Moshin Hamid The Reluctant FundamentalistPENGUIN BOOKSTHE RELUCTANT FUNDAMENTALIST'A fantastic piece of work, supe. understand the workings of 'the Islamic fundamentalist mind.' Nothing seems novel, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, offers up just the sort of short cut that an. PDF | In the postcolonial and the capitalist phase, the phenomenon of The Reluctant Fundamentalist () by the Pakistani novelist, Mohsin.

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Editorial Reviews. Review. Mohsin Hamid's first novel, Moth Smoke , dealt with the The Reluctant Fundamentalist - site edition by Mohsin Hamid . Download it once and read it on your site device, PC, phones or tablets. This course will introduce students to the heritage of British literature as well as pieces from a variety of cultures and genres. The coursework is. Hamid, comes the explosive new film, The Reluctant Fundamentalist. New York, Lahore and Istanbul, The Reluctant Fundamentalist is an exploration of bias.

But he feels self- contempt when he realizes that he is not in fact a genuine member of the entities, like Pakistan, to which he professes attachment pp. And then I smiled. Yes, despicable as it may sound, my initial reaction was to be remarkably pleased… I was caught up in the symbolism of it all, the fact that someone had so visibly brought America to her knees.

Vietnam, Korea, the straits of Taiwan, the Middle East, and now Afghanistan: in each of the major conflicts that ringed my mother continent of Asia, America played a central role.

For Changez, the troubles in Vietnam, Korea, the Taiwan Strait, the Middle East, and Afghanistan all began with American involvement there; nothing pre-existed that involvement and no other historical fact is relevant.

There was, in other words, no communist insurgency in Vietnam, no communist invasion of South Korea, no Chinese aggression against Taiwan, no Soviet instigation of the Arab-Israeli war, and no Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. In this universe, American action takes place in a vacuum that effaces all other agents. It also allows him to forget that it was al-Qaeda that declared war against the U.

Readers will perhaps remember the India-Pakistan hostilities of late and , initiated by an Islamist terrorist attack in December on the Indian parliament the Lok Sabha. While refusing even to stop and think about the possibility of Pakistani complicity in the Lok Sabha attack p.

Yet your country was signally failing to do this; indeed, America was maintaining a strict neutrality between the two potential combatants, a position that favored, of course, the larger and — at that moment in history — the more belligerent of them. Pakistani actions simply drop out of his narrative as though they had never happened. In my bed she asked me to put my arms around her, and I did so, speaking quietly in her ear. I knew she enjoyed my stories of Pakistan, so I rambled about my family and Lahore.

When I tried to kiss her, she did not move her lips or shut her eyes. And slowly, in darkness and in silence, we did. For the romance that Changez has with Erica is at once puzzling and vacuous: nothing much happens in it, and the reader gets no sense of what Changez sees in Erica or vice versa. But the trouble with Changez is precisely his consistent refusal throughout the novel to be an autonomous agent.

What autonomy he had is, like so much of his life, merely a pretence. Hamid has insisted in interviews that superficial similarities aside , [5] Changez is not an autobiographical character and not one with whose views he entirely sympathises.

Fair enough. Who the hell do you speak to on that side? I suppose you could say there are narratives of people who have left that world.

Well, but the ones we do read, the people who out of 63 Democratiya 9 Summer their personal history should have some Muslim sensibility, are now almost solely people who have chosen — often through the result of very unfortunate circumstances — to utterly reject that aspect of themselves. The breathtaking malice, ignorance, and self-importance of this assertion could as easily have come from the fictional character as from the real-life author.

This is inherently depicted in personal and professional relations. The story follows the life of Changez a Pakistani man living in the United States.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist

He is the embodiment of the upper class immigrants. This lead them to commit inhumane practices such as torture in order to extract information from presumed terrorists. These procedures have always been controversial for its lack of principles but nearly two thirds of the US populations have, at one point, supported the like practices if those happen to thwart a terrorist attack3.

Films like the Unthinkable, by Gregor Jordan4, criticises the validity of these reactionary measures by displaying the torture of an American born terrorist who converted to Islam and threatened to detonate 3 bombs in the U.

The theme of the film emphasises the determination of two subjects: Yusuf an American born terrorist and H an American officer. Like in the book, the Unthinkable presents an encounter between two different cultures5. The initial dialogue in The Reluctant Fundamentalist, is also a talk between two cultures, an encounter where West meets East.

I see you approve. Yes, they are delicious. It is curious how a cup of tea can be refreshing even on a warm day such as this—a mystery, really—but there you have it.

I was telling you about my interview with Underwood Samson, and how Jim had found me to be, as he put it, hungry. You can ask me anything you need to know—think Twenty Questions—and you can do your calculations with that pencil and paper. The company is simple. It has only one service line: instantaneous travel. You step into its terminal in New York, and you immediately reappear in its terminal in London. Like a transporter on Star Trek.

Get it? How does one value a fictitious, fantastic company such as the one he had just described? Where does one even begin? I had no idea. I looked at Jim, but he did not seem to be joking.

So I inhaled and shut my eyes. There was a mental state I used to attain when I was playing soccer: my self would disappear, and I would be free, free of doubts and limits, free to focus on nothing but the game.

When I entered this state I felt unstoppable. Sufi mystics and Zen masters would, I suspect, understand the feeling. Possibly, ancient warriors did something similar before they went into battle, ritualistically accepting their impending death so they could function unencumbered by fear. I entered this state in the interview. My essence was focused on finding my way through the case. I started by asking questions to understand the technology: how scalable it was, how reliable, how safe.

Then I asked Jim about the environment: if there were any direct competitors, what the regulators might do, if any suppliers were particularly critical. Then I went into the cost side to figure out what expenses we would have to cover.

And last I looked at revenues, using the Concorde for comparison, as an example of the price premium and demand one gets for cutting travel time in half, and then estimating how much more one would get for cutting it to zero.

Once I had done all that, I projected profits out into the future and discounted them to net present value. And in the end, I arrived at a number. Jim was silent for a while. Then he shook his head. Would you be willing to step into a machine, be dematerialized, and then recomposed thousands of miles away?

This is exactly the kind of hyped-up bullshit our clients pay Underwood Samson to see through. You have what it takes. All you need is training and experience.

I asked if he was serious, if there was not a second round for me to pass.

Mohsin Hamid

His grip was firm and seemed to communicate to me, in that moment, that Underwood Samson had the potential to transform my life as surely as it had transformed his, making my concerns about money and status things of the distant past. I walked back to my dormitory—Edwards Hall, it was called—later that same afternoon.

That, in an admittedly long-winded fashion, is how I think, looking back, about Princeton. Princeton made everything possible for me. But it did not, could not, make me forget such things as how much I enjoy the tea in this, the city of my birth, steeped long enough to acquire a rich, dark color, and made creamy with fresh, full-fat milk.

It is excellent, no? I see you have finished yours. Allow me to pour you another cup. Yes, they are attractive. And how different they look from the women of that family sitting at the table beside ours, in their traditional dress.

The National College of Arts is not far—it is, as a matter of fact, only around the corner—and its students often come here for a cup of tea, just as we are doing now.

I see one in particular has caught your eye; she is indeed a beauty. Tell me, sir, have you left behind a love—male or female, I do not presume to know your preference, although the intensity of your gaze suggests the latter—in your homeland? Your shrug is inscrutable, but I will be more forthcoming. I did leave behind a love, and her name was Erica.

We met the summer after we graduated, part of a group of Princetonians who had decided to holiday together in Greece. I was friendly with one of the Ivy men, Chuck, from my days on the soccer team, and was well-liked as an exotic acquaintance by some of the others, whom I had met through him.

We assembled in Athens, having arrived on different flights, and when I first saw Erica, I could not prevent myself from offering to carry her backpack—so stunningly regal was she. Her hair was piled up like a tiara on her head, and her navel—ah, what a navel: made firm, I would later learn, by years of tae kwon do—was visible beneath a short T-shirt bearing an image of Chairman Mao.

We were introduced, she smiled as she shook my hand—whether because she found me irresistibly refined or oddly anachronistic, I did not know— and then we headed off with the group to the port city of Piraeus. It was immediately apparent that I would not have, in my wooing of Erica, the field to myself.

In fact, no sooner had we set sail on our ferry to the islands than did a young man—a tooth dangling on a string of leather in front of his bare, but meagerly muscled, chest—begin to strum his guitar and serenade her from across the deck.

Erica made no sign that she wished him to remove his arm, but I drew some consolation from the fact that throughout the dinner she listened intently when I spoke, smiling from time to time and training her green eyes upon me. Afterwards, however, on the walk to our pension, she and Mike trailed behind the rest of us, and that night I found it difficult to sleep. In the morning, I was relieved to see that she came down to breakfast before Mike— not with him—and I was also pleased that we appeared to be the first two of our group to be awake.

It makes you feel solid. But when I looked at Erica and she looked back at me, I felt we both understood that something had been exchanged between us, the first invitation to a friendship, perhaps, and so I waited patiently for an opportunity to resume our discussion. Such an opportunity would not come for quite some time—not until several days later, as a matter of fact. You might imagine I grew frustrated with the wait, but you must remember: I had never in my life had a vacation like this one.

We rented motor scooters and downloadd straw mats to spread on beaches of black volcanic sand, which the sun had made too hot for bare skin; we stayed in the rooms of quaint houses let out in the summertime by elderly couples to tourists; we ate grilled octopus and drank sparkling water and red wine.

I had not before this been to Europe or even swum in the sea—Lahore is, as you know, a ninety-minute journey by air from the coast—and so I gave in to the pleasures of being among this wealthy young fellowship.

I will admit that there were details which annoyed me. The ease with which they parted with money, for example, thinking nothing of the occasional— but not altogether infrequent—meal costing perhaps fifty dollars a head. Or their selfrighteousness in dealing with those whom they had paid for a service.

But it may be that I am inclined to exaggerate these irritants in retrospect, knowing the course my relationship with your country would later take. Besides, the rest of the group was for me mere background; in the foreground shimmered Erica, and observing her gave me enormous satisfaction. She had told me that she hated to be alone, and I came to notice that she rarely was. She attracted people to her; she had presence, an uncommon magnetism. Documenting her effect on her habitat, a naturalist would likely have compared her to a lioness: strong, sleek, and invariably surrounded by her pride.

Yet one got the sense that she existed internally at a degree of remove from those around her. Not that she was aloof; she was, in fact, friendly in disposition. But one felt that some part of her—and this, perhaps, was a not insubstantial component of her appeal—was out of reach, lost in thoughts unsaid.

Suffice it to say that in relationship to the contemporary female icons of your country, she belonged more to the camp of Paltrow than to that of Spears. But my cultural reference has fallen on deaf ears! You appear distracted, sir; those pretty girls from the National College of Arts have clearly recaptured your attention.

Or are you watching that man, the one with the beard far longer than mine, who has stopped to stand beside them? You think he will scold them for the inappropriateness of their dress— their T-shirts and jeans? I suspect not: those girls seem comfortable in this area and are likely to come here often, while he looks out of place. Moreover, among the many rules that govern the bazaars of Lahore is this: if a woman is harassed by a man, she has the right to appeal to the brotherly instincts of the mob, and the mob is known to beat men who annoy their sisters.

There, sir, you see? He has moved on. He was merely staring at something he found intriguing, much as you are, but in your case, of course, with considerably more discretion. As for myself, that summer in Greece with Erica, I tried not to stare.

But towards the end of our holiday, on the island of Rhodes, I could not help myself. You have not been to Rhodes?

You must go. It seemed to me unlike the other islands we had visited. Its cities were fortified, protected by ancient castles; they guarded against the Turks, much like the army and navy and air force of modern Greece, part of a wall against the East that still stands. How strange it was for me to think I grew up on the other side! But that is neither here nor there.

I was telling you about the moment when I was forced to stare. We were lying on the beach, and many of the European women nearby were, as usual, sunbathing topless—a practice I wholeheartedly supported, but which the women among us Princetonians, unfortunately, had thus far failed to embrace—when I noticed Erica was untying the straps of her bikini. A moment later—no, you are right: I am being dishonest; it was more than a moment—she turned her head to the side and saw me staring at her.

A number of possible alternatives presented themselves: I could suddenly avert my eyes, thereby proving not only that I had been staring but that I was uncomfortable with her nudity; I could, after a brief pause, casually move my gaze away, as though the sight of her breasts had been the most natural thing in the world; I could keep staring, honestly communicating in this way my admiration for what she had revealed; or I could, through well-timed literary allusion, draw her attention to the fact that there was a passage in Mr.

Palomar that captured perfectly my dilemma. But I did none of these things. As soon as I had done this, I wanted to disappear; I knew I sounded unbelievably foolish. We reached the water; it was warm and perfectly clear, round pebbles and the flash of little fish visible below the surface. We slipped inside, she swam out into the bay with powerful strokes, and then she trod water until I had caught up with her.

For a time we were both silent and I felt our slippery legs graze each other as we churned the sea. She smiled. Respectful polite. You give people their space. I really like that. Instead, my thoughts were engaged in a struggle to maintain a facial expression that would not appear idiotic. She turned and began to swim back to shore, keeping her head above water. None of our companions wanted to join us, there being at least another hour of taninducing sunlight remaining in the day, and so we two made our way to the road and caught a bus.

As we sat side by side, I could not help but notice that her bare leg was less than an inch from where I was resting my hand on my thigh. Do you not agree?

That bearded man—who even now, sir, continues from time to time to attract your wary gaze—is himself unable to stop glancing over his shoulder at those girls, fifty yards away from him. Yet they are exposing only the flesh of the neck, the face, and the lower three-quarters of the arm! Moreover, once sensitized in this manner, one numbs only slowly, if at all; I had by the summer of my trip to Greece spent four years in America already—and had experienced all the intimacies college students commonly experience—but still I remained acutely aware of visible female skin.

She agreed, saying that he had been quite the dandy, and rather vain even in hospital. His nurses had been charmed by him: he was a good-looking boy with what she described as an Old World appeal.

Arriving in town, we found a cafe near the harbor with tables shaded by blue-andwhite umbrellas. She ordered a beer; I did the same. I told her Pakistan was many things, from seaside to desert to farmland stretched between rivers and canals; I told her that I had driven with my parents and my brother to China on the Karakoram Highway, passing along the bottoms of valleys higher than the tops of the Alps; I told her that alcohol was illegal for Muslims to download and so I had a Christian bootlegger who delivered booze to my house in a Suzuki pickup.

She listened to me speak with a series of smiles, as though she were sipping at my descriptions and finding them to her taste. I often did miss home, but in that moment I was content to be where I was. They had grown up together—in facing apartments, children the same age with no siblings—and were best friends well before their first kiss, which happened when they were six but was not repeated until they were fifteen.

He had a collection of European comic books with which they were obsessed, and they used to spend hours at home reading them and making their own: Chris drawing, Erica writing. They were both admitted to Princeton, but he had not come because he was diagnosed with lung cancer—he had had one cigarette, she said with a smile, but only the day after he received the results of his biopsy—and she had made sure she never had classes on a Friday so she could spend three days a week in New York with him.

He died three years later, at the end of the spring semester of her junior year. Chuck made all of us laugh with a series of uncanny impersonations—my mannerisms were, in my opinion, somewhat exaggerated, but the others were spot on—and then he went around the table and asked each of us to reveal our dream for what we would most like to be.

When my turn came, I said I hoped one day to be the dictator of an Islamic republic with nuclear capability; the others appeared shocked, and I was forced to explain that I had been joking. Erica alone smiled; she seemed to understand my sense of humor. Erica said that she wanted to be a novelist. Her creative thesis had been a work of long fiction that had won an award at Princeton; she intended to revise it for submission to literary agents and would see how they responded.

Normally, Erica spoke little of herself, and tonight, when she did so, it was in a slightly lowered voice and with her eyes often on me. I felt—despite the presence of our companions, whose attention, as always, she managed to capture—that she was sharing with me an intimacy, and this feeling grew stronger when, after observing me struggle, she helped me separate the flesh from the bones of my fish without my having to ask.

Nothing physical happened between Erica and me in Greece; we did not so much as hold hands. But she gave me her number in New York, to which we were both returning, and she offered to help me settle in.

For my part, I was content: I had struck up an acquaintance with a woman with whom I was well and truly smitten, and my excitement about the adventures my new life held for me had never been more pronounced. But what is that? Ah, your mobile phone! I have not previously seen its like; it is, I suspect, one of those models capable of communicating via satellite when no ground coverage is available. Will you not answer it?

I assure you, sir, I will do my utmost to avoid eavesdropping on your conversation. But you are opting to write a text message instead; very wise: often a few words are more than sufficient. As for myself, I am quite happy to wait as you navigate the keys. After all, those girls from the National College of Arts have only just finished their tea, and the pleasure of their presence on this street will persist for a few moments longer before they disappear—as inevitably they must—from view around that corner.

Or, I should say, it has such a soothing effect on us, for you, sir, continue to appear ill at ease. I hope you will not mind my saying so, but the frequency and purposefulness with which you glance about—a steady tick-tick-tick seeming to beat in your head as you move your gaze from one point to the next—brings to mind the behavior of an animal that has ventured too far from its lair and is now, in unfamiliar surroundings, uncertain whether it is predator or prey!

Observe instead how the shadows have lengthened. Soon they will shut to traffic the gates at either end of this market, transforming Old Anarkali into a pedestrian-only piazza. In fact, they have begun. Will the police arrest those boys on their motor scooter? Only if they can catch them! And already they are streaking away, making good their escape. But they will be the last to do so.

The gates are now being locked, as you can see, and those gaps that remain are too narrow for anything wider than a man. You will have noticed that the newer districts of Lahore are poorly suited to the needs of those who must walk. In their spaciousness—with their public parks and wide, tree-lined boulevards—they enforce an ancient hierarchy that comes to us from the countryside: the superiority of the mounted man over the man on foot.

But here, where we sit, and in the even older districts that lie between us and the River Ravi—the congested, maze-like heart of this city—Lahore is more democratically urban.

Indeed, in these places it is the man with four wheels who is forced to dismount and become part of the crowd.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist

Like Manhattan? Yes, precisely! And that was one of the reasons why for me moving to New York felt—so unexpectedly—like coming home. In a subway car, my skin would typically fall in the middle of the color spectrum. On street corners, tourists would ask me for directions.

I was, in four and a half years, never an American; I was immediately a New Yorker. My voice is rising? You are right; I tend to become sentimental when I think of that city. It still occupies a place of great fondness in my heart, which is quite something, I must say, given the circumstances under which, after only eight months of residence, I would later depart.

Certainly, much of my early excitement about New York was wrapped up in my excitement about Underwood Samson. I remember my sense of wonder on the day I reported for duty. Their offices were perched on the forty-first and forty-second floors of a building in midtown—higher than any two structures here in Lahore would be if they were stacked one atop the other—and while I had previously flown in airplanes and visited the Himalayas, nothing had prepared me for the drama, the power of the view from their lobby.

This, I realized, was another world from Pakistan; supporting my feet were the achievements of the most technologically advanced civilization our species had ever known.

Often, during my stay in your country, such comparisons troubled me. In fact, they did more than trouble me: they made me resentful. Four thousand years ago, we, the people of the Indus River basin, had cities that were laid out on grids and boasted underground sewers, while the ancestors of those who would invade and colonize America were illiterate barbarians. Now our cities were largely unplanned, unsanitary affairs, and America had universities with individual endowments greater than our national budget for education.

To be reminded of this vast disparity was, for me, to be ashamed. But not on that day. I wished I could show my parents and my brother! I stood still, taking in the vista, but not for long; soon after our arrival we entering analysts were marched into a conference room for our orientation presentation.

There a vice president by the name of Sherman—his head gleaming from a recent shave—laid out the ethos of our new outfit. You were the best candidates at the best schools in the country. Your bonuses and staffing will depend on them.

I glanced about me to see how my fellow trainees were responding. There were five of them, in addition to myself, and four sat rigidly at attention; the fifth, a chap called Wain-wright, was more relaxed. But aside from light-hearted banter of this kind, there would be little in the way of fun and games at the workplace.

For the next four weeks, our days followed a consistent routine. In the mornings we had a three-hour seminar: one of a series of modules that attempted to abridge an entire year of business school.

We were taught by professors from the most prestigious institutions—a Wharton woman, for example, instructed us in finance—and the results of the tests we were administered were carefully recorded. Lunch was taken in the cafeteria; over chicken-pesto-in-sun-dried-tomato wraps we observed the assured urgency with which our seniors conducted themselves.

Afterwards we attended a workshop intended to familiarize us with computer programs such as PowerPoint, Excel, and Access. I see you are impressed by the thoroughness of our training. I was as well. At Princeton, learning was imbued with an aura of creativity; at Underwood Samson, creativity was not excised—it was still present and valued—but it ceded its primacy to efficiency.

Maximum return was the maxim to which we returned, time and again. We learned to prioritize—to determine the axis on which advancement would be most beneficial—and then to apply ourselves single-mindedly to the achievement of that objective.

But these musings of mine are perhaps rather dry! I do not mean to imply that I did not enjoy my initiation to the realm of high finance. On the contrary, I did. I felt empowered, and besides, all manner of new possibilities were opening up to me.

I will give you an example: expense accounts. Do you know how exhilarating it is to be issued a credit card and told that your company will pick up the tab for any ostensibly work-related meal or entertainment? Forgive me: of course you do; you are here, after all, on business.Would these workers be fired? In their spaciousness—with their public parks and wide, tree-lined boulevards—they enforce an ancient hierarchy that comes to us from the countryside: It was the seventies.

Fair enough. I will give you an example: expense accounts.

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