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Alive and Well in Pakistan: A Human Journey in a Dangerous Time [Secure eReader]
eBook by Ethan Casey

eBook Category: Travel/Travel
eBook Description: How wide is the gulf in understanding between the West and the Muslim world? How real is the risk of nuclear war on the subcontinent? What will be the long term effects of the Afghan Wars? How widespread--and how justified--is resentment towards the US and the West? Ethan Casey examines these compelling questions while living, working and teaching in Lahore, Pakistan--a Muslim country on the frontline of the US-declared 'war on terror'.

eBook Publisher: Vision Paperbacks/Vision Paperbacks
Fictionwise Release Date: October 2006




I had travelled a long road from Wisconsin to Pakistan. I grew up in the 1970s outside Milwaukee, in a town that was becoming a suburb, typical enough, idyllic yet stifling and self-satisfied, a medium-sized town outside a medium-sized, declining industrial city, in a medium-sized state in the middle of North America. I felt at home there but my parents, who were from Texas, made clear by their body language and tone of voice that we didn't belong there. Where, then, did I belong? My father took me with him to Haiti in 1982,when I was sixteen, and transformed my awareness of the world and my place in it. To have seen Haiti is to know how artificial and stylised life is in suburban America, like a sitcom in endless reruns. Once I had pierced the membrane and escaped, there was no going back. In 1986 I whimsically decided to spend an academic year in Nepal, on a University of Wisconsin programme. It was a time of innocence. I explored the Kathmandu Valley and trekked to the base of Everest. I felt very far from home. I communicated with my family in the US via handwritten aerogrammes that took two weeks or more to arrive. Once, when I needed to reach my parents quickly, I went to the General Post Office and sent a telegram, for which I paid by the word. America was just where I wanted it: as far away as possible from me. The books in the many bookshops in Kathmandu?s tourist section were of exotic interest to me; most were in British editions I had never seen before. In America one didn't see V.S. Naipaul in Penguins, for instance. In any case I had never heard of Naipaul, so my obsession with him declared itself innocently. I bought and read An Area of Darkness, his first book on India, in an early Penguin edition with a soft-focus drawing of a shikara,a lake boat, on the Dal Lake on the cover. Next I read India: A Wounded Civilization, then The Middle Passage and Among the Believers, the collection The Overcrowded Barracoon, Finding the Centre and several novels. Soon I was reading no longer for the subject matter but for the author. I was sensing that, whatever he wrote about, this Naipaul guy wrote close to the bone. It was this callow obsession with Naipaul that led me eventually to Pakistan, via Kashmir. Bored after only ten months editing wire stories in the Bangkok Post ?s air-conditioned building, I quit the paper early in 1994 and went to India. In particular I went to Kashmir, because Naipaul had written vividly about it. My first day in Delhi, a Sikh cycle-rickshaw driver told me I'd better check in with a ?government tourist office?, at which he would be happy to stop en route to the hotel I had named. It turned out, after the young Kashmiri at the ?tourist office? made a phone call, that the hotel I had in mind was full. But there was this other place, just 300 rupees a night. As these things sometimes turn out, the Kashmiri and I quickly became good friends.


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