The 9 steps to tame a Royal Bengal Tiger – this is one of the 100 chapters in the amazing book “Life of Pi” by Yann Martel. Pi lists down the 9 points to tame any wild animal and follows them religiously till Richard Parker is tame. Richard Parker who? Initially christened as Thirsty and rechristened due to a clerical error as Richard Parker, he is the Royal Bengal Tiger with whom Pi spends 227 days adrift on a lifeboat.
The first part of the book deals with the growing up of Piscine Molitor Patel, who names himself 3.14 – Pi to escape the horrific nickname Pissing. Pi – originally a Hindu – embraces Christianity and Islam, and follows all three religions. This part is one of the most humourous as well as most thought provoking. When confronted with the Pundit, Imam, and the Priest simultaneously and asked to choose one religion, Pi replies simply – “I just want to love God”. Random facts are strewn about in the book – zoo stories, traits of animals, description of Pondicherry, and more facts about the wildlife.
The second part of the book deals with how Pi survived the mighty Pacific Ocean and a Royal Bengal Tiger for 227 days. The ship sinks and Pi is on the boat with his fellow survivors – an injured zebra, an orangutan, a hyena, and a hidden tiger. The hyena kills the zebra, and the orangutan, and subsequently gets killed by the tiger. Pi puts together a makeshift raft using oars and life jackets to escape the tiger. He thinks he would survive when the tiger would eventually die of hunger and thirst, but later realizes that Royal Bengal Tiger are known to survive in saline water, and hence comes up with the plan of taming the tiger. He becomes the supplier of fresh water and food to Richard Parker, makes himself the alpha-male and tames the tiger. A steadfast vegetarian, Pi soon goes down the food chain and starts eating raw fishes and turtles.
The story is sometimes too unbelievable, but Yann Martel has written it brilliantly. The parts where Pi is in a delirium, or the part where he lands up on a carnivore island seem to be too far-fetched; but then isn’t being stranded in the middle of Pacific with a Royal Bengal Tiger unfathomable? This book has won the Booker Prize in 2002, and deservingly so.
I would suggest this book to everybody – a must read.