The reluctant fundamentalist

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Der junge Pakistani Changez kommt nach Amerika, um den klassischen Traum zu leben. Zunächst sieht alles perfekt aus und Changez findet einen vielversprechenden Arbeitsplatz und verliebt sich bald in eine Künstlerin. Doch der tragische. The Reluctant Fundamentalist ist ein Politthriller und Drama aus dem Jahr Regie führte Mira Nair, das Drehbuch wurde unter anderem von Mohsin Hamid. The Reluctant Fundamentalist | Hamid, Mohsin | ISBN: | Kostenloser Versand für alle Bücher mit Versand und Verkauf duch Amazon. Mohsin Hamid: The Reluctant Fundamentalist | Changez, ein junger Pakistani, trifft einen US-Amerikaner in Lahore. Sie kommen ins Gespräch und Changez. The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid, , available at Book Depository with free delivery worldwide.

the reluctant fundamentalist

Component 6: The process of identification (chapters ): Pakistan - Changez's beard - Changez - a modern janissary? Component 7: A fundamentalist? . The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid, , available at Book Depository with free delivery worldwide. The Reluctant Fundamentalist by HAMID MOHSIN, , available at Book Depository with free delivery worldwide.

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Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Themes All Themes. Symbols All Symbols. Theme Wheel. LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Reluctant Fundamentalist , which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

In the Old Anarkali in Lahore, Pakistan, a Pakistani man, Changez , approaches a muscular, well-dressed man, the Stranger , without introducing himself or giving his name.

He tries to find common ground between the Stranger and himself, but he does so by judging the Stranger based on his appearance, much as minorities in the United States are treated.

The fact that he thinks the Stranger is uncomfortable around him, but proceeds with his questioning anyway, makes Changez seem rather sinister — his deferential attitude may not be completely sincere.

Active Themes. Related Quotes with Explanations. The Stranger refuses to remove his jacket and sits with his back against the wall, even though it is a hot day and his position makes him less likely to feel the breeze.

When the Stranger asks him what he thought of Princeton, he replies that answering the question will require that he tell the Stranger a story.

The fact that Changez asks the Stranger a question and then answers it for him suggests that he is less interested in learning about his new friend and more interested in leading, or even bullying him, around the city.

On the other hand, Changez could be eager to practice his English with an America and reminisce about his time at Princeton — no clear explanation for his behavior can be found, at least not yet.

His decision to keep his jacket on and sit near a wall suggests the former and that he has a military awareness about him that indicates he might really be an agent of some sort , while his question to Changez about Princeton suggests the latter.

Coming of Age. Since their odds of being accepted to Princeton are considerably lower, Changez explains, the non-American students tend to be more talented than the Americans.

Changez is a brilliant student and a talented soccer player, although a knee injury in his sophomore year forces him to quit the team.

He graduates from Princeton with perfect grades and excellent job prospects, of which he is well aware. On the Princeton soccer team, and at Princeton in general, his talents separate him from others instead of ingratiating him with his peers.

Even at an elite university, surrounded by students of the same age with similar interests, Changez is conscious of being an outsider, though for the time being, his outsiderness is a point of pride.

Along with a few other Princeton seniors, Changez is selected for a job interview with the company. Nazmi Kemal Meesha Shafi Bina Imaaduddin Shah Junaid Sarah Quinn Clea Chandrachur Singh Learn more More Like This.

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Taglines: Terror has two faces. Edit Did You Know? Trivia According to Mira Nair , on the first day of shooting in the tea shop, one of the main actors in the scene refused to say their lines the way that had been previously discussed and rehearsed.

This forced her to frantically rewrite the script in a race against the shooting schedule. While she did not name the actor specifically, it can be assumed that she was either talking about Liev Schreiber or Riz Ahmed.

Goofs The first line recorded by Bobby in the tea house differs from the first line he heard on his recordings after the whole drama.

A dialogue that was not recorded was heard later in that recording. What audacity. The ruthlessness of the act was surpassed only by its genius.

And David had struck Goliath. I'm sorry if my reaction to the attacks has offended you, Bobby. I hope you see that I'm not celebrating at the death of 3, innocents, just as you would not celebrate the death of , in Baghdad or Kabul, for that matter.

But before conscience kicks in, have you Just so. How much sugar would you like? Very unusual, but I will not insist. Do try these sticky, orange sweets—jalebis—but be careful, they are hot!

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. 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 purchased 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 buy 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. 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. But for me, at the age of twenty-two, this experience was a revelation.

As you can imagine, we new hires availed ourselves of the opportunity to cultivate one another on a regular basis.

I remember the first night we did so; we went to the bar at the Royalton, on Forty-Fourth Street. Sherman came with us on this occasion and ordered a bottle of vintage champagne to celebrate our induction.

I looked around as we raised our glasses in a toast to ourselves. Two of my five colleagues were women; Wainwright and I were non-white.

We were marvelously diverse …and yet we were not: all of us, Sherman included, hailed from the same elite universities —Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, Yale; we all exuded a sense of confident selfsatisfaction; and not one of us was either short or overweight.

It struck me then—no, I must be honest, it strikes me now—that shorn of hair and dressed in battle fatigues, we would have been virtually indistinguishable.

But I suspect Wainwright made this particular allusion to Star Wars mostly in jest, for immediately afterwards he, like I—like all of us, for that matter—drank heartily.

We did so, staggering out into the street around midnight. Wainwright and I shared a cab downtown. The man behind the counter recognized me; he had given me a free meal that morning when I mentioned it was my first day of work.

Although we were speaking in Urdu, Wain-wright seemed to understand. Moreover, it is a mark of friendship when someone treats you to a meal— ushering you thereby into a relationship of mutual generosity— and by the time fifteen minutes later that I saw Wainwright licking his fingers, having dispatched the last crumb on his plate, I knew I had found a kindred spirit at the office.

But why do you recoil? Ah yes, this beggar is a particularly unfortunate fellow. One can only wonder what series of accidents could have left him so thoroughly disfigured.

He draws close to you because you are a foreigner. Will you give him something? Very wise; one ought not to encourage beggars, and yes, you are right, it is far better to donate to charities that address the causes of poverty rather than to him, a creature who is merely its symptom.

What am I doing? I am handing him a few rupees—misguidedly, of course, and out of habit. There, he offers us his prayers for our well-being; now he is on his way.

I was telling you about Wainwright. Over the following weeks, it became clear that he was in strong contention for the top position in our rankings.

All of us analyst trainees were competitive by nature—we had to have been for us to have acquired the grades necessary for consideration by Underwood Samson—but Wainwright was less overtly so; he was genial and irreverent, and was as a consequence almost universally well-liked.

But there was no doubt in my mind that my friend was also extremely talented: his presentations were remarkably clear; he excelled in our interpersonal exercises; and he had an instinct for identifying what mattered most in a business case.

I hope you will not think me immodest when I say that I, too, stood out from the pack. I retained from my soccer-playing days a sort of controlled aggression—not belligerence, mind you, but determination—and I harnessed this to my desire to succeed.

How so? Well, I worked hard—harder, I suspect, than any of the others: subsisting on only a few hours of sleep a night—and I approached every class with utter concentration.

My tenacity was frequently commented upon, with approval, by our instructors. Moreover, my natural politeness and sense of formality, which had sometimes been a barrier in my dealings with my peers, proved perfectly suited to the work context in which I now found myself.

I have subsequently wondered why my mannerisms so appealed to my senior colleagues. Perhaps it was my speech: like Pakistan, America is, after all, a former English colony, and it stands to reason, therefore, that an Anglicized accent may in your country continue to be associated with wealth and power, just as it is in mine.

Or perhaps it was my ability to function both respectfully and with self-respect in a hierarchical environment, something American youngsters—unlike their Pakistani counterparts—rarely seem trained to do.

Whatever the reason, I was aware of an advantage conferred upon me by my foreignness, and I tried to utilize it as much as I could.

One group, including Wainwright and me, rode in a limousine with Jim, the managing director who had hired us; the other group rode with Sherman, who, as a vice president, was more junior in the Underwood Samson pantheon.

Since nothing at our firm happened by chance, we all knew this was a sign. Everyone began to chat—everyone, that is, except Jim and myself.

Jim observed the conversation in silence. Then he glanced in my direction, and I had to avert my eyes so he did not catch me observing him.

You know where that comes from? I know. It was beside the beach— on a rise behind a protective ridge of sand dunes— and it had a swimming pool, a tennis court, and an open-sided white pavilion erected at one end of the lawn for drinking and dancing.

A swing band struck up as we arrived, and I could smell steak and lobster being thrown on a grill. Wainwright seemed very much in his element: he took one of the associates by the arm and soon they were twirling to the beat of the music.

The rest of us watched from the sidelines, cocktails in hand. After a while, I stepped outside the pavilion for some air.

The sun had set, and I could see the lights of other houses twinkling in the distance along the curve of the shore.

The waves were whispering as they came in, causing me to recall being in Greece not long ago. The sea had always seemed far away to me, luxurious and full of adventure; now it was becoming almost a regular part of my life.

How much had changed in the four years since I had left Lahore! I turned; it was Jim. Barbecue going, music playing. Reminded me of Princeton for some reason, of how I felt when I got there.

Jim let his gaze wander out over the water, and for a time we stood together in silence. I found myself wishing during the course of the evening that Erica were there.

You wondered what had become of her? No, I had not forgotten; she was very much a part of my life in New York, and I shall return to her shortly.

And that, as you will come to understand, is saying a great deal. A week later, when the analyst training program came to an end, Jim called us one by one to his office.

He laughed. Nurture it. It can take you a long way. Want to be on it? I felt bathed in a warm sense of accomplishment.

Nothing troubled me; I was a young New Yorker with the city at my feet. How soon that would change!

My world would be transformed, just as this market around us has been. See how quickly they have brought those tables into the street.

Crowds have begun to stroll where only a few minutes ago there was the rumble of traffic. Coming upon this scene now, one might think that Old Anarkali looked always thus, regardless of the hour.

But we, sir, who have been sitting here for some time, we know better, do we not? Yes, we have acquired a certain familiarity with the recent history of our surroundings, and that—in my humble opinion—allows us to put the present into much better perspective.

I have been told that it looks like a rope burn; my more active friends say it is not dissimilar to marks on the bodies of those who have taken up rappelling—or mountain climbing, for that matter.

Perhaps a thought of this nature is passing through your mind, for I detect a certain seriousness in your expression, as though you are wondering what sort of training camp could have given a fellow from the plains such as myself cause to engage in these activities!

Allow me, then, to reassure you that the source of my injury was rather prosaic. We have in this country a phenomenon with which you will doubtless be unfamiliar, given the state of plenty that characterizes your homeland.

Here—particularly in the winter, when the reservoirs of the great dams are almost dry—we face a shortage of electricity that manifests itself in rolling blackouts.

We call this load-shedding, and we keep our homes well-stocked with candles so that it does not unduly disrupt our lives. As a child, during such a time of load-shedding, I grabbed hold of one of these candles, tipped it over, and spilled molten wax on myself.

In America, this would have been the start, in all likelihood, of a protracted bout of litigation with the manufacturer for using candle-wax with such a high, and unsafe, melting point; here, it resulted merely in an evening of crying and the rather faint, if oddly linear, scar you see today.

Ah, they have begun to turn on the decorative lights that arc through the air above this market! A little gaudy? Yes, you are right; I myself might have chosen something less colorful.

But observe the smiles on the upturned faces of those around us. It is remarkable how theatrical manmade light can be once sunlight has begun to fade, how it can affect us emotionally, even now, at the start of the twenty-first century, in cities as large and bright as this one.

Surely, New York by night must be one of the greatest sights in the world. I remember my early nocturnal explorations of Manhattan, so often with Erica as my guide.

She invited me to her home for dinner soon after our return from Greece; I spent the afternoon deciding what to wear.

I knew her family was wealthy, and I wanted to dress as I imagined they would be dressed: in a manner elegant but also casual.

My suit seemed too formal; my blazer would have been better, but it was several years old and struck me as somewhat shabby. In the end, I took advantage of the ethnic exception clause that is written into every code of etiquette and wore a starched white kurta of delicately worked cotton over a pair of jeans.

It was a testament to the open-mindedness and— that overused word— cosmopolitan nature of New York in those days that I felt completely comfortable on the subway in this attire.

Indeed, no one seemed to take much notice of me at all, save for a gay gentleman who politely offered me an invitational smile.

The area—with its charming bistros, exclusive shops, and attractive women in short skirts walking tiny dogs—felt surprisingly familiar, although I had never been there before; I realized later that I owed my sense of familiarity to the many films that had used it as a setting.

Naturally, I responded with an equally cold and rather imperious tone—carefully calibrated to convey both that I had taken offense and that I found it beneath myself to say so—as I stated my business.

This had its desired effect; he promptly rang up to inquire whether I should be allowed to pass and—when informed that I should—directed me in person to the elevator.

I was instructed to press the button for the penthouse, a term associated in my mind with luxury and—yes, I will confess—with pornography as well.

Erica received me with a smile; her tanned skin seemed to glow with health. I had forgotten how stunning she was, and in that moment, pressed as we were into close proximity by the confines of the entryway, I was forced to lower my eyes.

She said she wanted to show me something, and I followed her to her bedroom. I felt a peculiar feeling; I felt at home. Perhaps it was because I had recently lived such a transitory existence—moving from one dorm room to thenext—and longed for the settled nature of my past; perhaps it was because I missed my family and the comfort of a family residence, where generations stayed together, instead of apart in an atomized state of age segregation; or perhaps it was because a spacious bedroom in a prestigious apartment on the Upper East Side was, in American terms, the socioeconomic equivalent of a spacious bedroom in a prestigious house in Gulberg, such as the one in which I had grown up.

Whatever the reason, it made me smile, and Erica, seeing me smile, smiled back and held up a slender, brown parcel. And so I kind of want to hold onto it for a little longer.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist Video

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