Monday, August 06, 2007


Most bizarre dream ever. Mostly a blur of images now.

I am talking to Rashid Khalidi about amongst other things khoresht fesenjan and the general idiocy of Thomas L. Friedman.
I am telling Tom Cruise that long time back I really did like him. And then he went psycho and now I think he is probably an alien spawn. But also that Suri is the cutest kid ever.
I am also telling Ian McKellen "Sir, I really do love you and in my book you were always the first choice to play Dumbledore in the Harry Potter movies – way before I saw you as Gandalf in Lord of the Rings."
Watching Ataturk make a speech where he goes on and on about how a civilized people don’t wear certain kinds of dresses and most certainly not the fez. Instead they should wear what he has on his head. "This is a hat."

I clearly need help.
I usually don’t remember my dreams. And obviously there’s a good reason for that. This might have been brought on by the most bizarre and brilliant movie, Paprika, that I watched yesterday. (Watch it if and when you get the chance – seriously).

But I did detect a pattern. Clearly my mind is an empty den and I have way too much time on my hands and so, ya I do read ONTD (thus Tom Cruise makes appearances in my dreams). So? So?
Oh and the Ian McKellen thing – I met him a while back. Hee. He is bloody brilliant and I didn’t tell him I loved him but did manage to sputter out that I loved his work and I didn’t make an ass of myself, which counts for a lot.

The rest all makes sense because I am mid way through Khalidi’s very good Resurrecting Empire: Western Footprints and America's Perilous Path in the Middle East. (Also read his The Iron Cage: The Story of the Palestinian Struggle for Statehood. I have read some of his articles before usually for school work but never his books and am now on the verge of having a major geek crush on him.) I also wanted something light to read so picked up Pomegranate Soup yesterday and finished it in the duration of two train rides. Am still making my way through Turkey: A Modern History, which explains Ataturk’s appearance. Don’t know about Friedman though. I thankfully haven’t read much of him since Times Select started.

On a more serious note, I do recommend that everyone read Resurrecting Empire. It was written in 2004 but in some sense reading it now makes it even more powerful and the consequences that Khalidi laid out even more scary. Not that anyone listened. Khalidi is also a good counterpoint to Bernard Lewis who always (whenever I have read him at least) has a narrative that is too simplistic for even me, with my limited knowledge of the region, to buy (I pretty much decided I wouldn’t read any more books by Lewis when I finished the last one by him I had borrowed). Was discussing the book with TAP earlier today and he told me of his attendance at a talk by Khalidi which made me curse him. Khalidi is a very eloquent and forceful speaker. See here where he defends academic freedom and freedom of speech in the aftermath of the whole Columbia Middle Eastern studies brouhaha. Oh well. As of now I have a whole list of books that I am now ticking off and plan to read in the future. Fiction will probably take a backseat and I might put up bits here - if I’m not too lazy that is.

Another thing. I was recently told by someone (much older than me) to read The Haj to understand the Arab psyche. I had no idea how to respond. (In my defence I was just told the name of the book and it took me a bit to realise that it was the book by Leon Uris. I had picked it up in my school library when I was in class ten or eleven in school and put it back after reading some 30 pages. Need I say more?) But yes, how do you respond when people come up with such ridiculously inane and downright offensive statements? People who are usually sane? And how do you even begin a conversation where what you really want to say is "Well, I really don’t think you know what you are talking about?" Help!


That Armchair Philosopher said...

Hahaha, that dream has all the overtones of a certain conversation yesterday.. although i do want to try khoresht fesenjan next opportunity I get! (/end inane comment ;P)

I *loved* the Matt Taibbi article :))) It very accurately reflects the feelings I had when I dumped Friedman after the 100th or so page.. really. I'm so glad someone else agrees. Holy crap, that guy is FUNNY! Did you know he was a professional athlete somewhere in Russia, and a correspondent in Mongolia?

You read ONTD? *ugh*. As for the book recommendation - yeah, I know how you feel. I've been in that situation a couple of times, when someone very offhandedly refers you to a source you KNOW is crap! (But really, my opinion of Uris isn't too great either - after having read Mila 18 - a common fixture in the senior library in the late 90s :)..

But you do need help - that much's rather obvious :) Atleast you weren't talking to dead people, on the brighter side..

Alok said...

lol at the dream. mine are nowhere that interesting...

it is good, it means things you read are really getting inside your bloodstream (or may be its not that good?)

Szerelem said...

TAP - I love the Taibbi article. It’s hilarious and true.
Btw, Mila 18 (which umm I have read) has nothing on the The Haj.

Alok – hmmm not so sure about whether they are really getting my bloodstream or even if that’s a good thing! (I wish stuff I had to learn for exams went into my blood stream as easily!)

tabula rasa said...

you half smile, raise an eyebrow and say, "oh really? i'd not heard *that* perspective before. hm. interesting." and then you walk away.

chandni said...

he he...some dream that :D

have been eyeing paprika but haven't had a chance to watch aarrrrrgh

Szerelem said...

TR: have not tried that. Definitely will.

Chandni: watch it!!! it is really very good!