4 Nov 2009

New reads

I've just finished reading this fantastic book called "The Caliph's House", by Tahir Shah. Tahir Shah is British and a writer who has lived in London most of his life.But as a child he had visited his grandfather who was at that time living in Morocco. Since then he had always dreamed of living in Morocco too so when he got the chance of buying a house there he grabbed it with both hands and moved with his family to this country,when he could neither speak Arabic nor French. When I first started reading the book I thought that this is another of those travel books - in fact Tahir Shah did give it a second title - A year in Casablanca. But once you start reading, you just can't put it down. It grabs you and pulls you along; Tahir's reason for leaving England sounds familiar enough - small cramped apartment where you can hear your neighbours quarrelling or making love. When he uprooted his pregnant wife and little daughter I thought 'what an irresponsible man" but reading on I realise that this man is neither a dreamer nor irresponsible. It is because he loves his family that he takes them away to his dream house - albeit an old and ramshackle one that has seen better days. Tahir believes he can bring back the glory days of the house - Dar Khalifah - a huge rambling house that is full of jinns. Renovating a centuries old dilapidated house is no mean feat but he is adventurous enough, enterprising enough and maybe 'innocent' enough to carry it through. He meets with con men, liars, lazy ruffians who work as his contractors and deals with them with the classic aplomb of the innocent gullible man. This book is not funny 'funny' but Tahir Shah's sense of humour and style shines through. His view of life in Morocco is lively and original. I'm now reading his second book -In Arabian Nights, which promises to be as entertaining as the earlier one. I'm also looking forward to reading another book of his - In Search of King Solomon's Mines.

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