Its been a while since I have read a book this fast. My brother was so worried that the reading habit of mine is dying. He made it a point to buy me enough books to interest me and pull me into reading again. And boy! did he success? yes I would say. In the bunch of books I chose to read “In an Antique Land” by Amitav Ghosh. I don’t know why I picked the book. Partly because of it was written in 1992, 19 years back.
Old books just like old movies always interest you. And having a fresh book in your hand and the fragrance you get while turning the pages was simply awesome. I was seduced, and I finished this books in one sitting.. err.. almost. The story place was very new to me. I have not read anything about Egypt except for the pyramids and the mummies. And the author did not care to spend much time in Cairo but stayed in Lataifa and Nashawi.
Perhaps this is the most late review of the book, but what interested me was the similarities between India and Egypt. Especially the villages and their people. There was no big differences in mindset of people. There were marriages within the family, within the cousins. The way they enjoy. The way the school head masters and the teachers were respected at those times. The aspirations of young fellaheen like Nabeel to get into a government job, just because it brought some respect for them.
The character of Imam, which starts fighting about their nation’s pride with the author in the middle of the market. I cannot really say if not for the detailed description of the author on the country side, whether it was happening in India or in Egypt. There were so much of similarities. Most striking was the learned youth of the country migrate to some other country to gain a fortune.
It was 1998, when one of my neighbor’s cousin set out to leave the country. He has not completed his school education. Education was never his cup of tea. He said he knew so many mechanical things and automobile repairs and stuff. None of us believed. My neighbor’s mother never let us talk to them because he was not learned. He set out to Gulf and he is doing good here. My neighbor mean while finished his engineering and was not able to secure a job here. Now my neighbor’s mom is pleading their cousin to take my neighbor with him to Gulf, so that this guy could see some money. This is something I witnessed with my very own eye and I am not able to put it in words, the feeling I got when I was reading a passage in the book.
It was not path breaking, but it was informative and definitely a page turner. The other plot about Ben Yiju and his slave Bomma gave insights about how Mangalore and Calicut thrived in those bygone era of flourishing trade in India. It was amazing to know that there were caste differences at that time but how the fishermen were able to get them out of the shackles and trade with foreigners and developed themselves financially.
Now I can say, I know much more about Egypt than Cairo and Pyramids and if you ask where you would be visiting when you are in Egypt, It would be lataifa for sure.
There are lot more books to be read and to be commented watch this section
Lots of Love