ATISH TASEER STRANGER TO HISTORY PDF

JoJotilar Jan 10, Ryan Murdock rated it liked it. Nagging behind this cultural abundance, however, was an absence: Insightful, especially to a person who has very little knowledge of Islam. Dec 10, Akshat Upadhyay rated it it was amazing. That week of passion was to be all it was, despite subsequent attempts at hushing up the pregnancy, then pretending a marriage until finally a clean break was made when the boy was about 18 months old.

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Once I did, it didnt take a lot to realise how travel accounts could tell stories much bigger than just about the particular journeys themselves. From William Dalrymples study of Delhi, City of Djinns, to Samanth Subramanians portrait of Sri Lanka after the war, This Divided Island, travel narratives have kept surprising me with the way they keep illuminating the larger through the mundane.

And Im convinced that there is no other genre of I discovered travel writing when I was well into my 20s. One of the travel quotes that keeps making its way across Facebook timelines talks about how though a traveler may be making the journey, the journey might be making him.

The peculiar circumstances that gave birth to Taseer is the starting point of the book, but that is not its heart. Though Taseer writes repeatedly that he wants to understand the young Muslim psyche, and indeed tries and partly succeeds in doing so, the book is not entirely about that either. Aatish Taseer is Indian, his father is Pakistani, and his maternal family are partition refugees. And when I refer to Taseer as Indian, it is not a light remark. It is Indian. I know this because I am one.

I understand that feeling as well. I understand that feeling because like Taseer, I care. But the writer has much more reason to, of course, and though his story starts as an attempt to understand Islam in this time and age, it is in Pakistan that it finds its soul. The division is well thought out: the first part deals with the countries voluntarily regressing to a radical, angry, violent Islam, driven by a restless young population in search of meaning.

In the second part, in Iran, the writer encounters a kind-of secular rebellion complete with Hare Krishnas, God help us against a state that seeks to impose its own version of Islam on the people. And then comes Pakistan.

In all of these places, the writer meets troubled, damaged, fascinating young Muslims, each of them dealing with the challenges of their faith and its complexities in their own way. The writing is incisive, the observations sharp. It gets better. In Arabia, he ventures into the history of Islam, and how it got to where it is today.

In Iran, where the nation-state imposes a literal Islam, he sees a people at odds with the history being fed to them. In Pakistan, he sees the great, inclusive culture of the northern subcontinent being strangled, being made into something so hollow and regressive that his despair becomes almost tangible: you can feel it strongly. And in all of these places, Taseer encounters the religion that gives him his Urdu name, and meets its different faces and interpretations, including most importantly, political Islam - the idea that temporal and religious power should be one, the idea that is at the root of ISIS, an idea completely at odds with the world of today.

This is also what the book is about: what is Islam to its youth? What does being Muslim mean? But like it is in the north, India is a land of so many cultural, communal, and religious differences that being Muslim was, to me growing up, just another mode of being, just another difference in a country-ful of them. I know the Muslim festivals, I know the cultural associations, I know the story of Ali, in the same way that my best friend from college, a Muslim, knew all of the corresponding Hindu points of interest.

But, and this is an important but, the south has its own shared history and landscape. For example, in Karaikal, where I went to college, the annual Kandoori festival, a remembrance of a Sufi saint, is celebrated by Hindus and Muslims alike - this in a temple town revered for its closeness to Thirunallar, an important Shiva temple in the Hindu pantheon.

The Nagore dargah is another, a short motorcycle ride away from Karaikal, where we would ride to, and pray whenever we could. But why are these details important? Am I showing off, in the way liberals are accused of showing off their association with the other faith?

I point this out because it was natural to be part of these things. It was natural to attend these festivals, go to the dargah together. And the loss of exactly this is what makes Pakistan what it is today. Not only that, but in Sind too, where once great variety had been absorbed, bitter division was to be found in what was now relative homogeneity. And Sind, for centuries so diverse, its culture and worship formed from that diversity, was for the first time in its history no longer a place of confluence.

This was a nation, like mine, that was founded on high ideals. It was from the sophisticated read liberal, secular Muslims of the time that the case for the country was made. And yet among these genteel people an idea was expressed whose full ugliness, and violence, only became clear in the cruder, more basic articulations that followed.

It can also be a glimpse into what Pakistan has become, but like me, it can leave you with a profound sense of sadness and despair. Because what is Pakistan except a part of us, undivided India, that was separated and distorted into something it did not really want to be? They are our people, in more ways than we can ever imagine, and if this can happen to them and this nation they forged for peace, how easy it would be for us to fall into this trap?

This, then may be what Taseer is saying to us: if you lose your history, you may lose everything.

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ATISH TASEER STRANGER TO HISTORY PDF

Once I did, it didnt take a lot to realise how travel accounts could tell stories much bigger than just about the particular journeys themselves. From William Dalrymples study of Delhi, City of Djinns, to Samanth Subramanians portrait of Sri Lanka after the war, This Divided Island, travel narratives have kept surprising me with the way they keep illuminating the larger through the mundane. And Im convinced that there is no other genre of I discovered travel writing when I was well into my 20s. One of the travel quotes that keeps making its way across Facebook timelines talks about how though a traveler may be making the journey, the journey might be making him. The peculiar circumstances that gave birth to Taseer is the starting point of the book, but that is not its heart. Though Taseer writes repeatedly that he wants to understand the young Muslim psyche, and indeed tries and partly succeeds in doing so, the book is not entirely about that either. Aatish Taseer is Indian, his father is Pakistani, and his maternal family are partition refugees.

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