zahid lilani

Tea. No Milk No Sugar

CBS 60 Minutes got the ball rolling on accusations that Greg Mortenson falsified his two books, Three Cups of Tea and Stones into Schools, by faking most of the incidences and misrepresenting the facts. Apart from that, he also mismanaged millions of dollars in donations from hard working people who genuinely thought his books were honest and he was changing the world by having cups of tea around Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Greg Mortenson - Tea - No sugar No milk

I like my tea with sugar and milk; it tastes bitter without the sweetness of sugar and milk. Even though Morteson drank tea with sugar and milk, normal in Pakistan, the three cups of tea he offered to the rest of us was without sugar (substance) and milk (honesty)

I have read both the books by Mortenson. I enjoyed his first book, Three Cups of Tea, a lot more than I enjoyed his second book Stones into Schools. Part of his second book was a summary of the first book and part of it felt like a Bollywood sentimental movie. The story that trump all others was the one where Mortenson was kidnapped by Taliban and then let go with a farewell bash. It’s pretty black and white with Taliban; you either live or die and in most cases latter is true. Saying that you were kidnapped by Taliban and got away is like saying even though it rained, you managed to stay dry. Doesn’t happen!

Three Cups of Deceit by Jon Krakauer is the book that provides all the proof that one needs to suspect Mortenson’s credibility. One of the facts Krakauer talks about is the part where Morteson is allegedly kidnapped by Taliban. Yes, it never happened. He was a guest to few Pakistani tribesmen, who he later referred to as Taliban.

My feelings: How can he do that? Almost a perfect story of meaning in life, selflessness, inspiration and human dignity. Wonderful cause, deserving children, and an oppurtunity of a lifetime to make a difference in the world. Then why all the exaggeration? Why skew the facts? Why not tell it how it is? Why not follow directions?

It doesn’t matter how you and I feel because the damage is done. I think Nicholas Kristof from New York Times said it best:

…greatest loss will be felt not by those of us whose hero is discredited, nor even by Greg himself, but by countless children in Afghanistan who now won’t get an education after all. But let’s not forget that even if all the allegations turn out to be true, Greg has still built more schools and transformed more children’s lives than you or I ever will. – ‘Three Cups of Tea,’ Spilled

Indeed, it’s love-hate relationship. I feel betrayed by what he sold me but on the other hand he has done a lot more than you and I can even imagine to do in this lifetime.

Everything does happen for a reason. In this case, however, we will never know the reason why a person twice nominated for Nobel Peace Prize turned out to be of no moral character.

Image Credit: Mark Whitaker

Disclaimer: Three Cups of Deceit by Jon Krakauer above is an Amazon affiliate link. I wasn’t paid to include that link in my post but in the event that you do click the link and purchase the Kindle Single for $2.99, I might get a penny or two.