Admittedly, I fell asleep twice during the first 83 pages. Even reading in the back yard by an open fire while having S’mores wasn’t that much of a help. I can’t say that I find Gandhi to be any less enigmatic after reading Part 1, but perhaps he is meant to remain that way.
One thing that puzzles me is that even though he practiced extreme self-denial – which he claimed to be the source of happiness (“Renounce and enjoy”) – Gandhi seemed to be almost eager to place himself into opportunities to challenge his self-denial, or at least practically test his convictions, e.g. his dietary experiments and the vegetarian vow that he eventually chose to keep.
What I am keeping in the back of my mind, however, is what Fareed Zakaria notes in The Post-American World as the “central paradox of India today. It’s society is open, eager, and confident, ready to take on the world. But its state…is hesitant, cautious, and suspicious of the changing realities around it.” To me, this is Gandhi in a nutshell.