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Tiger Heart: My Unexpected Adventures to…

Tiger Heart: My Unexpected Adventures to Make a Difference in Darjeeling,…

by Katrell Christie

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This amazing book pulled me in from the very first paragraph. The writing style is so inviting, open and honest. It’s like you are in the middle of a conversation with the author. Nothing feels pretentious or forced. You feel what she feels; her excitement, her uncertainties, her fears, and her joys.

Katrell starts out as a young woman running a tea shop. One day a young woman comes in and a friendship develops and suddenly talks of a trip to India begins. Other than serving tea from Darjeeling Katrell never gave India a thought. But she is slowly convinced to go and little did she know that her whole world view would change as a result of that trip.

She learns while there of the treatment of women – especially those of the lower castes. Even worse is what happens to orphans. These young ladies are tossed at 17 with nowhere to go and no skills to help sustain them She felt compelled to help. Little by little and with many failures as well as successes she creates a way to teach these girls to value themselves and to not only support themselves but to also give back. It’s an amazing story. I think one that everyone should read. ( )
  BrokenTeepee | Oct 17, 2015 |
As America is reflecting on the historic visit from Pope Francis, I just read a book that perfectly encapsulates everything he is trying to teach us. Tiger Heart, by Katrell Christie and Shannon McCaffrey, recounts Christie's efforts to aid young Indian women in Darjeeling.

Christie, who once skated competitive Roller Derby and now owns a small tea shop in Atlanta, was having a tough time when one of her customers asked her repeatedly to join her and her Rotary companions to work on a service project in India.

Christie had no interest, but after a bad spell at work with employees stealing from her and quitting on her, she impulsively said yes, she'd go to India. (As someone who once owned two fast food restaurants, I totally got that.)

She found her calling in Darjeeling, and began a project helping young orphaned women. These young ladies were about to be aged out of the orphanage where they grew up. At the age of seventeen, they had to move out the orphanage. In India, they would normally live with their families until they married, so living on their own would be a difficult prospect.

Christie took some of these young women and rented them a home to live in, helped them furnish it, and encouraged them to go to college. If not for Christie and people who helped her on this project, these young ladies would most likely ended up as domestic servants, or being sexually trafficked.

She changed the lives of these girls, and others who came after them. In addition to their school work and jobs, she asked that they volunteer their time helping others as a requirement of living in the apartment.

People she told her story to wanted to help as well. She had the fortunate opportunity to meet the Indian defense minister through a friend and after telling him of her project, he wrote her a personal check to educate one girl for an entire year!

She met a family who invited her to their home for dinner where they presented her with a new DVD player and a karaoke machine for the girls. This family, who did not have a lot of money, told her that each year they save up to do one charitable thing and this was their act for the year. I absolutely love this idea! How wonderful would it be if every family practiced this?

We also learned about Christie's personal life. When she was a young child, she bit other children and adults. She was thrown out of several preschools and after one incident where her father was told to come and get her and take all of her things with them, he began to cry in the car. She asked him what was wrong and he told her that she had superpower teeth and if she continued to bite people (including him), he was afraid she would use up all of her superpowers. It worked and she believed this until she was fourteen. What a clever dad!

She tells a story of a flamboyant gay family friend with whom she has dinner with every week who insists on bringing her a new, crazy outfit she was to change into at the restaurant and model for all. Outfits included ballroom gowns, Jackie O suits and onesie skating costumes.

Every month, Christie holds a Learning Tea dinner at her tea shop where people pay $20 and all the money goes towards her girls. You can help too by going to thelearningtea.com and clicking on the "India Trip" tab.

Tiger Heart is a quick and inspiritional read about a young woman with no special talents except her willingness to help young women a world away and her can-do spirit. I hope that between Katrell Christie and Pope Francis, people are encouraged to make the world a better place by helping others. ( )
  bookchickdi | Sep 30, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0757318584, Paperback)

Katrell Christie was a thirty-something artist turned roller-derby rebel who opened a tea shop in Atlanta. Barely two years later, her life would make a drastic change--and so would the lives of a group of girls half a world away.      

I chose the name of my tea shop--Dr. Bombay's Underwater Tea Party--because it sounded whimsical. India wasn't part of the equation. Not even remotely. I didn't do yoga. I had no deep yearning to see the Taj Mahal or tour Hindu temples. Indian food? I could take it or leave it.        

Yet on a whim, Katrell did go. She witnessed the throngs at the Ganges River, toured the tea fields of Darjeeling, and helped string pearls in conservative Hyderabad. But it was in a crowded Buddhist orphanage where she crossed paths with some girls who would change the course of her life.

One night we had a conversation about their futures. What did they hope to be when they grew up? They didn't have any answers. The fear that consumed them was leaving the orphanage. What would happen on the day they were asked to gather their things and leave--to walk out the door and be all alone on the street with no one to turn to and nowhere to go?

With her mind racing about their grim futures, Katrell reached the simple conclusion that she couldn't walk away. So instead she walked forward--on a mission to help them in any small way. Once back at her shop, an idea for The Learning Tea was born. By selling tea, cupcakes, scones, and other treats, Katrell raised enough funds to provide life necessities for the girls--safe housing, uniforms, medical care, tutoring, and ultimately, a college education for each of them. To date, The Learning Tea has helped eleven young girls who once faced the bleakest of futures.

Tiger Heart recounts Katrell's riveting adventures back to India, through the chaotic streets of Mumbai, to tiny villages with roadside tea huts and hot samosas, to elephant crossings and snow-capped mountain switchbacks of the Himalayas--an unexpected backdrop where she fell in love with a country that was gorgeous and heartbreaking all at once, where tragedy, humor, resilience and kindness were inextricably bound. From dodging feral monkeys, to slamming shots of whiskey to win acceptance at a local Rotary Club, to forging lasting friendships with the people who stepped up to help her cause, Tiger Heart offers a shot-gun seat on an inspiring trek across the globe, capturing the essence of India: its quirks, its traditions, and its people.

Fate may have led Katrell to a tiny spot on a map, but it was a kinship that brought her back home a half a world away. Tiger Heart is a life-affirming look at the ties that bind and the power of each of us to make a difference.    

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 06 Jul 2015 02:06:39 -0400)

Katrell Christie was a thirty-something artist turned roller-derby rebel who opened a tea shop in Atlanta. Barely two years later, her life would make a drastic change--and so would the lives of a group of girls half a world away.

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