Rinn's Reviews > From Dunes to Dior

From Dunes to Dior by Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar
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Oct 09, 12

bookshelves: non-fiction, biography, blog-tour, read-2012, ebook, reviewed
Read on September 28, 2012

I am an archaeology graduate. All I know of Qatar is that a lot of people I've met on excavations have worked out there - and that is the shameful extent of my knowledge. I felt that I really should know more about the country, since there seems to be a lot of archaeology going on there: hence my choice of reading From Dunes to Dior over Love Comes Later, plus the fact that I really enjoy memoirs.

Mohana sets up the perfect introduction for those who, like me, know absolutely nothing of Qatar - yet she avoids the easy mistake of giving us too much detailed information at once. An interesting mix of demographics, geography and history combined with a fluid writing style make for an easy-to-read background of the country, that doesn't read anything like a textbook despite all the facts and numbers. Whilst the topics covered are 'basic', this doesn't mean they are any less interesting - Mohana has a true talent for discussing everyday occurrences and creating a real story out of them.

It is fascinating just how multi-cultural Qatar actually is - Qataris are a minority in their own country - despite the strict citizenship laws (which are reminiscent of ancient Rome, pre-Caracalla). Mohana clearly points out and dismisses stereotypes, yet her essays show that racism is still quite evident, which is sad in this day and age.

A mix of serious and light-hearted essays balance the book out - I particularly enjoyed a humorous one on Dunkin' Doughnuts. Mohana is a strong woman, making a life for herself in a country that alienates her for many reasons; her book is an intriguing study of cultural stereotypes and the mixing of cultures, as well as a brilliant introduction to Qatar. I did notice a few spelling errors, but nothing too major.

If you are a fan of memoirs or love reading about other cultures I would highly recommend this book. It is presented as a series of essays, but don't let that put you off - they are well written, humorous (where appropriate) and simply fascinating.

Also posted on my blog, Rinn Reads.
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