Tiger Heart by Katrell Christie and Shannon McCaffrey is my summer read 2015. Picture me on a forest green sunbed under the birch trees in my parents’ garden. Cue doting mother (I am an only child) with a cup of tea, and my kid hunting for worms in the flowerbeds – and an extraordinary literary journey is within reach.
I followed Katrell from the eccentricities of Atlanta and the beginnings of a teashop called Dr. Bombay’s Underwater Tea Party to founding a life scholarship program for young women in Darjeeling, India – and it was a life-changing journey for both of us.
Katrell says, “It’s one of those “only in India” stories” (p. 16) and her story certainly is.
India and the people Katrell encounters there are so vividly depicted that I can feel the logistical chaos and hear the quintessential melody of Indian-English. Katrell first visited India on a trip organized by Rotary, and while there had the quick idea to visit Darjeeling, where tea is grown. There she stumbled upon a cause. Orphanage girls are “evicted” at the age of 16 and left to fend for themselves in an impoverished society where one’s family is the only support network. Katrell founded The Learning Tea; a house for these young women, where they can finish their education and gain their footing in society.
I appreciate the way Katrell founds The Learning Tea sideways. No beforehand business plan and funding. No SWOT analysis. She follows her heart, risking her own money and sanity, and setting what many of us would describe as “ordinary life” on hold. Katrell has found her path of compassion and passion, served with a healthy dose of self-irony and humor. I am in awe of her, her dedication and prowess. She continues to fund The Learning Tea through Dr. Bombay’s and The Learning Tea website – selling tea of course. Please, buy some. If you are the sunbed-laying, easy-living person like me, it is a small way of sending a smile.
In addition to Katrell’s personal journey, Tiger Heart is a motivational book about risking the comforts of our ordinary lives and showing compassion to others. It is about using your life knowledge and experience and serving others – and you do not have to go to India in order to do it.
Tiger Heart is published by HCI Books. The photos used above are from The Learning Tea website. It is inspirational. I found the book through Netgalley and found the mosaic of the tiger on the cover and the description tempting.