesting as fiction. But after reading Three Cups of Tea, I’m afraid I’d have to say I was wrong. It describes how a single person can change the world, yes that isn’t an overstatement. How a single person can change the world.

It’s about Greg Mortenson, a climber who after his failed K2 expedition went on to conquer even greater heights. He started on a mission to build schools in the most neglected areas of Pakistan and later Afganisthan, especially in the era of 9\11 when that whole area had an equal amount of hatred and Uranium in its atmosphere as was oxygen, and America was suffering from Islamophobia.

Three Cups of Tea

Three Cups of Tea

Its about how a single person, with just a car to call his own and strong determination can change lives of thousands of people half the world away forever.

Mortenson not only had failed to summit K2, he had returned home broke. And because he was anxiuos about spoiling things by leaning too heavily on Marina(his girl friend), he still spent the majority of his nights in La Bamba (his car). He had become known to the police. And they roused him in the middle of the night with flashlights and made him trace sleepy orbits of Berkeley Flats, half awake at the wheel, searching for parking spots where they wouldn’t find him before morning.

The first village he chose was Korphe, and with all the difficulties in the way, it would take more than a Man to not loose his determination. It would have been much easier to settle down for the fact that he was just another climber who was passing through that village, who took services of the people and payed them in return, who saw their children’s illiteracy and ignorance and could do nothing about it, but he instead decided that he would do something about it.

“Do you see how beautiful this Koran is?” Haji Ali asked.


“I can’t read it”, he said. “I can’t read anything. This is the greatest sadness in my life. I’ll do anything so the children of my village never have to know this feeling. I’ll pay any price so they have the education they deserve.”

“Sitting there beside him,” Mortenson says, “I realized that every thing, all the difficulties I’d gone through, from the time I’d promised to build the school, through the long struggle to complete it, was nothing compared to the sacrifices he was prepared to make for his people. Here was this illiterate man, who’d hardly ever left his liitle village in the Karakoram,” Mortenson says. “Yet he was the wisest man I’ve ever met.”

Being an American made it only worse, people double checking his actions from every aspect was a common thing. The episode where he was suspected and was shut in a room for four days, send shivers down your spine.

For four days, as he’d become increasingly depressed, he’d refused everything but rice and tea.

And oh the Joy when Jean Hoerni, Greg’s first sponsor who believed in him, saw a picture of the school that Greg had completed in Korphe. Jean wanted to see this in his hospital bed suffering from myelofibrosis, a fatal form of leukemia.

He turned back to Hoerni and saw him hunched over the phone, ordering an overseas operator to locate a certain number for him in Switzerland. “Salut”, Hoerni said finally to a childhood friend from Geneva. “C’est moi, Jean. I built a school in the Karakoram Himalaya,” he boasted. “What have you done for the last fifty years?”

Later, Greg Mortenson became the executive officer of Central Asia Institute(CAI) established by Jean Hoerni which is still on its mission to promote peace by building schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The idea of using Education to fight against terrorism instead of bombs is wonderful.

I do it beacuse I care about kids. Fighting terror is may be seventh or eighth on my list of priorities. But working over there, I’ve learned a few things. I’ve learned that terror doesn’t happen beacause some group of people somewhere like Pakistan or Afghanistan simply decide to hate us. It happens because children aren’t being offered a bright enough future that they have a reason to choose life over death.

Being the CEO of CAI, Mortenson didnt confine himself to working in his office in Montana, US. He often visits Pakistan and Afghanistan risking his life for the well beingness of children who others even didnt knew exist.

Mortenson lay prone in the cool mud, trying to think his way out of the firefight, but there was nothing to be done. Several new gunners joined the battle, and the intensity of fire above their heads surged, tearing the air into shreds. “I stopped thinking about escape and started thinking about my kids,” Mortenson says, “trying to imagine how Tara(his wife) would expalin the way I’d died to them, and wondering if they would understand what I was trying to do–how I didn’t mean to leave them, that I was trying to help kids like them over here. I decided Tara would make them understand. And that was a pretty good feeling.”

Cheers to man who dedicated his life for the welfare of the children half world away, but we could really give him something more than just cheers. Skip a starbucks, dont watch a crappy movie or Imagine an extra dinner and donate that amount to CAI. Nothing is less, it costs 1 USD to support a child’s education for a month. Im leaving links to CAI and some other important ones below.


CAI’s official website where you can donate

Greg Mortenson’s official website

Greg Mortenson’s Blog

Three Cups of Tea official website

Note: The quotes are taken directly from the book.


26 Responses to “Three Cups of Tea”

  1. 1 Swats

    Dunno abt this 1…but im reading THE 3 MISTAKES OF MY LIFE by Chetan Bhagat..

    V intriguing…haven’t read his 5 POINT SOMEONE/ONE NIGHT AT A CALL CENTER tho

  2. 2 zee

    that was really amazing!!!
    what’s better is that he was recognised for his good work.
    saw this movie khuda ke liye….highly depressing….but even there the ending is somewhat similar………

  3. Thanks for sharing this one.

  4. I just myself read the second novel by Hossieni and thought more and more about ‘how a single person can/ can’t/ may be change the world’ and more so, the need/want/desire for the same…
    looks like this goes on to be the next one I’ll lay my hands at!

  5. Twice, I almost bought this book and decided against it. Have to read it now. Third time lucky. Thanks for the review, though skipped some of it to keep the thrill of reading 😛

  6. @Swats: I haven’t read any Chetan Bhagat’s book, but have heard a lot of praise abt them. I want to start with ofcourse his most popular one – five point someone.

    @Zee: I agree, when he started off I dont knw if he knew that he’d ever be recognized for his work. But he hanged on and he’s a strong nominee for the Nobel Peace prize. Recognition only motivates you to follow the path u believed in.

    @Mridula: thx Mridula for visiting by and linking this in Blogbharti.

    @Vartika: Yeah, a single person can change the world, Happy reading !

    @phoenix: You did the right thing, I should ‘ve kept a spoiler alert 🙂 , neverthless I thought reading these few quotes would only inspire people.

  7. 7 Monte

    Good job on this review! It is a thrilling story, is it not?

  8. 8 wavesnsands

    Wow! My next buy surely… thanks a lot 🙂

  9. @Monte: yeah it is, especially when the story is someone’s life.

    @wavesnsands: you are welcome, Happy Reading.

  10. Beautiful Mav. Thanks for sharing. I didnt know of this book. Will try to find it to read. Loved the excerpts and the way you put them up. A very interesting read as it is, and a very inspiring one.

  11. Really inspiring.

    Can I hvae myself on your blogroll?

  12. Nice review. It reminds me of “A Thousand Splendid Suns” and Khaled Hosseini’s plot is ultimate 😀

    I must read this book.

  13. Yeah, I also change my world everyday 😛
    Pun apart…..sounds intresting…. thinking of picking it up soon.

    I am reading ‘Keep off the grass’ by Karan Bajaj these days.

    Thank you for letting me know abt it.

  14. I would be linking you, is it ok with you?


  16. 16 prash

    Thanks for the review. I shall look for it when I go to a book shop next time.

  17. Just today I was feeling sorry for myself, again.
    Now I feel a little more inspired. 🙂

    Thanks for that book review.

  18. @Manpreet: you are welcome, if u r fond of books, Im sure u’ll love it.

    @Akshar: Thx

    @Manasa: He’s surely on my to read author’s list.

    @Manpreet: Thx for the link, and I will do the tag soon.

    @Prash: Sure, its worth a read.

    @handmaiden: a little bit inspiration cheers up all, great to hear tht u got today’s dose frm my blog 🙂

  19. Beautiful….thanks for bring it to my notice am putting it on my must read list right away…

  20. @pinku: thx for stopping by, welcome to my blog.

  21. 21 m murtaza

    what a great hero and this make me to examine my life to see what i have done so far.

  22. It’s a great comfort to know that even in our crazy world, there are compassionate, philanthropic souls who are determined to overcome all obstacles to reach out to those who are less fortunate. What an inspiration! Thanks for your analysis and review!

  23. 23 will

    this review is trash

  24. 24 M.s

    Thank you for sharing this one. I can tell you are a really nice intellegent person

  1. 1 What would you do if you failed to climb K2? at Blogbharti
  2. 2 Pages tagged "three cups of tea"

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