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Turtle Feet

3.88  ·  Rating Details ·  443 Ratings  ·  65 Reviews
Nikolai Grozni was a music prodigy, a jazz pianist training at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, when suddenly he decided to transform his life. He moved to India to become a Buddhist monk: shaving his head, learning Tibetan, and donning long traditional robes. In the Himalayas, living in a hut a stone's throw from the Dalai Lama's compound, Grozni became ...more
Hardcover, 326 pages
Published May 15th 2008 by Riverhead Hardcover
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Стефан Русинов
Пънкът, обясних веднъж насън на една приятелка, е непрекъснатото усъмняване в готовите смислови фабрикати на света. Ако си недоволен, удряш. Ако не ти харесва, рушиш. В съня приятелката ми каза, че не ме разбира, и отиде да си купи банан.

Мисля си, че пънкът и будизмът имат нещо общо, доколкото и двете целят разрушаване на готови, но неработещи норми, пълно оголване на реалността и човека, достигане до същностното или по-скоро до съзнанието, че няма постоянно същностно и единственият начин да под
May 03, 2008 Lena rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
Nikolai Grozni was a childhood piano prodigy well on his way to becoming a professional jazz musician when a sudden metaphysical crisis caused him to drop out of the Berklee College of Music and move to India to become a Tibetan Buddhist monk.

Turtle Feet is Grozni's articulate and thoughtful memoir about his years living in Dharamsala. Though Grozni moved to India to divest himself of his previous identity and devote himself to religious scholarship, it doesn't take long for a new life to begin
Oct 12, 2012 Kerfe rated it it was amazing
After reading and liking Grozni's novel, "Wunderkind", I was intrigued by the path that he took from Eastern Europe to America to India and then back to his beginnings. "Turtle Feet" covers the author's time studying Buddhism, living as a monk in India.

The book is very entertaining, an anti-"Eat, Pray, Love": cynical, sarcastic, pessimistic, yet wildly romantic, with the same smart-alecky humor of his novel. It helps that Grozni was lucky in his friends and acquaintances: larger-than-life bundle
Lyubina Yordanova
„Крака на костенурка” е една от най-забавните и остроумни книги за важните неща от живота. На пръв поглед това е автобиографичен роман на Николай Грозни – българин, джаз пианист, който отива да учи в САЩ. Неудовлетворението го кара да предприеме пътуване към Индия, където се замонашва и прекарва няколко години в Дарамсала.

След по-нататъшно задълбочено четене, разбираш, че това е нещо повече от нечия история. „Крака на костенурка” е пътепис, социален роман, приключенски роман и книга, чрез която
Chris Beal
Jun 14, 2012 Chris Beal rated it really liked it
A promising career as a jazz pianist wasn't enough for Nikolai Gronzi. He wanted to know what life was really about. So he threw away everything to become a Tibetan Buddhist monk in Dharamsala, India, home of the Tibetan exile community.

Dharamsala is a small town where Indians and Tibetans live as uneasy neighbors, where everyone is always running into everyone, where people quickly fall into stereotypes. Gronzni, originally from Bulgaria, had gone to a music conservatory in Boston, so he becam
Jan 01, 2013 Sarah rated it really liked it
I’ve been obsessed with meaning lately. Or, more precisely, the uniquely human obsession with creating meaning from the inherently meaningless. I’m one of those people that believes that we’re just specks of stardust floating in space and that, if we want to have purpose and value in our lives, we must create it for ourselves. Who was it (Sartre?) that brilliantly reminded us that “man is nothing but what he makes of himself.”

But, as Mr. Gronzi highlights so clearly in Turtle Feet, creating mea
Jan 30, 2009 Ron rated it it was amazing
I found the story about Nikolai Grozni odyssey into Buddhism great fun. It made me think of my younger, more carefree days in college. In some ways I found myself very envious of Nikolai's adventure. Perhaps I lived vicariously through his journey into this world. I too continue to search for meaning and a higher power.
Jun 05, 2012 Katrin rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Yet another book by Grozni that made me cry.
Really, why do I feel like I have affairs with his books...

Nov 20, 2008 Jean rated it really liked it
wonderful story of life as a western buddist monk in Dharamsala
Jul 02, 2017 Marie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: world-booklist

"They say that a Buddhist monk has to change three things: his clothes, his name, and hie thoughts. I had changed my clothes and my name. My thoughts I wasn't giving up yet."

"Hell's got the best sunsets."

"In the west things are taken too seriously. Here I can finally breathe:there is no pressure to stay alive! Whatever happens is ok. I don't have to plot my life. I can sit back and actually enjoy it."

"The longer we live, the more we invest in an identity that is destined to disappear."

George Ilsley
May 18, 2017 George Ilsley rated it really liked it
Strongly written memoir about a young man in search of himself. Mostly, it is about his friend, nicknamed Tsar and how Tsar's irreverence is an influence in the quest for true meaning and true spirituality. Much behind the scenes gossip of Tibetan teachers and students. I wish there were some pictures included here, even just street scenes from Dharamsala.
Nov 04, 2009 Laura rated it liked it
I was intrigued by this book and its subject matter. The full title is "Turtle Feet The Making and Unmaking of a Buddhist Monk". This is an autobiography written by a young jazz musician from Bulgaria who was studying jazz piano at the Berklee College of Music in Boston when he was struck by a metaphysical malaise. This state of consciousness robbed him of his passion for music and consequently, direction in his life. Nikolai Grozni turned to meditation and Buddhism which eventually led him to t ...more
Kalem Wright
Nov 30, 2014 Kalem Wright rated it liked it
"Turtle Feet" is author Grozni's memoir of his existential crisis that propelled him into forsaking the world to become a Buddhist monk and his journey back to the world of desire.

Grozni's vivid language capably illustrates life in the Himalayas and their inhabitants. He lovingly conveys the magic in the mundane from cooking to learning to improvised housing. Other reviewers have echoed this, but his eye for detail is magnificent.

At the end, I was disappointed with Grozni's insight into meanin
Apr 25, 2010 Allison rated it liked it
Major theme of the book: finding oneself and meaning in one's life. Who can fail to relate to that?

Moreover, Turtle Feet is a well-written memoir with a suitable ending--sounds like my ideal book. Ultimately, however, it came out to be a somewhat interesting, somewhat enlightening, and also somewhat repetitive and forgettable book. The "supporting characters" are more interesting than the narrator, and because the narrator's reactions to these characters are predictable as well as predictably to

Petya Yaneva
Sep 27, 2016 Petya Yaneva rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Не бях чела по-забавна книга за духовното търсене на човека.
От друга страна никога не бях чела книга за духовното търсене, пречупена през толкова искрено балкански мисловен модел. Оказва се, че да търсиш връзката си с Бога и непреходната си същност, ако си от Балканите, е горе долу еквивалентно на това да търсиш табела за отбивка по разнебитен път някъде между Плевен и Лом. Знаеш, че отбивката съществува - усещаш го. Имаш дълбока и съкровена нужда да я намериш. Колкото и да си старателен, това н
Dec 29, 2008 Anne rated it it was ok
Turtle Feet is the story of a Bulgarian musical prodigy who gives up everything and moves to Dharmasala, India to become a monk. He is serious and steadfast in his studies, but the color and life of Gronzi's recollection is not in the telling of his spiritual revelations, but in his description of the sights, sounds, and smells or the world around him. Gronzi's life of poverty, amidst rats and his own starvation, is anything but idyllic enlightenment. Given the subtitle of the book, the reader k ...more
Jul 11, 2012 Paige rated it liked it
The book is less a memoir about monastic life than it is a gloriously painted portrait of everyday idiosyncratic life in a small Indian town. If you are expecting the former, you may be disappointed; shift your expectations to the latter, and you will not.

That is not to say Grozni entirely fails to explore his experiences as a Buddhist monk. Just that they are more minimal in scope, and (at least for me) could have been fleshed out more. In particular, I don't feel that some of his conclusions
Feb 13, 2009 Renee rated it liked it
Turtle Feet; the making and unmaking of a Buddhist Monk gave me the feeling of wanting a bowl of hot meat filled stew and getting only broth with a few veggies swimming around. This book could have been so much more. The descriptions of India and the life of a 2o something year old monk from Bulgaria, educated at Brown University was well written, interesting and descriptive. I just wanted MORE; the author breezed over the reasons of why he became a monk much too lightly. His parents and family ...more
Aug 19, 2009 Melissa rated it liked it
This book has a great final sentence, a Zorba-like supporting male character, and objective storytelling by the author that is rare in memoirs. These are the high points. To be frank, I just couldn't get into the book because of the style of writing and progression of the story. I loved the frankness Grozni uses when discussing Buddhist monks, their practices, and living in India, but his frankness sometimes comes across as too concrete. This book is worth reading, but it is written in a style t ...more
May 17, 2014 Anna rated it really liked it
was he meditating regularly? or was he just learning the tibetan language and studying texts with masters, and doing the classes and debates? I guess I wanted to know more about his actual practice - that's what I was expecting this book to be about. there were those stream-of-consciousness monologues here and there, about time and space collapsing - as if he was having a spiritual breakthrough, or on the brink of one. maybe I wanted more of that. I did love Tsar a lot. Geshe Yama Tseten was hil ...more
Aug 19, 2012 Nimisha rated it it was amazing
This book is about Nikolai's rich lifetime experience in India. Through little examples of everyday life in India, this book teaches us about friendship, how making decisions is an important part of our life, how circumstances affect our lives and what not! But one thing you need to know before reading this book is that if you are looking for a serious, religious book to get enlightened about Buddhism, then this book is not for you. It is a lighthearted, funny journey of the narrator in India, f ...more
Jan 01, 2009 Daniel rated it really liked it
I've read quite a few memoirs from "counter-culture" Buddhists (that is to say, people who believe in the Buddha's truths but find it hard to live without some of the finer pleasures in life), and this one is probably one of the best. Grozni makes it abundantly clear that he isn't the most pious monk in the world, but that lack of piety allows him to look at a lot of things in proper perspective.

I mean, a monk who admires the village prostitute for both her beauty and her attitude?

Jun 03, 2009 Coleen rated it liked it
It took awhile but in the end I enjoyed the book. At first I didn't relate well with the author and felt he went to India on a lark rather than a true spiritual journey. By the end of the book, I enjoyed the descriptions and personalities of the various folks he encountered. I also found it interesting the texts, rules, etc. regarding Buddhism -- it is not just the one with the universe spiritual enlightenment I would have expected.
Aug 18, 2008 Jean rated it liked it
I've gotten on some sort of meditation trend here: first "Eat, Pray, Love", and then "American Shaolin", and again "The year of Living Biblically" and now Turtle Feet which is kind of a combination of all of the above.
Nikolai Grozni grew up in Bosnia, moved to the US with his parents. Was a music prodigy in school in Boston when he decided to go to India and become a Buddhist monk
Mary Johnson
Jul 19, 2008 Mary Johnson rated it liked it
Recommends it for: guys who want to read about Tibet and friendship
Grozni's book is both funny and charming, the quest of a young man for meaning. Ultimately, it's not so much the story of a gifted pianist who becomes a Buddhist monk as it is a story of male bonging; a book about friendship as spirituality, though this is never made explicit in the text.

The stories are well-told, but Grozni doesn't delve deeply enough into the issues surrounding his life to make the stories worth their while.
Jun 04, 2008 Devon rated it liked it
Recommended to Devon by: People Magazine
I liked it but it very different than what I thought it was going to be like. It seems to me it's much more about the relationship he had with his friend, Tsar, than his experience as a monk in India. Despite the average rating, I did enjoy reading it. The escape "plans" towards the end of the book were the best part.
Oct 14, 2009 Lauren rated it really liked it
I was surprised by how much I liked this. Part travel-logue, part Dharma bums, it tells the story of a young Bulgarian piano prodigy, who gives up his studies at Berlee and moves to Dharamsala to become a Buddhist monk. The writing was fresh and funny with lots of vivid descriptions of every day life.
Jun 24, 2009 Liz rated it liked it
The book is described as "the making and unmaking of a Buddhist monk". In some ways it's a very iteresting book but I'm not sure I entirely liked it. It's the author's true story and he had some very interesting infomation about life as a Buddhist monk. But the rest of the story was just a bit unbelievable at times. Maybe it's all true - I want to hope it is.
Dec 24, 2008 Kayleigh rated it liked it
Shelves: philosophy
I was pretty disappointed- I guess I expected more philosophy and Buddhism. instead, Nikolai talks mostly about his sacriligious friend who loves sex and life. It's not a bad book-it just wasn't what I was expecting. He didn't really talk a lot about what made him become a monk, nor did he really explain why he disrobed. That would've been more interesting.
Sep 05, 2013 Todor rated it really liked it
I liked the way in which this memoir touches on some of my own views on soul-searching. I found it a pleasant surprise that it was not overly analytical or trying to forcefeed the reader a certain idea. Instead the story makes for an often amusing, matter-of-factly read combined with the author's occasional reflections upon the progress of his spiritual journey.
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Nikolai Grozni was born in Sofia, Bulgaria. He began training as a classical pianist at the age of four and won his first major award in Salerno, Italy, at the age of nine. He studied jazz at Berklee College of Music, Boston. He began writing while living in India, where he spent four years as a Buddhist monk, studying Tibetian texts at the Institute of Buddhist Dialects in Dharamsala. His first b ...more
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