On a flight back to US from India, about half an hour was left to land in San Francisco, everyone was asleep, when we heard the captain speaking overOn a flight back to US from India, about half an hour was left to land in San Francisco, everyone was asleep, when we heard the captain speaking over the intercom. All I heard was something about how we were about to land in Japan. In my sleepy state I assumed that something was wrong with the plane and was about to panic when my husband told me the rest of the captain's message. Apparently we were denied entry into United States because a passenger was on their no-fly list.
On landing in Japan, as we all emptied the plane, I saw a family of about 6 - a young boy, bearded, about 20, and women of different ages wearing burkha's - sitting quietly in the center seats not meeting anyones eyes. I remarked to my husband about how horrid they must be feeling, that just because they are Muslims they must have shown up on the security radar for US. Once the aircraft had been emptied out, the family was brought out with about 10 men surrounding them and taken away. We boarded the plane again and went on our way. Once there, we told our friends about our "adventure" and had discussions about racial profiling, heard stories from others about how they had been subjected to profiling. Pro's and con's of racial profiling, US government, security, prejudice, patriotism, terrorism.. I'm sure you can all imagine what was discussed and debated. I remember sympathizing with the family on the plane.
About a week later, I read that the young boy had later been sent to US and arrested on arrival. Allegedly he had gone to Pakistan and had taken part in a terrorist camp. I did not follow the case since then.
Those of you who are still reading this post, thanks :). Throughout the book, as I heard Changez (the young Pakistani protagonist) talk about his life in America, I followed him on all the various issues he tackles in the book. Be it his social identity, his professional acceptance, America's fair treatment to him and his achievements. But as I finished the book, my thoughts forked out to this incident. I don't know what happened to the boy in the plane. How accurate were the accusations? Did he or why did he join a camp and many questions that went through my mind. Many that would remain unanswered. I did wish Mohsin Hamid had ended the book on a definite note, but then that would have made it more fictional than real in account.
This extremely fluid, unapologetic, frank, point of view had me hooked from page 1. Changez a young muslim, confident, achiever, confused, looking for acceptance, searching for identity, guilty of abandoning family, trying to define his patriotism, enjoying the fruits of his labor - all his layers come through with such clarity. I really enjoyed the narrative style. It flowed naturally. It felt like you were right there listening in on an actual conversation.
Mohsin Hamid has not held back Changez's thoughts to be politically correct, or tried to portray Changez as a victim. The Reluctant Fundamentalist is an honest, at times appealing and at times disconcerting, account of a man's internal thoughts, who knows that he may be a few feet away from death and has nothing to lose by telling all.
This is one of the quirkiest books I've read. If you are one to hit the papers first thing in the morning to solve Sudoku, Kakuro, Mind bender, then gThis is one of the quirkiest books I've read. If you are one to hit the papers first thing in the morning to solve Sudoku, Kakuro, Mind bender, then go ahead and read this book. This is definitely your kind of book.
The Man Who Counted is about a mathematician Beremiz Samir and how he solves different problems with his knowledge of mathematics. Sort of like your Arabian Sherlock Holmes, just that the problems may not be that gory in nature. More like fights over camel distribution and such. He is not your regular human calculator, rather someone who sees romance in mathematics just as he sees it in nature, poetry. It is a collection of logical puzzles, stories, observations, anecdotes. The stories are written by Malba Tahan in the manner of storytellers of old.
The quirkiness doesn't end there. Malba Tahan is a fictitious person. The book is really written by a Brazilian mathematics professor, Júlio César de Mello e Souza's. This isn't just your regular pseudonym, Julio Cesar created a complete persona of an Arabic traveler Malba Tahan and wrote the books completely from his perspective.
The book uses interesting fables like dividing inheritance of camels amongst brothers to show how seemingly complex mathematics can be so simple and used in ordinary things. I think it can be a good tool for teachers, when mathematics becomes a chore for kids, to them the "cool" aspect of mathematics.
For those who enjoy solving logic puzzles, or even those wondering the point of Microsoft interview questions, this will be a good read. The problems may not seem like much, but the combination of storytelling with mathematics is an amusing read.
Salaam Paris is about a 19 year old Indian Muslim girl, Tanaya Shah, from a conservative family. She leaves Mumbai to go to Paris under the guise of mSalaam Paris is about a 19 year old Indian Muslim girl, Tanaya Shah, from a conservative family. She leaves Mumbai to go to Paris under the guise of meeting the man she has been promised to. Once in Paris, she breaks away from her family. Ignoring the gnawing guilt of behaving unlike a good Muslim and to find the her individual freedom that she romantically links with Paris, having dreamed of achieving Zen-like satisfaction a la Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina.
She goes on to become one of the most sought after models in the Paris fashion industry. The book follows her rise and super stardom and her time amongst the rich, beautiful and famous in Paris and New York. Sounds promising for a quick fun read, doesn't it. I thought so. I was wrong. Its an absolute bore.
For a book with so much to play around with, there is no flavor or pizazz to it. It gives no more insight into the orthodox Muslim world than the 2 words themselves "orthodox Muslim". The same goes for the "fashion industry".
For a story that revolves around exciting and beautiful cities, Mumbai, Paris, New York, the book is a real drab. I was hoping it would be full of insights into the fashion world, or maybe some tender thoughts of a young Muslim girl abandoned by her family for wanting to be an individual. Instead it reads more like a Women's Era story. It may sound harsh but there was not a single line which made me laugh, enjoy the moments or cheer for her in her quest for freedom.
Do I even have to say what happens in the end. Like every unimaginative Hindi movie, this too ends with Tanaya leaving her (pretty cool, I think) job for a husband. All that rebellion for nothing! Don't get me wrong, I am not against her choice, just that somehow a lot of books/movies tend to focus and preach on the struggle of a woman to prove herself and then show her ending up with the very life she was rebelling against. As if a woman is only truly satisfied with a husband and kids. The only thing I agreed with was when she slightly redeems herself in the end by trying to live her own life finally and not be bogged down by guilt passed on by her family.
Kavita Daswani tries to pull off a compelling let-me-live-my-life book but it's very weak. I think I had high expectations seeing that she had been a fashion editor.
I would have been better off reading one of the raunchy Shoba De books.
Confessions of a Shopaholic was just the book to get me over a book hangover. It is a quick and funny read.
The book follows Rebecca Bloomwood who is dConfessions of a Shopaholic was just the book to get me over a book hangover. It is a quick and funny read.
The book follows Rebecca Bloomwood who is deep in debt solely because of her shopping excesses. Her weak and naive attempts at controlling her shopaholic nature have as much success as... as doing yoga while gorging on potato chips would. The irony of all, she is a financial journalist writing for Successful Savings magazine. Sure the book is quite predictable, but that doesn’t take away from the entertainment of watching her stumble through tricky situations and come out clean. Makes me wish I was a character in a book.
Bridget Jones Diary is a personal favorite and I found myself comparing the two, and Confessions lagged behind. However, if you want to read something in this genre, then pick it up. But be warned it is not for the weak-hearted(read weak-walleted). All the shopping expeditions... made me feel like I just spent a bomb at a mall....more
Gifted, Nikita Lalwani's debut novel is an effortless read. Nikita balances the strong immigrant theme and that of a child's angst (at a time when theGifted, Nikita Lalwani's debut novel is an effortless read. Nikita balances the strong immigrant theme and that of a child's angst (at a time when the child is too young to even understand such emotions) very naturally.
Rumi is 5 when she is identified as a gifted mathematician. A label that takes over her life, her thoughts and her family. Mahesh, Rumi's father, channels all his immigrant insecurities into making sure that Rumi is his proof to his adoptive country. The proof that his rigid belief's are the right way to raise children.
Rumi's daily life from the young age of 5 is not unlike a bootcamp. Her rigorous schedule reminded me of my study timetables, just that mine started in the 10th grade and her's, when she is barely in the 1st grade. Her thoughts and emotions are peppered with numbers and equations. Her affinity to use maths to even understand and explain herself is endearing. She equates her dad's expression to an approximate sign (~), trying to decipher if that indicates his mood as "approximately happy, or sad".
Nikita has captured the Indian family of the 80's very well. A strict disciplinarian father who sees excellence in education as the only way out. An emotionally tuned in but clueless mother,Shreene, who can see her child's changing personality but is incapable of understanding why. An impressionable child, who is living in two cultures, yet is complete withdrawn from both. Her only release from her anguish being an entirely odd addiction.
Nikita has bluntly etched out the characters of Mahesh and Shreene. I thought that was a very bold move. There are no late realizations about being open to their daughter's feelings or turning a new leaf and finally being together as a happy family. To the end each character stays very real. Just as in real life, the generation gap coupled with immigrant sentiments is too strong to just come out of.
I was very curious to read the book since it was long listed for the Booker 2007. I have to say Nikita has brushed through so many issues, loneliness in a new country, the quintessential confused child balancing two cultures, parenting, without forgetting that which is core to the story. The little girl and parental expectations. That which makes it universal. I think the simplicity through all of this makes it a good book.