I am reading two travel books currently,of such opposite manners and methods that I might be using them as the definition of the term 'exact opposite' in days to come.Anyone who reads them both may also be inclined to do so,but I leave it on them.
I've just finished the first chapter of 'Among The Believers' by Naipaul.It's a book on his journey through the Islamic nations of Iran,Pakistan,Malasiya and Indonesia to learn more about the most discussed and probably most mis-interpreted faith of our times.One paragraph made me feel how little I myself know of this religion,which he wrote to explain his motivation for the journey-
"What I knew about Islam was what was known to everyone on the outside.They had a Prophet and a Book;they believed in one God and disliked images;they had an idea of heaven and hell-always a difficult idea for me.They had their own martyrs.Once a year mimic mausolea were wheeled through the streets;men 'danced' with heavy crescebt moons,swinging the moons now one way,now the other drums beat and sometimes there were ritual stick fights.
The stick fights were a mimicry of an old battle,but the procession was one of mourning,commemorating defeat in that battle.Where had the battle taken place?What was the cause? As a child I never asked......"
So I read on.Probably wil save me a similar trip.
One thing that becomes apparent in the first chapter itself is the authoritative voice that Naipaul takes.He judges people and sticks to his judgement.I'm not sure I like that,but I guess authors of his stature can take that liberty.
Always wondered what the history of Iran and other nations was like,this book would help.
The other book I'm reading,rather close to finishing it is 'Neither here Nor there' by Bill Bryson.I borrowed this book from Krishna to read it in the train journey back home but it was so engrossingly funny that I decided to save it for later,just like I did with my Seinfeld episodes.So I dodn't read more than one chapter a day-and that keeps me happy.
The book is about the weird travelogue of the author,as he journeys through Europe.The observational humor and seeing everything with a critical eye and then writing it in a manner so funny-'Hugely funny (not snigger-snigger funny,but great-big-belly-laugh-till-you-cry-funny) are so fascinating and inspiring.Seems like I found a literary substitute for Seinfeld.The back of the book elaborates-
"Whether braving the homicidal motorists of Paris,being robbed by Gypsies in Florence,attempting not to order tripe and eyeballs in a German restaurant,window shopping in the sex shops of the Reeperbahn or disputing his hotel bill in Copenhagen,Bryson takes in the sights,dissects the cultureand illuminates each place and person with his hilariously caustic observations.He even goes to Leichenstein"
I guess it's time to have a laugh and sleep.Or to ponder and sleep?