Modi: Wheels of Change

On this date, Narendra Modi is too familiar a name to need any introduction. Actively taking over the Indian political scene, his rapid reforms at the Central level are being widely lauded. With some or the other headline being made on almost a daily basis, the book ‘Modi: Wheels of Change’ by ASM Shamsul Arefin and Sanghamitra Saha comes in very handy as it compiles the activities of the BJP government in power (though only the ones that were carried out during the first 6 months of the party coming in power).

The book doesn’t focus extensively on Modi’s personal life, nor does it entirely talk about how Modi rose to power. It does not even draw any direct comparison between the functioning of the current government and the previous one. Quoting from the description of the book, ‘this book is a compilation of the writing and activities related to Modi’s electoral commitment, day-to-day work and governance of the BJP’. With the first part of the book dedicated to some background narration on Modi’s life (facts, information, very brief biography and his few firsts after he swore as the PM), it is ensured that a person unaware of Modi’s background too knows sufficient to get started. The background also covers the details of the subsequently chosen cabinet of ministers.

My favourite thing about the book has been the way only the key points of every activity/headline have been focused on. Everything has been briefed up very crisply. It makes for a neat write-up and it is convenient for the reader too for going through the same. The facts have been compiled keeping in mind well the way they can serve historians and students. And since the information has directly been taken from governmental papers, articles and news items published nationally and internationally, as well as new media sources, the authenticity of the matter is assured, along with the matter being well-written. Besides, no compromise has been made with the number of facts that have been shared. For example, in the Chapter 16 – Day-wise Programme of the first 100 days as Prime Minister (May to September), every single day’s work by the government has been covered point-wise. It makes us both appreciate the BJP government for its active presence in the political scene, as well as makes us admire the authors’ efforts at compiling all the relevant information effectively.

Another noteworthy thing implementation in this book has been the way how after regular intervals, some major news on Modi by some of the top-notch news agencies has been highlighted by printing them in large letters, giving them an entire page. That goes on to set a tone for the book which quite adds to the interest of reading such a work of non-fiction.  Together with all of these, a couple of Modi’s speeches from different occasions have been written too (which definitely would be of great joy to someone who admires Modi’s brilliant oration skills, which is most of us).

The last section of the book covers Modi’s visits abroad. No doubt this needed a separate section (haha). While his visits abroad get criticized heavily, in this book the diplomatic significance of those trips have been elaborated very well, again, by taking matter from the articles by reliable news agencies for the source. Also, I cannot forget mentioning the images section which covers PM Modi’s images from some key events he has been to. However, a couple of pictures (12 of them), don’t have a caption telling where and with whom are they taken with, which is my only (tiny) complaint for this 503-paged compilation.

Reading through this book, sure made my view of Modi resonate with that of Shimon Peres’ (the Nobel Peace Prize Winner and former Prez of Israel): ” Modi combining best of Gandhi, Nehru to bring ‘3rd revolution’ in India.” (-IBN Live)

Other details of the book :-

Title: Modi: Wheels of Change
Editor: ASM Shamsul Arefin, Sanghamitra Saha
PublisherBee Books (Twitter: @bee_books)
Pages: 503
Genre: Non-Fiction/Documentation

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Pupils’ President: A.P.J. Abdul Kalam

If I had to name one celebrated personality who has motivated me the most for ages now, I’d straightaway name Dr A. P. J. Abdul Kalam. Hence I couldn’t resist picking up the book based on his life when I saw it. Pupils’ President, the book that brings to life a detailed caricature of the late Dr Kalam, is edited by Satyam Roychowdhury. Don’t be mistaken in treating this book as a biography. It’s rather a compilation of multiple interviews, speeches and even some poems by Dr Kalam. Additionally, it also has tributes made to (and by) him, articles written about him across multiple forums and even the eulogies written for him. Clearly prepared with a lot of hardwork, it contains well-researched matter, put together in a way as to give the reader a proper overview into the way Dr Kalam had led his life.

Starting with an Oath for the Youth, The Student’s Prayer and an Oath for the Teacher, the book gives the reader a head-start with all the elements that speak loud of Dr Kalam, for these have been delivered by Dr Kalam himself at numerous interaction sessions that he had conducted during his lifetime. Thereon, post the Prologue by the editor, follows the story of a boy who becomes the Dr Kalam we admire. At the beginning of every chapter, a quote by Dr Kalam has been put, and within the chapters are the pictures of events, objects, places and people related to Dr Kalam. Those have to be my favourite things about the book, for the fact that Dr Kalam’s quotes happen to be really motivating and also, it’s my belief that the addition of pictures goes on to increase the appeal of any narration.

The core idea of the entire book seemed to be to highlight the fact how fond Dr Kalam was of teaching. This detail establishes how aptly the book is named. While I cannot comment on the writing style of this book, for it is not exactly a narration but instead, a compilation, I can definitely say that it helped me gain quite some insight into Dr Kalam’s personality, for it’s the articles on him and the interactions people had had with him that did the talking using multiple, unbiased voices.

The only slight grudge I had with the book has to be the lack of further effort by the editor in getting some additional content for the book. While the book is definitely a well-researched one, it just stays to be that, with the lack of additional, lesser-explored facts on the life of Dr Kalam, that might’ve been some major triggers in his life, and hence, all the more inspirational.

In an all, this book goes on to show how Dr Kalam himself has been the Indomitable Spirit (a song by him under the Tunes And Verses of Immortality section of the book), which he always preached to the youth to be too:

I was swimming in the sea,
Waves came one after the other
I was swimming and swimming to reach my destination.
But one wave, a powerful wave, overpowered me;
It took me along in its own direction,
I was pulled long and along.
When I was about to lose amidst the sea wave power,
One thought flashed to me, yes, that is courage
Courage to reach my goal, courage to defeat the powerful force and succeed;
With courage in my mind, indomitable spirit engulfed me,
With indomitable spirit in mind and action,
I regained lost confidence
I can win, win and win
Strength came back to me, overpowered the sea wave
I reached the destination, my mission.

Other details of the book :-

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Title: Pupil’s President Kalam
Editor: Satyam Roychowdhury
PublisherBee Books (Twitter: @bee_books)
Pages: 312
Genre: Non-Fiction/ Biography

Palace Walk

The Read

Palace Walk, the first installment in the Cairo trilogy, by the 1988 Nobel laureate, Naguib Mahfouz, is quite easily one of the most well-written books ever. Mahfouz, in this book, has described Cairo the way Dickens describes London, and that, is really something.

The book’s Arabic title translates literally into ‘between two palaces’ – a phrase which highlights the cultural and political transition Egypt experienced at this time and the developments brought into focus by the lives of the al-Jawad family. It begins during the World War-I in 1917 and ends in 1919, the year of the nationalist revolution. The key characters of the novel are al-Sayyid Ahmad Abd al-Jawad and his unquestioning, obedient wife, Amina. They live with their three sons- Yasin, Fahmy and Kamal, and two daughters- Khadija and Aisha. al-Sayyid Ahmad is the tyrannical head of the family who insists on extremely strict rules of Muslim piety in his house. Right when the narration begins, we get to know that his wife (who happens to be his second wife), Amina, has never left the house in a quarter of a century (25 years!). And yet, she never complains. She diligently does her work, and the religious person that she herself is, she follows her husband’s words blindingly, for she believes that is what the law of the nature is. And it is not just her, but all the family members who never dare to go against al-Sayyid Ahmad’s orders. He has invoked in his family members such a sense of fear for himself that nobody ever tries to defy him. However, one gradually finds out, that it is not just fear that the members have for the head of the family, but also great respect and awe, for al-Sayyid Ahmad is a very graceful and charming person.

With the progress of the narration, one finds how masterfully Mahfouz has sketched each and every character. His unfailing, intricate development of every character is very believable and goes on to prove that Mahfouz does have a very proper understanding of the complexity of human nature. While al-Sayyid Ahmad is a very stern, religious person for his family members, to the outside world, he’s the life of every party and permits himself officially forbidden pleasures, particularly music, drinking wine and conducting numerous extramarital affairs. Because of his insistence on his household authority, his wife and children are forbidden from questioning why he stays out late at night or comes home intoxicated. “His life was composed of a diversity of mutually contradictory elements, wavering between piety and depravity.” The focal point of the story that highlights the double standards of al-Sayyid Ahmad is when Amina, for the first time, sets foot outside the house, just to go to pray at the al-Hussein mosque. On the way back, Amina faints on the road due to the heat and is struck by a car, fracturing her collarbone; her children must fetch a doctor to come and set the bone. When al-Sayyid Ahmad discovers that she left the house without his permission, he waits until the bone has healed, and then exiles her from the house for some weeks, forcing her to live at her mother’s house. While he has stricter rules for the females of his household, his love for his daughters is not distinct from that he has for his sons. A tyranny in Amina’s methods is also brought to light when her stepson’s wife shows more liberal ways of living than she has followed. She, and also Khadija, complain about his wife’s attitudes lightly on random occasions, even though they themselves, in the heart of their hearts, would want to be relieved of many impositions.

Talking of other characters of the household, here’s a little light shed on them all. Yasin, the eldest son of al-Sayyid Ahmad from his first marriage, shares his father’s good looks and, like his father, is fond of music, alcohol and women. He dislikes his mother for her adulteries, but it’s extramarital affairs that end up bringing embarrassment to him and his father. Fahmy, Amina’s elder son who is a law student, is very intelligent and is deeply involved in the revolution against the British rule in Egypt. He has a soft spot for his neighbour, Maryam, but couldn’t do anything about it, thanks to his father’s sternness. Khadija, the elder daughter, who is very sharp-tongued and always has a keen eye for everything that goes about in the family, is always jealous of her younger sister, Aisha, who is considered very beautiful, and hence, more marriageable. However, her jealousy never overshadows her adoration for her sister. Aisha, on the other hand, is the softer, more mellow one who loves to sing and is utterly romantic. Kamal, the most lovable character of the story, is the youngest in the household. He’s a bright child who deeply loves his family members, especially his mother and his sisters. When the prospect of marriage of his sisters comes up, it deeply saddens him, for he doesn’t wish to have to part with his sisters. Despite the fact that there are numerous characters to be focused upon, Mahfouz does justice to each and every character’s development. This is the chief factor for increasing his likability.

The other reason for calling this book a very well-written one lies in the fact that the language used here is very lucid. With the progressive development of the story, absolutely no compromise has been made with the metaphors used (which are plentiful) or with the imagery. Some of the most resounding lines from the book that highlight Mahfouz’s master-abilities,

  • “The universal rejoicing was not without a mournful tear.”
  • “She knew far more about the world of the jinn than that of mankind…”
  • “The way love can disregard fears, however, is an age-old wonder. No fear is able to spoil love’s development or keep it from dreaming of its appointed hour.”
  • “He had told himself that if a person had a strong enough will he might be able to carve out more than one future, but no matter how strong will, he could never have more than one inescapable and unavoidable past.”
  • “At times, a person may create an imaginary problem to escape from an actual problem he finds difficult to resolve.”
  • “In a crisis, a person will concentrate his thoughts on saving himself. Once he is safe, his conscience will start to give him trouble.”

To me, more than a story, this book was more of a peek into the lifestyle prevalent in Cairo during the World War-I period, which I really enjoyed getting to know. All bows to Mahfouz for having written the book with as beautiful and livid a language as could be. Mahfouz makes sure that the quick, poignant end will leave you reeling for quite some while to follow after you’ve completed reading the book. 🙂

The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared

The Read

So I decided to read a light-hearted, comical book and ended up picking this one by Jonas Jonasson – The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared. The unconventional title of the book and a very catchy cover had kept this book in my to-be-read list since quite a while. It turned out to be decently fine – not way too below my expectations, but not quite meeting them either.

The entire narration revolves around our centenarian protagonist’s present and past, alternatively. The story starts with the day of the 100th birthday of Allan Karlsson (our protagonist) in an old people’s home in his country – Sweden. Our rather adventurous hero, as one finds him to be via the chapters based on his past, is bored at the old people’s home and wants to get back to what he does – having adventures (though, unknowingly; all he really wants is freedom, and more importantly, vodka). And so, his displeasure with the old people’s home makes him escape from there to somewhere he doesn’t even know of. Things tend to work out for him eventually, though, after his escape. And there begins his new adventure. He meets new people (and animals) who become a part of his adventure. It’s made more of an adventure with the involvement of mafia and police. With alternate chapters based on Allan’s past and present, Jonas Jonasson has tried to introduce to us who Allan really is, gradually. Allan turns out to be an enthusiast of explosives (who had once burnt down his own house) and also an absolute abhorrent of politics and religious ideologies. Ironically enough, in the past, he has been shown to be involved with some of the most influential political personalities of the respective times. Francisco Franco, Harry Truman, Mao Tse-tung, Stalin – he has met them all and has helped them change the course of history. As much real the author has tried to make the entire setting look here, it has still come off as quite farcical at a lot of points (both in the past section as well as the present section).

Talking of the type of character Karlsson is, he’s shown to be the kind that minds his own business and is comical is his own way, which makes him quite lovable. For instance, when Allan met a black man for the first time, what he had to say was – “it turned out that there was no difference other than the colour of their skin, except of course that they spoke weird languages, but the whites did that too.” His nonchalance about anything controversial is one of the nicest things about him. That, to an extent, influences his outlook on many other matters and also preaches to not be stressed about unimportant issues. One never finds Allan stressing a lot over how he’ll manage his way out of some trouble; he just gets out of it. However, as much fun it is initially, exploring who Allan is, it gets tiring after a point and for that, it’s the lengthy descriptions that are to be blamed. The narration is way too intricate at a lot of points, where it’s not even required. I, for one, lost my interest midway through the book and couldn’t complete it in one continuous pick.

Had it not been for my being compulsive about finishing the book that I start, I don’t think I’d have been able to complete this book. The narration started off just fine, but didn’t quite maintain the fluidity. The comical tone of the book is not as comical as one expects, but sharp enough at a good, few points. All in all, this is not a book that I’ll highly recommend, but if you want to read something light once in a while, and not necessarily in one go, this book is a decent pick.

The Eat

The food mentioned in this book is quite the mainstream one. While our protagonist has been almost all around the world, there are only a handful of dishes mentioned here that one might have not heard of.

There’s roast elk, porridge, hot-dog, syrupy bread with salami, beef – all of which is available in Sweden.

In Spain, Allan Karlsson has tacos, enchiladas, corn tortillas, salsa along with tequila.

In North Korea, Karlsson is served a chili and garlic-flavoured pork dish with rice for dinner, and steamed vegetables and dried fruit for breakfast.

It’s in Russia where some of the dishes indigenous of that place are had by Karlsson.

Two popular types of dumplings of Russia are Pelmeni and Pierogi. Pelmeni is prepared with flour-dough, water, and sometimes eggs with minced meat, fish or mushrooms for the filling. Pierogi, on the other hand, is usually served as a dessert or an appetizer with  mashed potatoes, fried onions, cabbage, sauerkraut, meat, mushrooms, spinach or cheese for the filling.

There’s also the popular sour, beetroot soup, Borscht, of Ukraine. It has a vast number of variations. There are a lot of non-beetroot variations, which instead involve rye, cabbages, sorrel etc. It typically combines the sautéed vegetables with meat or bone stock.

Blini is another popular Russian dish that is mentioned. Blini is typically a type of pancake made from buckwheat flour. Its variations involve different additions to it – grapes, apples, raisins usually.

Overall, the book has the mention of a lot of food, all of which tickles the reader’s appetite pretty well! 😀

The Stranger 

The Read

Often regarded as the master of philosophical fiction, Albert Camus is that one author who’ll speak everything you’ve experienced, at least, at some point in your life, and still manage to get it categorised as absurdist philosophy. Thinking of it, those range of sentiments you go through when you deal with the emotions depicted in the book, you begin to question the limit of morality – if there even exists one in the first place, that is- and at the same time, you understand that those are the emotions which aren’t highly thought of in a society like ours. We place bigger emphasis on trivial matters and lesser on those which are of grave importance. Having given the emotional up among all the living creatures, we humans have developed a very twisted way of thinking with time and we’ve set it as a parameter of judgement where it isn’t even needed. “He didnt understand me, and he was sort of holding it against me.” And this, is the core of what the book speaks about.

The narration flows very smoothly. It keeps the reader gripped for its very easy narration (the translation by Matthew Ward is my source of claim) as well as for his curiosity at what the author would throw at him next. The protagonist, Meursault, is a very detached personality and his thought process is centred on only physical elements. He’s free from all emotional sadness- be it the death of his mother or the ill treatment inflicted by his friend on his ‘mistress’, Meursault is indifferent to it all. It bothers the reader at first. But after a point, we get acclimatised to the way our protagonist is and accept him for all his idiosyncrasies. As his mother had also told him, “after a while, you could get used to anything.”

“When I was first imprisoned, the hardest thing was that my thoughts were still those of a free man.”  This is where rests most of the second part of the book. Meursault is imprisoned for having committed a murder, to which he admits as well, and waits for his sentence, which he hopes to get less severe for the fact that he admitted to it. But the coming of the verdict of his case keeps getting extended for the fact that he’s an unemotional person and funnily, it’s held against him worse than the fact that he committed a murder. “But I couldn’t quite understand how an ordinary man’s good qualities could become crushing accusations against a guilty man.” It is, in a way, a satire on the society and it’s ways. What’s the most characteristic thing about this book, in my opinion, is the constancy of Meursault. He is an atheist and remains so till the very end, despite the many attempts by numerous people as well as difficult circumstances. What causes changes in his theories, though, is his own changing perception regarding the different facets of his life. He has hope through all the drastic happenings, despite being the unemotional one, and when that hope fails him, momentarily dishevelled, he accepts life the way it is, comes to terms with it, and carries on with what suits the situation best.

This is not a book that can be reviewed (it’s been difficult for me, here 😅) or evaluated or even recommended. This is one of those books which you just pick up, read through in one (or two) go and right after it ends, you just try to fathom what happened and more importantly, what made it happen. To sum it all up, this 123-page novel knows how to make you think if you give it the power to. 🙂

The Eat 

The food mentioned in this book isn’t something we aren’t familiar with. Scrambled eggs, combos of sausage and wine, bread, fish, meat and fried potatoes for a sumptuous meal, all of it often accompanied with some coffee– it’s what most of us have had at some point or the other. Though these are the mainstream dishes/food items, they’re written of in a way to definitely make you walk to the kitchen, at least once, while reading this book.

However, I find it of essence to mention that these dishes are only mentioned in the first part of the book- the one where all the crucial developments happen. The second deals with the outcomes of those developments and is more focussed on the philosophical side, and thereby, there’s no mention of any dishes.

In an all, what I can say about this Nobel laureate is that Camus knows how and when to whet your appetite, be it for food, or for some deep thinking.

The Good Earth

The Read

The Nobel laureate Pearl S. Buck’s Pulitzer Prize (1932) winning novel and the influential factor in gaining her the Nobel Prize for Literature (1938), The Good Earth, is that book which an avid reader has to read quintessentially.

Set in the period of war and conflict in China (The Xinhai Revolution, to be precise), this book gives you a peek into a lifestyle that was; the one people have revolted against for ages to be eradicated. The story starts with an introduction of  our protagonist, Wang Lung, who is going to seek the hand of O-lan, a diligent slave in the wealthy family of the village, for marriage. Wang Lung is a rather poor farmer, but his devotion to his land is unmatched and there lies the central theme of the story which is also highlighted by the title of the book. “There was(/is) always the land.”

After their marriage, Wang Lung’s life becomes easier, thanks to his ever-helping wife. She not just manages his home and takes care of his elderly father, but also lends him a helping hand on his farm. She goes on to show her usefulness without expecting anything in return. Through all their adversities, she stands by him and his family like a pillar, and in all the successes of Wang Lung, she had a major role to play. Yet her contribution goes unrecognized until it’s very late.

The family suffers through a severe famine and moves to the city, but Wang Lung’s love for his land brings him back to it. The one thing that is visible throughout the story is how Wang Lung never gave up on his land, no matter what. Even through his harsh days, the land kept him going. “Then the land did again its healing work and the sun shone on him and healed him and the warm winds of summer wrapped him about with peace.” 

Pearl S. Buck manages to give us a taste of many different elements of culture and life, in general, via this one book. Racial prejudice, capitalistic ideals, religious fundamentalism, gender oppression, sexual repression, concubinage, and discrimination against the disabled are the supporting themes of the book. There’s also a mention of the Chinese custom of Foot Binding (“the “lotus feet”) for women, which, back in the day, showed the status of a family.

The expressions used by the author are, I believe, the “deal sealer” in making this book a one-of-a-kind one. While the simplicity of the narration is where the beauty of the book lies, Buck doesn’t compromise on the minute details which she brings to light with the use of very convenient imagery. For instance,

“And as they thought day after day on all those matters and talked of them in twilight, and above all as day after day their labour brought in no allied wage, there arose in the hearts of the young and the strong a tide as irresistible as the tide of the river, swollen with winter snows- the tide of the fullness of savage desire.”

While this is not the kind of book which will draw you in immediately, it certainly is the one which won’t bore you at any point either. You won’t be instantly drawn to it, but you shall be eventually. While I couldn’t get enough quote-worthy lines from the book, I did enjoy reading this book for the simple ways in which it made me think. The last line of the book especially propped up a question for me on which I’m debating with myself till date. 🙂

The Eat

While there’s a mention of a number of dishes in the book, the two that have underlining importance are the cakes O-lan prepares for the Hwang family and the boiled rice, which is a staple in most Asian countries. All the dishes that are talked about in the book are the ones most kitchens around the world are familiar with.

The importance of the cakes and rice lies in the fact that it goes on to speak of the different times the family of Wang Lung has seen. Through their tough times, they could manage to get only a bowl of boiled rice per person a day, which was enough for them after the famine they suffered through. The famine saw them exhausted of all their resources (since the protagonist is a farmer, his stocks of his farm’s rice and corn are his main resources).

The cakes O-lan prepares for the Hwang family, on the other hand, are the ones the kids of O-lan aren’t even allowed to touch during their poverty-stricken days. However, it is only a matter of time that they become the most influential family of the village replacing the Hwang family and such delicacies become commonplace preparations at their home.

Hence, it’d be safe to say that the food mentioned in the book has more of a symbolic significance than a taste bud-appealing one.

Do give it a read if you’re looking for a light read! 😀

The Kite Runner

The Read

I’ve been indecisive for quite some time as to which book should I talk about for my first blog post. The one book I eventually decided upon was one of my recent reads – Khaled Hosseini’s debut novel, The Kite Runner.

Hosseini has the skill of striking a chord by not just hitting close to home, but also by bringing in light some very gruesome happenings from around the world (Afghanistan, so far), of which, not many of us know well enough. Rare are such authors who can deal with universal themes as well as local issues, both at the same time, and treat both of them with justice. In The Kite Runner, Hosseini has covered the dynamics of the mainstream, filmy friendship between a rich brat, Amir, and his servant, Hassan, with whom he has grown up and who regards him no less than his best friend. The friendship deals with its set of twists and turns which leads to the main themes of the story of betrayal, guilt and redemption. There’s also the complex relationship between Amir and his single parent, his father, which deals with its own fair share of ups and downs. As much as one can predict where the story is headed at a lot of times, the author manages to catch you off-guard at a fair number of points. This is where you realize that the central themes are not contributed to by just the one character as you had guessed.

The story is narrated by Amir and the narration starts while he’s in San Francisco. He has just gotten off a call from his father’s close friend, Rahim Khan, and it takes him back to his past that has always haunted him and rendered him helpless due to the guilt he has always lived with.  “…it’s wrong what they say about the past, I’ve learned, about how you can bury it. Because the past always claws its way out.” For ease of discussing, the whole story can be divided into four parts: Committal of fault, Escape from it, Certain realizations and Amendments. It’s the Realizations section that catches one off-guard and the Amendments sections that hits the reader with utter poignancy, thanks to the trip to the brutal, Taliban-ruled Afghanistan (via Pakistan).

Talking of the characters, as much as I wanted to hate Amir for his immunity to the many wrongs that were done, and Hassan for his absolute selfless devotion despite the brutal disservice inflicted upon him, I couldn’t do so. And for this, I’d credit Hosseini’s master story-telling abilities that exude with poignancy. Hosseini has an exuberant way with words, with all the metaphors and imagery put in as suitably as you please. Some lines from the book to elucidate the same:

  • “But despite his illiteracy, or maybe because of it, Hassan was drawn to the mystery of words, seduced by a secret world forbidden to him.”
  • “Perspective was a luxury when your head was constantly buzzing with a swarm of demons.”
  • “There are a lot of children in Afghanistan, but little childhood.”

And some more lines that manage to etch in the reader’s mind with a strong impact:

  • “And that’s the thing about people who mean everything they say. They think everyone else does too.”
  • “It always hurts more to have and lose than to not have in the first place.”
  • “What happens in a few days, sometimes even a single day, can change the course of a whole lifetime.”
  • “I wondered if that was how forgiveness budded; not with the fanfare of epiphany, but with pain gathering its things, packing up and slipping away unannounced in the middle of the night.”

And the two lines that managed to give me goosebumps:

  • “It was only a smile, nothing more. It didn’t make everything alright. It didn’t make anything alright. Only a smile. A tiny thing. A leaf in the woods, shaking in the wake of a startled bird’s flight.
    But I’ll take it. With open arms. Because when spring comes, it melts the snow one flake at a time and maybe I just witnessed the first flake melting.”
  • “For you, a thousand times over.”

In an all, what can be summed up about the author is that Hosseini knows how to break your heart bit by bit, eloquently, in a way that will only leave you wanting more of what he has in store to tell. And this debut novel of his essentially stands testimony to the same.

The Eat

Many of the dishes mentioned here are favourites in the Southern Asian countries.

Kofta, pickle and naana favourite combination with our protagonist(s) are some very famous preparations in the South-Asian and Central-Asian countries. Kofta, originally a meatball dish, is prepared in Balkan countries using pork, beef or/and lamb. It also has many vegetarian variants, especially in India, where it is prepared using potato, bottle gourd, cottage cheese and also, banana at times.

Bolani is yet another popular dish, indigenous of Afghanistan, which is considered a type of flatbread, stuffed with vegetables mostly and served with plain yogurt.

There’s also mention of Ferni which is a rice pudding dessert prepared in varying ways in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.

The book could certainly not have missed the mention of the most famous Afghani dish of Qabuliwhich is also treated as the national dish of Afghanistan. This dish is not to be confused with the Kabuli chana of India which happens to be chickpea.

There’s also Rowt (alt spelling: Roat) – a sweet dish prepared with bread, sabzi challow–  white rice with lamb and spinach, and of course the Kolcha which are also called the Afghani cookies.

Summing up the Eats aspect to the book, the mere mention of all these yum, Afghani dishes gets one hungry and it helped me, for one, to discover a lot of dishes that I look forward to trying and probably also including in some of my Elvish parties. Pretty sure my fellow Hobbits shall enjoy them. 🙂

Tashakor (Farsi for thank you) for reading through this post, dear human! 😀 More, soon!