The Kabul Beauty School -Author -Deborah Rodriguez

The Kabul Beauty School -Author -Deborah Rodriguez

 

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I  have been happily digressing since my second stint at blogging . I was earlier restricting myself to Indian authors who were writing in English Language .Kazuo Ishiguro is a talent house and I would definitely be reading more of his works but the book I would be sharing with you all today is definitely worth a read .

Not too long ago , when I was on a short trip to India , I visited my usual  Bookshop in the Southern part  of New Delhi .I always carry my own list of books as time is always short and it is definitely not easy to discern the kind of books you want to buy .But the owner of the shop always has a bigger pile than mine .He  recommended me this book , rather, a couple of her books and I had no regrets .

” The Kabul Beauty  School ”  is authored by Deborah Rodriguez .This is her memoir when she was in Afghanistan for few years . She is an American author ,who had decided to volunteer as a member of a small NGO, during the times , when Taliban had just been driven away from mainstream Afghanistan politics .Though physically the Talibs were not present , but their  unwritten rules pretty much dominated the country During those times , lots of well meaning people and organizations had gone to the country to help  it  being rebuilt .

Deborah [Debbie] ,in those days  was trying to come to terms with her second divorce She decided to  train herself in disaster management and took the plane to Afghanistan  She found out that she was the odd one out of the group as most of the other members were  related to health care  . She was a beautician by profession .But surprisingly , she was welcomed with open arms as most of the Beauty salons had been destroyed by the religious fanatics .Whatever threadbare services were available ,It was being  practiced with antique tools .

Her one time visit to the country  changed her life forever .Besides the rampant destruction and  poverty , what moved her the most was the plight of women .Subjugation and disempowerment of women was to its extreme .Women were not allowed any education . They had to follow a strict dress code and were not allowed to travel anywhere without a male member . They were not allowed to sit in the front of the car, leave aside driving .Moral degradation was abysmal as young girls were bartered by the family due  for money , security or other favors .

In this hostile terrain , Debbie , dared to think about  empowering women with whatever talent or resources she had ,so that,  at least a few women of the country could live  a life of dignity .She knew what she was getting into but that did not deter her .She coordinated with all the big names in the Beauty World of the US  and garnered for their support .

Philanthropy is  a  part of US culture and  she could get more than what she expected from various quarters and she could start her “Beauty without Borders ”  the training school and Salon .During her five years stay , it was always  two steps backward and one step forward .Love and marriage happened to her in Afghanistan  but initially , that too , more so keeping in mind , the  extra local help, she would need to keep her school and Salon running .

It was living on a daily basis but what kept her going was, the  indomitable spirit of Afghan women, who were surmounting all the obstacles of their life to carve out a better life for their family and themselves .Not to mention the lack of basic amenities ,intimate partner violence ,ludicrous laws of the state …the list was very long

The book is an easy read and it keeps you glued to it .Her sense of humor resurfaces again and again as we go through the book .Its appeal is that where we ordinary mortals do not dare to venture ,we get a first  hand account of the happenings .

As we read the book , we appreciate her courage and strength of character .She has a very spontaneous attitude and listens to her heart more than her head and that’s what makes her so  special. She took the call and  risked her everything ,even life, at lots of instances, so that the poor women could have a better life .Her only reward was that by the time she left,  she had trained  enough teachers, so that the skill could be disseminated even in her absence .The women who were trained by her were earning more than 400 percent of what their family earning was before .

I would not call it an eye opener but definitely it jolts you from your slumber that  still there are lots of places in the world where women are living a sub human life . By  being mute spectators or by just doing donations  ,we are not definitely doing  enough .We need more voices , more platforms and more courage .

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas .

 

 

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The Remains of the Day

The Remains of the Day – A literary treasure

 

It’s been  almost seven months that  I am posting something new  on my blog site .I  was not being lazy .My professional duties kept me away. In the process , reading took a back seat .But in my hearts of heart , I knew something was amiss.

I  have never had a chance to read Kazuo Ishiguro before and it was my loss .He is this year’s Nobel Prize Winner for literature .He is of Japanese descent based in the UK .I  had mostly confined myself to the books written by Indian authors who were writing in English Language . But once I read his  book , I realized  I  what  I  was  missing out .I have ordered some of his books online and along the line I hope to share them with you .

Lately my blogs have been about books written by authors of critical acclaim .I neither have the capacity nor intention to review those books .But when I read something worthwhile ,I feel more people  with similar interests should experience the same inner bliss.

History always attracts me and in the book “The Remains of the Day ” the backdrop is of the period of  during the World Wars .We get to read a lot of literature of those times as European Continent was undergoing upheavals and newer equations were being visualized between the countries of the Continent .UK was one of the key players in the Wars which changed the path of the history .

The Story teller of this book is an English Butler , Stevens, who is an older gentleman who is currently being employed by an American Master .Stevens   embodies all the qualities of a true gentleman and  a perfect butler .In the past , he  was employed by a British Lord , Lord Darlington . Lord Darlington had a significant political influence in his country and had  association with great political figures of the time . Their abode was called Darlington Hall and they held meetings of great importance there . He had a staff under him to manage the household and the great events that took place there .He took great pride in his profession and would continually try to excel himself . He would also follow the Hand book of the great butlers to be the best of the best

Stevens never allowed himself any other privileges in life . His only aim in his life was to be of complete assistance to his Lord  and in the process there could be his small contribution in shaping the history of his country and the World .His dedication was so complete that anything that proved a hindrance was never allowed by him to happen .

As his ailing father lays in the death bed in the same house ,he did not deem it appropriate to be at his bedside as it would have caused inconvenience to his Lord and his great mission .A  house keeper who worked under him and both of them were interested in each other but he never encouraged her or himself to go forward on that path .

But there is no force in this world that  can stop the changing times .Darlington  Hall changed hands and he gets his employment with the new Master . His American master is very generous and offers him his car and gas money to take a break and visit the country side which he had never done before .There is another interest as he would be meeting the same house keeper at the end of the journey .

Author takes us on  this journey as Steven introspects about his life revisits his convictions .What seemed right and true in his younger days did not seem now. His perfect life had some big voids that was impossible to fill now .

Author  is brilliant in his art form and has used very simple English .We get a glimpse of the  Britain’s country side and the rural life of those days . The higher standard that people held themselves accountable to  in those days  are getting rarer and rarer day by day .Author reiterates that as we approach our twilight years we realize that loved ones are the  most treasured possessions of our life and they should be chased with the same intensity as other goals of life .

It’s  a book which will be in your memory forever and I am looking forward to reading and sharing other books by the same author .

Happy Holidays .