, I have been away from this platform for a while yet every day of this last year, this is where I wanted to be .Life situations do not always let you prioritise . Family engagements took me to India in the early part of 2020. When I returned in August of 2020 to the US , I had stepped into an entirely different world of masking , universal precautions , social distancing ,lockdowns , travel restrictions , an alien place
Vaccines came and we heaved a sigh!
But even after a year ,we still are not in a position to write an obituary of the Pandmic and I feel this conversation is still very relevant
Author Fareed Zakaria , my all-time favorite ,is a journalist ,political commentator and author .He is the brilliant host of CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS .Besides other honors bestowed on him , he has been named one of the top global thinkers of the world .
His best seller , Ten Lessons for a Post Pandemic world ,help us introspect our social , political and economic milieu globally to tackle any pandemic like threats , under the heads of ” Ten Lessons “
It is an extensively researched book with an impressive bibliography and many interesting historical anecdotes . I have simplified the lessons , sometimes over simplified but it would help us to gather the salient points as a quick read
Center for disease control estimated that three quarters of new human disease originate in animals .That was the case in AIDS, Ebola ,SARS ,MERS, Bird Flu , Swine flu
Our open fast , on steroid world is encroaching their habitat at a reckless pace
Animals like bats can endure viruses which can debilitate human beings
Wet markets need to be regulated with healthy eating habits with less meat
Our society needs more “Air bags “, “Dousing of the vehicle” and “Buckling up
What matters is Quality of Government and not Quantity
We should try to have
1.Optimal belief in science
2. Enable Technocratic leaders
3. Trimming down layers of Bureaucracy and Red tapism would definitely bring better results .
MARKETS ARE NOT ENOUGH
1. Societies should not be “pay to play “
2. Government will have to accept a more active role in Economy
3 .Essential workers are not liabilities
4.Taking Denmark as an example ,Government should try to redistribute tax money amongst its citizens for a more economically equal and an abundant society .
People should listen to the Experts and Experts to people
1.Science is really about process of learning and discovering with many failures and disappointments
2.Scientists should” lift the Hood ” and show how it works
3.Elites should not have a dominating attitude and should not deaden their empathy and sensitivity towards others as the others” are the people they would be wielding their power on
LIFE IS DIGITAL
Digital world is proving to be a necessity
Every time a task moves to a” digital realm , it becomes easier to use with softwares automating it and optimise it
Artificial intelligence will be a big part of medicine , at par with human intelligence
AI can do “complicated analytic tasks better than humans but it needs a lot of data to process the resullts “
So we would learn to cherish the” human touch ,creativity ,unpredictability warmth and intimacy “
I hope you enjoyed reading this
I will be back soon with the review of remaining five lessons
My brief sabbatical was over in India as all good things must come to an end and I am back to the grind, my work, no pun intended, in the US
Travel during COVID times, well that needs a separate blog and I need to do it soon but I am sure it will be etched in my memory for a while even when” COVID “ itself would be a memory.
I had read this book a while ago and it was again one of those books which you wanted to reminiscence about it long after. We have come a long way from “Its time for Africa” but the journeys of developing nations are always arduous and trajectories have more” speed breakers” and “Road bumps” than “High ways”.
Authors from the African Continent are no more rising stars. They have contributed immensely to the world of English literature and have made their presence felt in a big way but interestingly, I had never read any relevant book till now.
Author, Chibundo Onuzo, gives us a vivid picture of, city of Lagos, which is an entertaining but equally poignant account of a nation which is still taking its faltering baby steps
She is a young Nigerian novelist who was published at the age of 21 years. Her first novel “The Spider King’s daughter” won a Betty Trask Award and was short and long-listed for other coveted awards. In June of 2018, Onuzo was elected fellow of the Royal Society Of Literature in the “40 under 40” initiative. When I read this book, she was doing her doctorate at King’s College London. I did not read her first novel but it surely is in my bucket list
In the book “Welcome to Lagos “ five very diverse characters representing very different strata of societies are thrown together on their journey to their dream city the “ city of Lagos. They are in denial with their present and try to dream of a better alternative by risking everything for an” unknown better “
Like the “Colonel’s hair spiraling out of the collar cuff “the army is brimming with misconduct, unfair practices, and power misuse. Chike Amoebi who is a soldier in the army with a “wasted biology degree”witnesses the excesses of his Boss on civilians as “Colonel had broken every one of the codes to deal with civilians” and “Colonel’s wildness seemed barely constrained by his starched uniform”. Amoebi with his subalterns” Yemi “, decides to break loose. The next to join them is” Fineboy”, who is a member of a random rebel group and who has possibly raped the next member to join the group. Fineboy has a hidden talent and nurtures a dream of being a Radio Jockey. Isoken “who is barely a woman” is a vulnerable young girl who has lost her family in the ongoing strife of the country and is seen as easy prey by the society, is taken in the protective fold of this” good meaning group “. Ona, the beautiful homemaker”, “whose husband loved her in the wayyou loved expensive shoes to be polished and glossed but at the of the end to be trodden “ who meets them on her way to Lagos as she decides to leave her well-ensconced life.
Since the group has no money and no connection they fall in dire straights and have to be homeless for a short while but somewhere cohesive forces develop amongst them and they do not leave each other’s side.
Fineboy, who is resourceful in his own way , comes across an abandoned property which is owned by Chief Sandayo, who is a typical minister of a corrupt nation on the wanted list for economic crimes.
In this property, they come across a sack full of money and here the author’s imagination takes a magical flight where instead of plundering the loot, they concur, that it is ill-gotten money and decide to spend it on up upliftment of education and society, which is the need of the hour, for the country. So one night, when Chief Sandayo walks in to claim what’s presumably his, he is held hostage by the group and is forced into philanthropy with them.
Ahmad, only a journalist child of corrupt and rich parents, another product of the rot, in the society was educated in London but decided to return to Lagos to start his own newspaper and cleanse the system.
As we read the book and characters, situations and plots unfold, I experience that painful “Déjà vu” of being a part of the story of the developing nation. Though the author dares to experiment with a utopian world where the stolen money is used for building schools and buying computers the author” course corrects” into reality and makes us realize that no such miracles are happening yet in the society. An immense volume of evil, immortality, and corruption eventually engulfs the righteousness, and the shameless march over the downtrodden continues.
The first few chapters let you take note of the author’s brilliant skills as her metaphors are clever, dialogues are relevant and humor is prominent but somewhere in the middle of the book, the climactic pull is loosened a bit. In the last few chapters, the plot thickens and realism takes over and readers can end the book with a good aftertaste.
The challenges of developing nations always seem insurmountable but like a “ rising star” the hopes and aspirations of even a small part of the population can always be the” Guiding light “ for a better tomorrow
The” purpose of lives “of these nations are clear and as long as” visions are alive”, it is the best “silver lining” for them
“ Welcome to Lagos “ is a” must-read” and I am excited to have found this brilliant author, who I am sure, would contribute immensely to the world of English literature
In Xanadu – A Quest – Book review –Author William Dalrymple
It was the year 1986 when Karakorum highway opened between Pakistan and China and William Dalrymple, conceived an ambitious project of following in the footsteps of Marco Polo in his summer break in Cambridge. Still wet behind the ears, all of 22 years, this daunting journey from Jerusalem to Xanadu in China had to be done on a paltry sum of 700 pounds, but possibly enough in those days.
It paved way for one of his best literary endeavors, his first book, In Xanadu – A Quest. No wonder, his book has caught more attention than any travelogues or documentaries made on this famous journey of Marco Polo.
Incidentally, this expedition was planned once before when the author was in the fifth standard with his friend, after reading a” Ladybird “ book on Marco Polo. He had no clue about “England “ or “China “, so they came back home for supper once the evening set in.
A Venetian, young Marco Polo, came to Jerusalem when he was seventeen years old with his Uncle and Dad in 1271. Christendom was undergoing a low phase in those times and Gregory X[the then Pope] had a whiff that Kubla Khan, grandson of Ghengis Khan was showing interest in conversion to Christianity. Chengis Khan was the then ruler of a vast empire from the Euphrates to Pacific and if he could be made a believer of Christianity, then this could have been the best possible move.
Chengis Khan wanted a sample of oil from the famous lamp which burned in Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem and Marco Polo and his team was given this responsibility
Polo was a hard-headed merchant’s son, so his account of travel was neither a diplomatic expedition to save Christianity nor a general account of the lands he passed. At the end of the journey, his goal was simple –“Profit “
This 12,000 miles journey spanning through multiple countries was not a cakewalk in any era. It takes us through Jerusalem, Syria, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, India, and finally ends in Xanadu in China.
Dalrymple was stood up by his friend and companion at the last minute. Though heartbroken, Laura , the substitute companion proved an asset. She not only braved the misogynist behavior and male gazes throughout the journey but proved to be a strict taskmaster for the author in keeping him on this whirlwind tour on schedule.
The author’s brilliant and personalized kaleidoscope of interaction with the different people en route to his destination made me fall in love with this book, a decade back. I still feel this is the best book of the author, in the genre that the author excels in and so I
William Dalrymple needs no introduction as far as his literary accomplishments are concerned. His books have won many awards and accolades and been made into television series. Currently, he divides his time between New Delhi and London.
He is an authentic, diligent, and honest historian and we are carried in too deep historical recesses of these places, which could have been missed otherwise. It is not about rewriting history but we can form a contemporary image of our own, of these places. His in-depth knowledge of art and architecture shines through the book as he travels through these ancient cities brimming with historical monuments.
Readers’ interest in historical travelogues is quite often porous but the book has been packed with a huge dose of humor and which stands out more so often in the form of anecdotes, incidents, and local dialects which makes it a page-turner.
West Asia has always confounded the world with its paradoxical and intricate neighborly relations. One wonders, how tolerance and intolerance, brotherhood and betrayals, fanaticism, and acceptance can reside side by side for so many centuries in a status quo fashion.
Our world is not fair and Jerusalem, the city of peace, the cradle of many religions including Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, the holiest place in the world has seen the most bloodshed to date.
History attracts as your mind can play an “action replay “ but the knots of history are not easy to untangle. We as humans will continue to rush towards such “Mission Impossible” as long as challenges would be present to us.
Ever wondered about the term “GUT FEELING “.Can the Gut feel? We will come to that in a minute
A long time ago, when I started practicing primary care back in the United States, I did so the same way most doctors do: by hearing what patients complain of their poor health (maybe a cough, cold, headache, anxiety, stress, etc.) and prescribing them a quick pill to pop. Results are visibly effective with both parties getting what they want and seeing less of each other. 😉
Heals in the short-term? Yes. Long-term? Not always.
Let me explain.
To the “good health” seekers. Gut works! Over the years of staying connected and updated, I have learned to appreciate the wonderfully designed body we humans have and its capacity to self-heal.
A solid awareness of what is entering and exiting your gut must always be an important consideration. Many of my patients in the US come to me with anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, and autism. Sadly, it is to do with their SAD or Standard American Diet (no pun intended) and their lifestyle.
Gut health has significant relevance in irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, constipation, metabolic syndromes, and behavioral health.
Prebiotics and probiotics create better environs for a healthy gut.
Natural home remedies, via good gut health, can help with weight loss, metabolic syndrome, and related disorders such as Diabetes Mellitus and high Cholesterol.
Now we will dig deeper into some of these conversations and my personal experience.
How to gut out poor health – Part 2
Two sodas a day keeps good health away.
That was perhaps the unconscious mantra one of my patients lived by, ignorant of her lifestyle.
A 70-year-old, white female, walked into my clinic to get treated for irritable bowel syndrome and anxiety. But all her blood tests and colonoscopy were normal. She took multiple medications, but to no avail.
Let us investigate her diet.
For the most part, it consisted of a white bread cheese sandwich for breakfast, ready-to-eat hamburger for lunch, and red meat chops for dinner. She would drink at least four cups of coffee and two liters of soda every day.
She was ONLY suggested for a change of diet with oatmeal for breakfast instead of the cheese sandwich. Fresh vegetable salad, soup, fruits, yogurt, sauerkraut, home-cooked chicken or salmon preparations for lunch or dinner. Alongside this, she was asked to increase her water intake and exercise at least half an hour to forty-five minutes daily.
The results were flawless.
After a few months, not only her anxiety waned but her bowel habits were more regular with less abdominal pain, flatulence, and bloating.
How you may ask? Surely, gut.
Gut, which has more than 100 million nerve cells, also called the enteric nervous system (ENS), is being called the second brain. Multiple studies have shown that treating this second brain can treat your brain. They are both parts of the nervous system and nurturing one, will nurture the other tackling your various behavioral health issues.
Gut health does not bias with age. It is important as much as for babies as for adults. Babies, who are born by natural birth and have been breastfed have more bacterial diversity in their gut. This further gets augmented with diets rich in fibers, whole grain, and fruits in adult life. These bacteria, in turn, produce more butyrate (short-chain fatty acid), which makes the gut lining less porous and hence less entry of toxins in the blood and to the brain, besides having an anti-inflammatory effect and boosting the immunity of the body.
So, the take-home message is, we need more fruits, vegetables, lean meats in our diet along with hydration and exercise. Pre-biotics and pro-biotics create a better gut environment and the key to a better gut microbiome is, greater diversity of bacteria which means a variety of healthy foods.
Holistic and preventative health needs to be our priority in current COVID times and Gut health plays a big role in it.
The gut needs to be courted well and on a long term basis , like a good friend ,spouse or girlfriend for a healthy and happy life.
Gut out. Gut going. Stay gutted.
Gut health has had many exciting breakthroughs in the recent past. We would again touch base soon in near future
“He who does not understand your silence will not understand your words”
We have shared multiple book reviews on this platform in the past and most instances I have felt “the Nudge “ by those books. I was waiting for that cue, as far as my fiction writing skills were concerned. Ironically, that is yet to happen but in the meantime, I came across this brilliant debut novel and I had this compulsive desire to share it with you.
The protagonist’s single-minded pursuit of “ silence “ of her heroine and his obsessive efforts to solve the mystery surrounding her by unraveling the knots of her mind is worth a read.
Author, Alex Michaelides, commenced his literary trajectory with a degree in English from Cambridge followed by screenwriting. He has written screenplays for the films, “Devils you know “ and the “Con is On “.There was a brief interlude in his writing career by being trained as a psychotherapist. He is of Cypriot – Greek and English descent and currently resides in London.
Psychological thrillers have always touched a chord in me as my patients in primary care have behavioral health issues in multitudes and they are one of the most recalcitrant problems to treat. Navigating the human mind is an ongoing challenge of present-day medicine and medical challenges are always thrilling for me
Theo Faber is a psychotherapist and he is intrigued by Alicia, the beautiful artist, who had gone mute after killing her handsome photographer husband. Alicia had grown up with a mentally unstable family and she has her mental health issues but is an artist of promise and potential and her only communication to the world after the murder, is a painting “Alcestis”
She paints “Alcestis”, the heroine of a Greek tragedy by, Euripides, who volunteers to die for her husband, Admetus, and when” Alcestis “ is brought back to life by Hercules, she loses her speech.
Alicia is committed to a secured psychiatric unit “The Grove” as there are concerns about her mental competence in the court of law.
Six years later there is an opening in the “The Grove” and Theo joins the unit though the unit is on the brink of closure due to financial hardships.
Theo’s endeavors to treat Alicia has an unconventional and obsessive quality to it, while he deals with his mental health issues, drug addiction, and infidelities of his wife. He prefers to “Bury his head in the sand” and refuses to confront his wife about it
Alicia reacts violently to Theo’s psychotherapy sessions but Theo’s empathy for Alicia bordering on to infatuation persists. He patiently and steadily prods ahead with his interviews of the people, who, he thinks could be remotely associated with Alicia’s present state
As a last resort, Theo wants Alicia to start painting again.
I do not want to be a spoilsport for readers by demystifying the plot, so I would let them read it for themselves
All-Pros, hardly any cons
“ The Silent Patient “ splashed on the” Best Seller” world almost a year back and it is still making ripples on all the major bestseller lists. Author amazes us with an amalgam of psychotherapy training and his literary skills
The novel has a perfect opening “Alicia Berenson was thirty-three years old when she killed her husband “
But the icing is the end when all my deductions and rationalizations come to naught and your “Aha “ moment is way off from the actual story
The greek tragedy “Alcestis” inspired him when he was a school going, kid. His heroine Alicia, the artist, and the murderess undergoes a similar transformation after the intense mental trauma of her unreciprocated love. Besides readers who love literature, it was an added dimension of storytelling which added mythicism and romanticism to the novel
Despite not many crescendo decrescendo moments, the story hurls forward with plenty of twists and turns and the climactic pull is always intact.
The interview sessions, bureaucratic cordons and interoffice politics of the Psychiatric unit gives us a perfect backdrop of the novel
The chapters are short and crisp and dialogues predominate [his screenwriter presence] which keeps up the paciness of the novel.No wonder in most of the reviews of the book, it has been called an unputdownable pageturner
The human mind surpasses supercomputers in its complexities and we are still navigating its mazes. Its defense mechanisms are strong when it protects us from various traumas the mortal world inflicts on us like betrayals, loss of loved ones. But its reactions could be equally varied. On one end of the spectrum, it can be as accepting and forgiving but when the avenger side of the brain predominates, it can be as ruthless, conniving and devious
People are seeking help for their mental disorders if their self-awareness is up to the mark. Mental disorders could be a refuge, a camouflage, a retreat but some times it is a societal threat and if not identified at the right moment, it raises its ugly head in the most catastrophic manner
“The Silent Patient “ has been bagged by the movie makers and I am sure it is going to be a grand success
We are all eagerly waiting for the author’s next venture
Hope to talk to you soon on this platform
Till then keep safe and happy
Blog – Insight from my Topsy World[https://twohomes.blog]
I felt my sabbatical from blogging was like two best friends just drifted apart without any apparent reason. Life commitments took priority in the past few months but true passions always have a way to beckon you back to its folds
Then the Pandemic happened and it continues to dare and humble us. Professional expertise of physicians, researchers, immunologists have fallen off the rails and to date, we have not found a foolproof treatment plan for this menace.
Healthy people with a better immune system tend to fare better in the “Corona Era” and immune boosters are the “new favorites “today. Lots of my patients are very curious about natural ways of healing and they would always carry bottles of supplements besides their prescription medications, for a reiteration from their physician.
I thought a great way to reconnect with you all is to discuss a “Magic spice”, “Turmeric”.
Turmeric has been used in ancient cultures from time immemorial for its multiple uses and it is a staple , even in western pantries, as an important cooking ingredient.
The Mistress Of Spices – TURMERIC- in the times of Coronavirus
Coronavirus made its deadly global debut and we are still floundering to pinpoint a successful antidote. Our blindfolded darts are on antimalarials, nucleic structure modulators, antibiotics but it is emerging strongly that our innate immunity plays a very strong role in preventing worst outcomes.
Turmeric was always held in high esteem in health care of many cultures as a strong immunity booster, for almost 4000 years.
In Sanskrit, it was called by 53 different names identifying its varied physical attributes and its multifarious use. Its brilliant yellow color (a.k.a Indian saffron), silken soft texture, and its multiple roles played as an important immunity booster, medicinal ingredient, cooking ingredient, never let it fade its prominence.
Like everything important and ancient, turmeric has a Latin parental name .”Terra Merrita “ (meritorious earth )-referred to the color of ground turmeric
Turmeric is a product of “Curcuma Longa”-a rhizomatous herbaceous perennial plant belonging to the ginger family. India produces nearly all the world’s turmeric crop and consumes 80% of it all. There is a city in South India “Erode”, which is the largest producer and trader of turmeric. It is also called the “Yellow City” or the “Turmeric City “
The main life-saving ingredient in turmeric is 3-5% of curcumin.
From East to West
.Our forefathers have known it’s healing powers and was used in concoction mixed with milk or tea or with honey. No wonder its uses are resurfacing as an antioxidant, liver detoxifier, anticancer agent, prevention of Alzheimer’s, pain-relieving agent besides immunity booster, and an anti-inflammatory agent. As per US FDA, Food and drug administration, its clinical trial on turmeric has declared its active component “curcumin” as GRAS (generally regarded as safe ) So in the US, turmeric and its components are currently being used in mustard cereals, chips, cheese butter, and other products
“ Hit or Miss; “Corona and Curcumin “
The perplexing modus operandi of the evil coronavirus has put the whole world on its heels. Globally physicians, scientists, and epidemiologists have been taken to their tasks by the guerilla warfare of the virus. The disease not only wreaks havoc on the lungs and airways but also the heart, blood vessels, kidneys, gut, and nervous system. It’s unknown if the virus directly attacks these organs or it’s a body’s wide overreaction of the immune system.
Curcumin acts as an anti-inflammatory agent and an antioxidant. So ideally speaking it should help us fighting the virus infection. But something called ACE-2 is expressed when COVID-19 infection occurs and Curcumin has shown to express ACE-2. This means that curcumin can make us more prone to corona infection
So, where do we stand?
So it seems that though curcumin makes us more vulnerable for catching infections when, one is already infected with the virus, as an anti-inflammatory and an antioxidant, it helps us fight the infection
My Dose or High Dose
Despite 3000 + publications on turmeric and its related compounds, exact dosing has not been found out for any disease process. Typically advised dose is 500-2000 mg of turmeric /day. Turmeric contains 3% of curcumin compared to 95% in commercial extract .when used in the diet , it is 2000-2500 mg of turmeric (60-100mg)of curcumin per day. The same amount in the extract form may pack up to 1900-2375 mg of curcumin.
As per the European Food Safety Authority and WHO, allowable daily intake is 0-3mg/kg body weight. The gut absorption of turmeric is not very good. A compound called piperine, found in black pepper, if taken with turmeric, can increase its absorption by 2000%,
Turmeric has a mind of its own and sometimes it can cause allergic reactions, stomach pains, diarrhea , constipation , nausea, and vomiting in some people. For the most part, if eaten in food at a low level over long periods, it is safe.
As per some studies, it can worsen gall bladder disease symptoms, kidney stones lowering of blood sugars in diabetes, can act as a blood thinner.
To date, Our “Mistress of Spice “ continues to allure us with its mystical properties. It beckons us with its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory , antibacterial antiviral, antiseptic , cardio protective, liver, and kidney protective functions and as a digestive additive but confounds us with chemical instability and absence of selective target activity. On a lighter note, it has been called “promiscuous “by the researchers as it can interact with several proteins together which can increase its chances of toxicity.
Turmeric has stood the test of time and if taken in the diet , in a small amount it has proved beneficial for humankind but our understanding of it still oscillates like a pendulum before converging towards any definite answer.
I hope some of the questions were answered about the “wonder spice ” “Turmeric ” and we would chat some more about immune boosters in future .
In our last blog we talked about Ishiguro’s “The Buried Giant ” where it was a fabled world, set in a different era with a very contemporary story Today, I would like to share with you another much reviewed best seller EXIT WEST by Author Mohsin Hamid where the story begins at an undisclosed geographical location possibly Middle East ,considering the names of protagonists and the setting .Their “Geography is destiny” and their life is sad , harsh and transient .But magical realism gives the characters imaginative escapes or exits to a peaceful, picturesque western world .
Author really needs no introduction as he writes regularly for the New York Times , the Guardian and the New York Review of Books . He is of Pakistani descent and has lived in New York and London . I have read his previous two best sellers , The Reluctant Fundamentalist [Short listed for the Man Booker Prize] and Moth Smoke .
“Moth Smoke” was his first work of fiction ,where author analyses the ugly paradoxes of the developing world in which our protagonist begins the process of self annihilation ,like a moth to the flame .
In his second novel “The Reluctant Fundamentalist “ protagonist Changez takes an inward journey of metamorphosis and reaffirms his decision of relocation to his Native land of Pakistan from the mirage of abundance and glitz and glamor of America
In his third novel , Exit West , author transitions by exiting to West .
The story “Exit West “ , begins in an unnamed city “Teetering at the edge of abyss ” . Impending taking over of the city by militants is the back drop . Though the residents of the city are trying to maintain a facade of normalcy but gradually they are being stripped off their rights of being a human . Nadia and Saeed , our protagonists , two young people fall in love, in such times .
Nadia though always dresses traditionally “from the tips of her toes to the bottom of her jugular notch, her lifestyle does not concur with the practices of her society .She lives alone ,rides a motorcycle, supports herself and does not pray .Saeed , on the other hand is educated with a” nostalgic temperament” an employed adult, who chose to live with his parents, as is customary in some parts of the world . They are like any two regular people who enjoy the digital world , try psychedelic mushrooms and explore each other
Tragedy struck when Saeed’s mother is killed by a bomb and Nadia and Saeed has no choice but to leave the city with the usual doubts lurking in back that they would be “at the mercy of strangers ,subsistent on hand outs ,caged in prison like vermins ” .Saeed’s father supports their decision but he himself decides to stay back in the doomed city with the memories of his wife .
Nadia and Saeed are transported though the magical doors to first a Greek island and then to the streets of London and eventually to San Francisco where they are met by thousands of others like themselves , where they are never really allowed to assimilate and each time are thrown away from the mainstream like scum
The ratio of doors opening get inversely proportional to the tensions mounting in the “Nativists” who reaffirm that refuge seekers were the root cause of all their problems
‘”where the division that mattered now were between those who sought the right of passage and those who would deny them”
Physical survival could not maintain Nadia and Saeed’s relationship and Nadia seeks solace by releasing Saeed and Saeed in prayers .
It is a fast paced , tightly edited novel all of two hundred some pages where the climatic pull is enough but in certain parts of the book when author zooms in and out of some incidents happening in other parts of the world , readers could feel confounded .
We might call the theme cliché but yet again author surfs through the book in his unique style that the readers have a lot to interact in the psychic space .The scatter from the main story line some time though disengaging, never completely disconnects the readers .
Author is empathetic and it finds its resonance in its readers .This part of the world has always been that prodigal child, that rest of the world does not know how to embrace , that is an out of bound location, that is so fraught with danger that one would not be able to touch and heal ,that cause where more would always be less .
Author gives a voice to the women of the society by stating that Nadia’s black robes which she did not need to wear even in her own city but she chose to wear till the end is something that when one wants to send a certain signal , could be any body’s choice trying to defy the universal objectification of female form and not always an imposition
Patriotism comes forth when Saeed’s dad refuses to leave the city and wonders if he did go wrong by choosing to be a teacher ,a researcher a fighter and not head west ward towards financial security .
We know in our hearts of hearts that humanity is slaughtered in this part of the world every day but we are happy to be blinded and fiercely protective of our ensconced selves .We prefer to harbor the idea of sharing and caring only in theology and never in practice .This pervasiveness of senseless self preservation just reminds us of the sad times we are in .
Mohsin Ahmad’s books are always a critique’s delight and are extensively taught in writing courses and writing workshops .
Its definitely a reader’s delight and worth reading .