Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Three Cups of Tea Top 10 List

Adam Anderson
Mr. Hatten
English 10
18 January 2008
Three Cups of Tea Top 10 List
I read the book “Three Cups of Tea” by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. This is a list of the top ten things to know about it. The list does not go in order of importance.
1. The Plot:
The book is a true story about Greg Mortenson trying to build schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Greg gets into a lot of trouble, as one might imagine in Asia nowadays, so the book is about his struggle to build as many schools as he can, and to make sure they aren’t destroyed!
2. Some of the book takes place in Minnesota:
Greg Mortenson was born in Minnesota (35; ch. 4). Also, he later came back to give a presentation at Mr. Sports in Apple Valley (225; ch. 18). I’ve always lived in Minnesota, so this makes the book seem more real than it would otherwise. After all I have never been to Asia, and I surely don’t have a good idea of what it’s like.
3. How the title relates to the book:
The title “Three Cups of Tea” refers to the way business is done in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The first time you have tea with someone, you are a stranger. Then the second time you are a friend, and the third time you are family (150; ch. 12). This is very important to the story, because Greg feels that he is at home in Asia, so it is his responsibility to build schools for them.
4. Why Haji Ali is important:
Haji Ali was the person who inspired Greg to build the schools. When Mortenson was trying to hike up the mountain called K2, he got lost, and he came to the village of Korphe. There Haji Ali, the leader of the village, let Mortenson stay in his home and use his best possessions. When Mortenson learned that Korphe had no school, he promised Haji Ali that he would build one (ch. 2-3).
5. The authors:
There are two authors, Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. I assume that Greg Mortenson told the story of what he did, and Relin wrote about it (he is only in the introduction to the story). David Relin often quotes Mortenson and other people during the book. This can become irritating at times, because it often becomes repetitive, and it makes the story seem like a documentary instead of a novel.
6. The book’s purpose:
The book was written to raise money for the Central Asia Institute, of which Greg is the Director. The CAI website URL,, is found at the end of the book, and from there you can make donations. During the book, Greg talks about how he raised funds for the CAI from giving speeches and writing articles, and it shows how much they need the money.
7. The fatwas:
Two fatwas (religious rulings) were declared against Mortenson, but both were eventually overturned. They used the education of girls as their excuse, but it was later revealed that this wasn’t anti-Islam. In fact, the Koran teaches that all children should receive education (199; ch. 16). Both times, it was clear that the fatwas were the results of religious leaders abusing their power to earn money.
8. Greg Mortenson’s wife:
Greg was a mountain climber and he met his wife, Tara Bishop, at an American Himalayan Foundation dinner (ch. 11). She played a fairly major role in “Three Cups of Tea,” because Greg often went back home to visit her and his children. She often worried about him while he was gone, especially after 9/11 happened (254; ch. 19).
9. Mortenson’s kidnapping:
While in Peshawar, on a mission to find if the citizens wanted to have a school, Greg was kidnapped and held for many days in a cell (ch. 13). This could answer the question that many people must have asked Mortenson: “If you spent so much time in Asia, how did you survive?” He was eventually released, after telling someone there that he builds schools.
10. The theme:
The theme of the book is to show how one person can make a difference in the world. This is mentioned in the quote on the front cover, instead of one of the fourteen other quotes found at the start of the book. Even though Mortenson received much help and money from others, one thing is certain: if he had never lived, the Central Asia Institute or a similar organization would not exist today.

Works Cited
Mortenson, Greg, and David Oliver Relin. Three Cups of Tea. New York: Penguin Group, 2006.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Three Cups of Tea Post 7-C

Chapter 22, page 297, "The Enemy is Ignorance": The news reporter for Parade magazine writes about Jahan. She was forceful in getting money from Mortenson. Parade advertises, gets letters--positive. Mortenson sets up "shock and awe" in his basement. He got money from people because of the magazine article. He gave raises and built a hostel in Skardu for students who continued their education. Jakub chained the school shut. Mortenson gave dynamite. The fatwa was defeated again. Bhangoo's boss, Bashir, showed explosions on TV--mad at Bush. Bhangoo dive-bombed Mubarek's house. Jahan said she wanted to be a Superlady.

Chapter 23, page 314, "Stones into Schools": Former king of Afghanistan on Mortenson's flight said US didn't live up to promises. No central banking in Afghanistan--hard to get money to the right places. Drove with Abdullah in the early morning to Faizabad. Car broke down in tunnel. Red-painted rocks. Rolled downhill in car. In the middle of battle, Mortenson drove away in goatskin truck. Driver fasting for Ramadan throughout the day. Went to Sadhar Khan. Discussed schools.

Three Cups of Tea Post 7-B

Over the course of the book, I was surprised at the number of times that Mortenson claimed to be educating specifically girls, or at least emphasizing them. It is true that educating girls is quite important. They are mostly responsible for raising and teaching the children, and therefore their knowledge will have a large impact. However, many boys are currently educated at primarily the Wahhabi madrassa schools in Pakistan, which teach hatred of the West (244; ch. 19). If this is true, isn't it very important to provide other possible schools for boys? After all, when you hear of someone who goes out with a plane or helicopter and commits suicide terror, it's usually a man (although recently more women have done so because they are less suspected by security).

Jahan, Haji Ali’s granddaughter, was very outgoing trying to get Dr. Greg to give her money to begin medical training. As the news reporter Fedarko said, “It was one of the most incredible things I have ever seen in my life… Here comes this teenage girl, in the center of a conservative Islamic village, waltzing into a circle of men, breaking through about sixteen layers of traditions at once” (300; ch. 22). Mortenson also seems ecstatic about this. I personally am not a fan of Islam or traditions. However, I have a feeling that Jahan doesn’t have enough perspective. “’I want to be a... “Superlady,”’ she said defiantly, daring anyone, any man, to tell her she couldn’t” (313; ch. 22).

Three Cups of Tea Post 7-A

Figurative language:
1. "Then three of the stars detached themselves from the heavens and drifted down to welcome the village of Korphe's visitors" (297; ch. 22). This is a metaphor, because the author is comparing the village leader and his friends to stars.
2. "Thanks to Mortenson, the students who studied within their stone walls had become each village's most carefully tended crop" (311; ch. 22). This is a metaphor, because he is comparing raising children to growing crops.
3. "Groups of men in flowing white robes floated between the town's lantern-lit all-night tea stands like benevolent spirits..." (318; ch. 23). This is a simile, because he's using "like" to compare the men to ghosts because they seem spooky.

1. limning (321; ch. 23): v. drawing the outline of something.
2. fusillade (323; ch. 23): n. continuous shooting.