Friday, August 31, 2007

Taj Mahal: A Hindu temple ???

Speaking of alternate theories I must admit that for a long time I have had a soft corner for the following:

Some of the arguments and the photographs churn the mind and as yet I haven’t found a strong rebuttal of the same. Criticisms of this theory are generally at a 25000-ft level. Makes me wonder………

Book Review: Children of Kali by Kevin Rushby

I have always been interested in the underdog, in the ‘alternate’ view, in the rebel’s passion and the so-called conspiracy theories,

This book presents such an alternate view of the thuggee cult ( that existed in India and was exterminated by the British masters during their colonial rule over India. The conventional view being that they were an Indian network of secret fraternities who were engaged in murdering and robbing travelers in the name of the Hindu tantric goddess Kali. Incidentally the word thug finds its derivation from ‘thuggee’.

Some key extracts from the book that throw light on thuggees

It was Sleeman’s grandson James who did the calculation in 1933. One thug strangling 8 men per month for 20 years, multiplied by all the thugs in India for all the years before anyone knew anything about it until its final demise in the 1840s equals, at a conservative estimate, 1 million murders.

The man who eradicated this criminal conspiracy became a hero of the British Raj. During the 1830s and 1840s, William Henry Sleeman supported by 17 assasins and about a 100 sepoys, hunted down and captured over 3000 thugs.

The word thug was punched deep into the English language …….soon to take the modified form of ‘ruffian’ rather then the original ‘deceiver’.

…..the road north from Nagpur to the Nerbudda, the most dangerous and thug-infested territory.

But the surprise of the book is the refutation of the conventional explanation of the religious background to this cult. The author expounds on the following

………….the thugs were drawn from all backgrounds and castes: there were Muslims and Hindus, Brahmins and untouchables, warriors and farmers……perhaps most surprising…..was that one thug was found to be British: a renegade soldier……

The arrival of the British had a huge effect on agriculture, starting the wave of tree clearances that have resulted in the open countryside of India today.

…One of the first acts of the British in their new dominions was to establish an opium monopoly in the suitable upland region of Malwa to the west of Jabalpur……….China had been supplied with the drug by European merchants for many years…….demand was increasing and British merchants saw an opportunity……..Huge areas of land began to go under poppy cultivation in Malwa.

As China became dependent on India chan du, British India developed an unhealthy addiction to the revenue raised……The system was that rich Bombay merchants would send money to buy the product in advance…….Jewels, dollars and gold mohurs came pouring across India into Malwa………The time to do this was shortly after the Dassera festival in mid-October, exactly the same time that all accounts gave as the onset of the thugs ‘hunting season’.

………the thugs were freebooters and to a great extent created by British conquests……….does not mention Kali or nationwide leaders or high levels of organization.

In the view of Stewart Gordon of the Univ.of Michigan, ‘It was the writing of William Sleeman and the evangelical, crusading tone of the British Indian administration of the 1830s that played up these locally-organized, small-scale marauding groups (given the name thugs by the British) into a hideous, widespread religious conspiracy, somehow typical of India and Indian “national character”.’

……….the drug-running East India Company also placed temptation under their noses, then hanged them without too much bothering with evidence. William Sleeman for his pains became a hero to the Raj.

………..The Criminal Tribes Act 1871 was repealed in 1952 soon after Independence being regarded as untenable in a civilized and egalitarian society. No one can now be legitimately described as of a criminal tribe or caste…………At its peak the Act is said to have encompassed 13 million people, all of them criminals by reason of birth……..their lot had been told……where they could and could not live, to be punished for movement outside boundaries, to have their children taken away, their marriages controlled and their men imprisoned. The rules were so stringest, the punishments so draconian that many honest individuals were driven to crime, a fact that was often held up as proof of their recidivist genetic tendencies.

While murder was certainly being done on India’s roads in the 1820s and thirties, the British reaction was partial, unbalanced and unjust. Thuggee was a social evil but it was not a religious cult: it was a threat to the opium trade.

(The Criminal Tribes Act)…….the forces unleashed in India dealt blows to the poorest and most defenceless people at the bottom of the caste system; and into the very foundations of the Indian police service it laid deep veins of corruption, bigotry and injustice that continue to poison its work 170 years later.

The unfortunate truth is that Indian history has been written and is being rewritten by its previous colonial master and their modern counterparts i.e. the British and the Western world. The further unfortunate aspect is that probably there is hardly any original research into such mass brainwashing. Whether it be the Aryan Invasion theory (AIT) or the thuggee cult or …………., the former slaves still follow the slavish theories of their former masters blindly.

A developing nation doesn’t really have the time to do an original and comprehensive study of its history. All it does and can do is following the established theories that are dumped on them. May the sun dawn on our history someday.

Book Review: India’s unending journey – Finding balance in the time of change by Mark Tully

Since I read this book within a short time of reading the book by Asra reviewed below, the following extract is particularly pertinent for the topic under question

In his commentary on the Mahabharata, Chaturvedi Badrinath writes: ‘There has hardly been anything in human history that has produced greater violence and killing than conflicting perceptions of what truth is.’ It is when those perceptions leave no room for doubt or questioning, when they are held too firmly, that violence follows.

Mark is particularly impressed by the ability of Hinduism to accommodate uncertainty and not insist on certainty, its ability to continuously borrow and absorb from all that it comes into contact with it. Although this book reverberates with his love for India and its people, I didn’t find it to be a love blind to the failings of the Indian society.

Although the following text does look at the positives of casteism, it should in no way be read as a condonation (if indeed that is the noun form of the verb ‘condone’) of the horrible atrocities carried out in its name:

Meritocracy is a cruel concept because success becomes the goal of life and we can never all be given equal opportunities from birth onwards in order to succeed and become a meritocrat. Those who do not succeed in a meritocracy often suffer mentally because the social ethos implies that it was their fault that they failed. …such societies tend to turn into a rat race with those who lose being regarded and regarding themselves as failures.

I talked about feminism in religion in my previous blog update. In that context the following statements by Mark make nice reading

..Kamasutra (an Indian sex manual possibly from as early as the 2nd Century CE)….Vatsyayana (the author) clearly recognizes that women have sexual desires too, and advises them on how these might be fulfilled. His guidance ranges from telling virgins how to get husbands to a discussion of the female orgasm, which as the psychoanalysts Sudhir Kakar and Wendy Doniger rightly point out in their introduction to their translation of the Kama Sutra, is ‘far more subtle than views that prevailed in Europe until very recently indeed’.

A gentle and free flowing book written filled with the milk of human goodness.

Book Review: Standing Alone in Mecca – A Pilgrimage into the Heart of Islam by Asra Q. Nomani

A thought right towards the end of the book ‘Your book is the kicking of the foetus in the belly of Islam’ summarizes this books journey aptly. This is the autobiographic extract of the Islamic journey of a Muslim woman of India origin raised in the US, a single unwed mother, friend of Daniel Pearl the slain Jewish journalist, who travels to Mecca and starts rediscovering her feminist Muslim identity and in the process starts raising a lot of pertinent questions from a feminine angle.

Many of her examples of the pro-feminist leanings of the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) delight the mind and also raise despair at the hijacking (generally speaking) of almost all major religions by the male-lobby

Some examples

  • …..the Prophet created a community that was built on feminist ideals…..the prophet was Islam’s first feminist…he accepted as his first love and first wife a woman who was savvier, wealthier and more successful in the world than he was…….the Qu’ran gave women rights of inheritance and divorce centuries before women gained such rights in the West……During the Prophets time and for some years thereafter, women prayed in the Prophet’s mosque with no partition between them and the men. Historians record women’s presence in the mosque and participation in education and in political and literary debates as well as in asking questions of the Prophet after his sermons, transmitting religious knowledge and providing social services. When the Prophet heard that some men were positioning themselves in the mosque to be closer to an attractive woman, his solution wasn’t to ban the women but to admonish the men………
  • …feminist Muslim scholars say the Prophet vastly improved the rights of women at the time and encouraged their self-expression…..Aisha…the prophets favourite wife…..Today nearly half of the Islamic jurisprudence of the Hanafi school of thought, which is followed by 70 % of Muslims is based on the theology and jurisprudence communicated by Aisha to her students….She became a transmitter of the 4th largest number of hadith, or sayings of the Prophet…..She also earned respect as a profound critical thinker and great expert in law, history, medicine, mathematics and astronomy

  • A profound Iranian Muslim thinker, Ali Shariati, appreciated the feminist spirit of the Prophet and told his students:

    The Prophet of Islam who was such an elevated personality and one before whom history is humbled, when he entered his home was kind, lenient and gentle. When his wives quarreled with him, he left his home and made a place for himself in the storage area without showing any harsh reaction against them…….The Prophets behavior was so humane that it amazes us.

To my delight she also quotes frequently the writings of the religious scholar Karen Armstrong (some of whose books, esp. the ones on the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) and the Buddha are classics)

‘The women of the first ummah in Medina took full part in its public life, and some, according to Arab custom, fought alongside the men in battle,’ wrote Karen Armstrong in Islam: A Short Hitory. ‘They did not seem to have experienced Islam as an oppressive religion, though later, as happened in Christianity, men would hijack the faith and bring it in line with the prevailing patriarchy.’

As is to be expected, given the current hostile environment she does not go the whole hog. For e.g. she raises a mild protest against the following quote in her book.

The Qu’ran allows Muslim men to marry Jewish and Christian women…... But non-Muslim men are forbidden to Muslim women. The Qu’ran (2.221) says: ‘Nor marry your girls to unbelievers until they believe. A man slave who believes is better than an unbeliever.’

Compare the current Christian era with the one that existed during the time of Galileo. In the recent past we had some high-up Christian priests in the UK saying that the Bible should be read metaphorically rather than factually. And the situation during the times of Galileo when his
heliocentric model of the universe led to his house arrest by the Church since it was their opinion that it probably contradicted with their interpretation of the Bible. Times changes, religious leanings change. Islam was a tolerant religion during its Golden Age, and certainly much much more liberal than the other leading religions during that time. The wheel has turned a circle and today Islam is probably caught in the Saudi / Talibani grip. I am sure that the day is not far off when there will arise strong role models in the Islamic societies who will lead to a revival of the true and tolerant face of Islam with their moderate interpretations and moderating influence. But of course that could take centuries also. As applies to all other societies Democracy, education and globalization is the way forward.

This book though not a classic in terms of writing style, prose or tautness, is certainly a good read.

Random thoughts..........not mine

The Gospel by Kipling

He that hath a gospel
Whereby heaven is won
(Carpenter or cameleer,
Or Maya’s dreaming son)
Many swords shall pierce Him
Mingling blood with gall;
But his own disciple
Shall wound him worst of all!

My swaraj (self rule or independence) is to keep intact the genius of our civilization. I want to write many new things but they must all be written on the Indian slate. I would gladly borrow from the West when I can return the amount with decent interest.

- Mahatma Gandhi

We are the Plgrims, master; we should go
Always a little further: it may be
Beyond that last blue mountain barred with snow
Across that angry or that glimmering sea…

We travel not for trafficking alone;
By hotter winds our fiery hearts are fanned;
For lust of knowing what should not be known,
We take the Golden Road to Samarkand

- James Elroy Flecker

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Story of our lives............

When our ancestors found that wheat
Was a good bread to eat
They settled in Jericho
All of us are settled now
But in our souls there is great woe:
We don’t know where to go

I am settled in a fine place
I own a house, I live in grace,
I have a patio
But late at night when the winds lament,
and the garden shivers – my soul is rent:
I don’t know where to go

One day when I say goodbye
To life and wife, and lie and fly
Somehere in a great flow,
I shall be free to roam again
I’ll try to find but try in vain
Where to go, where to go.

- Henry Shore

Friday, August 3, 2007

Movie Review: Black Friday

Movie Review of Black Friday (see

This movie is a docu-drama on the 1993 serial bomb blasts in Mumbai carried out by Muslim mobsters allegedly in retaliation of the riots in Mumbai where Hindu mobs targeted the Muslims (which followed the destruction of the Babri Masjid by Hindu crowds)

Starting with the brilliantly simple statement of Mahatma Gandhi: ‘An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind’, this movie so reminded me of United 93, the docu drama of the 2 planes crashing into the World Trade Centre on 9/11. Its not as crisp as the Hollywood movie but is trendsetting in the Bollywood context.

Although almost universally praised (including many Western film critics), surprisingly I found nobody really mentioned the points I am going to cover below. So here goes

Some aspects of the scenes/script were quite weak

  • The policeman advising one of the main investigators not to open the scooter storage compartment since that can trigger the bomb. Duh!!!! And that too when they are actually searching for explosives
  • Following an initial lead, the police vans rather overtly arriving in full force down a crowded Mahim Dargah Road to follow a lead at the residence of Rubina Memon. Lots of advance notice for the bomber to make a getaway. I guess to provide a level playing field for all parties.
  • The policeman raiding the Rubina Memon house not using gloves and doing a rather amateurish job at raiding, displaying a surprising lack of urgency
  • Tiger Memon’s accountant lifting an obviously empty suitcase oh so easily onto the airport trolley.
  • The rather comic drama of the capture of Imtiaz and the inept (does that surprise me J?) police. Everybody just seems to have endless reserves of energy in running………and just letting Imtiaz escape
  • The Imtiaz character being forced to imprint his bloodied thumb print on presumably a confession. Would it take a very stupid judge not to suspect something fishy?
  • The discovery of the RDX sacks among fishstock: a badly made scene
  • And I do have a slight crib about the indipop sounding final song accompanying the credits. It seemed to rather trivialize the film, the film seemed to be cruising along at a certain competency of integrity and then this song seemed to reduce it to something totally amateurish

Having got the above points out of the way, I would like to concentrate on the positives of the film, which are many. The scenes standing out in my memory from this film

  • The chilling aura generated by Pavan Varma (portraying Tiger Memon)
  • The reenactment of the bombings at Stock Market and in the BEST bus
  • The rather authentic location shoots throughout India, mostly Mumbai
  • Tiger Memon’s short speech drawing Badshah into the plot, a marvelous scene

The small characters who make the movie memorable

  • The lady outside Rubina Memon’s house questioned on her whereabouts
  • The accountant / manager of Tiger Memon who cracks open
  • The Imtiaz character
  • Dangale the interrogator

The movie is a must-watch and possibly a collectors-item

And finally I must dedicate this first film review on my blog to whose regular movie reviews are a treat to read. I hope to draw inspiration from you

Book Review: The Dancing Girls of Lahore by Louise Brown

The Dancing Girls of Lahore by Louise Brown is distressing book. Primarily because it offers a mirror to us, South Asians on a gutter-society (for want of a better word) existing right under and in-front of their eyes but which we (and our rulers) conveniently choose to ignore and trample upon.

It’s a sociologists diary-converted-to-book, an experience (over a few years) of life in the Heera Mandi red-light district of Lahore, Pakistan. Primarily narrating the story of a particular family of prostitutes: Maha and her children. It’s a heart-wrenching walk through the changing face of Lahore’s Heera Mandi and the everyday tale of trials and tribulations faced by a host of characters: male, female and the khusras the 3rd gender (

As an writers’ narration of her experiences, it is expected that they would be flavoured on every page by her views and opinions, biases, upbringing and beliefs, perhaps condescension and so they do. The question that does spring up from time to time in my mind in the book is how can the writer be a passive observer to some pretty ghastly episodes: watching a child succumb to TB due to lack of money (small change for the author), watching the event of an underage girl being sent to have her virginity ‘broken’ in a Sheikhs palace in the Middle East, recording faithfully the daily episodes of prostitution by minors etc.. All in the name of aseptic intellectual pursuit!!!!!! Or am I being a little too simplistic here? Which reminds me of that much-distributed email photo of a starving almost-dead African child about to be eaten by a vulture. The helpful text accompanying the photo mentions that the photographer did not venture to help the child and the child must have doubtless been eaten by the vulture soon after. The award-winning photographer later committed suicide. Which brings us to the potent question as to how far can you remain uninvolved in the subject-matter on hand.

I would recommend this as a must-read for all, primarily for its stress on talking about those ignored sections of society which we and our press all too often conveniently sidestep in pursuit of ‘India Shining’ or ‘Pakistan Shining’ or whatever.

The following statement in that book caught my eye and had me fuming in indignation (a little too soon as I was to discover). “3000 years ago religious prostitution flourished in Hindu temples throughout the subcontinent. Pubescent girls were married to gods and dedicated to temples where they performed ritual dances…………..This is not an archaic practice: its legacy continues even today in the devadasi tradition of India.” I was about to shout ‘No. It does not continue and has nothing to do with modern India’ when I thought of doing some preliminary research first. Sure enough, my indignation turned to embarrassment at my ignorance. Refer to and the following statement at

‘The government of Orissa has stated that the devadasi system is not prevalent in the state. There is only one Devadasi in Orissa, in a Puri temple. Similarly the government of Tamil Nadu wrote that this system has been eradicated and there are now no devadasis in the state. Andhra Pradesh has identified 16,624 devadasis within its state and Karnataka has identified 22,941. The government of Maharashtra did not provide the information as sought by the Commission. However, the state government provided statistical data regarding the survey conducted by them to sanction a "Devadasi Maintenance Allowance". A total of 8,793 applications were received and after conducting a survey 6,314 were rejected and 2,479 devadasis were declared eligible for the allowance. At the time of sending the information, 1,432 Devadasis were receiving this allowance.’

My apologies Louise, I stand corrected.

In this connection, Bollywood fans might find the following facts about Lata Mangeshkar informative. These are taken from the book Bollywood – A history by Mihir Bose, an otherwise pedestrian book.
‘…….the forefathers of the Mangeshkars came from Somnath, where they were devdasi (temple musicians and dancers) at a temple………….After the sacking of the temple and its wonderful treaures by Mohammed of Ghazni (whose annual winter habit was to plunder India)…..Lata’s ancestors fled Somnath for the south and settled in Goa, in a place called Mangesh……..Here they once again resumed their services as devdasis………..Lata has always been cagey about her antecedents and, in her autobiography, written in Marathi, her native language, there is no reference to all this.

Update on 3-Apr-11

From ‘The Big Book Shelf’ - Sunil Sethi in conversation with 30 famous writers

William Dalrymple: …… Devadasis in medieval India often had very high status; they were the great dancers and singers. Bharatanatyam originated with them; Chola princesses would become devadasis. Many devadasis were not simple prostitutes, but had a high status in temples – they looked after the sanctuary and were consorts of the deity which meant looking after the idol. In many ways they were more like nuns than prostitutes. Then legislation – well-meaning initially – in colonial and post-colonial times made the institution illegal but it didn’t kill it, though it cut it's link with the temples and destroyed the devadasis’ high status. Today the devadasis are almost all Dalits and, frankly, their lives are little different from prostitutes working in brothels ………. Yet in their minds, it is entirely different

Book Review: Holy Cow: An Indian adventure by Sarah MacDonald

Talking of the Dervla Murphy book reviewed below brings me to a book: Holy Cow: An Indian adventure by Sarah MacDonald

Seems to me to be just the sort of book one writes with an eye to making money, slightly embellishing it with fanciful experiences. Maybe I am wrong on this count, but again maybe not.

Madam Sarah, sorry to say but I found a layer of snobbishness and snootiness throughout the book.

Views such as the ones below makes me feel you are better off in Sydney then India

  • “………..many Indian flight attendants are rich girls whose parents pay a massive bribe to get them a job involving travel and 5-star hotels”

Now that’s a new one. I have heard that India is a mecca for grafts and related activities but I never heard of this one.

  • “Hindus revere cows, probably because one of their favorite gods, Krishna is a cowherd and Shiva – the Lord of Destruction - has a bull called Nandi”

Doesn’t that sound a bit simplistic to you, Sarah. I mean Lord Ganesh rides on a mouse, why don’t we revere the mouse and put it on a pedestal? With a background of 2000+ years of cow worship in India, you probably thought about it for about 10 minutes, wrote it down in 2 simplistic statements in 2 minutes. Wow, wish life was as simple as that. How about taking a bit more pain in researching, Madam Sarah??

  • “Hari Lal (whose name means ‘green red’).”

Didn’t it occur to you to ask around a bit. ‘Hari’ means ‘God’ or ‘Krishna and ‘Lal’ means ‘son’. You seem to be bent on proving your dumbness or maybe those smart-ass statements rake in money for you at the expense of all those goras laughing at us ‘dumb Indians’ for naming their kids ‘Green Red’. And yes Hari and Lal also mean ‘Green’ and ‘Red’ in some other context.

  • …..Mogul invasion wiped out Buddhism in its country of origin

Hmm, thanks for contributing another ‘original’ theory to the disappearance of Buddhism from its country of origin

  • Didn’t it occur to you to present this book to some of your Indian friends for whetting. ‘Worly Hill’ in Mumbai. ‘Worli’ works just as fine for 99.999% of Mumbai-ites
  • Amma the hugging guru whispering in your ear ‘rootoongarootoongarootoongarootoongarootoongarootoongarootoongarootoonga’? “…….A five-second flash of nonsensical babble is hardly inspiring faith”

Didn’t it occur to you to explain in the book that Amma probably can only converse in Malayalam, her mother tongue and that her words probably made more sense that you could understand…….if you could understand Malayalam.

  • “Indians………they can get married at the age of fifteen but cant drink in this state until twenty-five”

I wonder which version of the marriage laws has she read…Indians getting married at 15. Going by her vision, there must be hordes of them doing that legally.

One wishes for more sensitivity in books someone writes about other cultures. Is that too difficult a demand?

Some thoughts.....................not mine

Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you. You may give them your love but not your thoughts. For they have their own thoughts.

– Kahlil Gibran

Desire, when it stems from the heart and spirit, when it is pure and intense, possesses awesome electromagnetic energy. This energy is released into the ether each night, as the mind falls into the sleep state. Each morning it returns to the conscious state reinforced with the cosmic currents. That which has been imaged will surely and certainly be manifested. You can rely, young man, upon this ageless promise as surely as you can rely upon the eternally unbroken promise of sunrise…and of Spring.

- Swami Sivananda to APJ Abdul Kalam.

All reasonable men adapt themselves to the world. Only a few unreasonable ones persist in trying to adapt the world to themselves. All progress in the world depends on these unreasonable men and their innovative and often non-conformist actions

- George Bernard Shaw

For all your days prepare
And meet them ever alike
When you are the anvil, bear –
When you are the hammer, strike

- a little known poet of the 19th century

Book Review: On a Shoestring to Coorg. An Experience of Southern India by Dervla Murphy

On a Shoestring to Coorg. An Experience of Southern India is a travelogue by Dervla Murphy set sometime in the year 1973. Its about an oldish English(?) lady who is infected by the bug of traveling and he travels in the Coorg area of South India with her 5 year old daughter.

As an Indian, I find that some of the statements/assertions in her book are quite sweeping generalizations and almost filthy racist attitudes. Examples

  • ‘Through the jostling noisy crowd……….no sign here of Hindu inertia’

  • ‘…….she think nothing of lying down on a filthy deck amidst scores of talking, eating, praying or copulating Indians.’

    Indians copulating on the deck???? Now that’s a new insult. Was she on drugs?

  • ‘……..and we have the 5-year old daughter Rachel saying ‘Anyway, I think some of the Indians look more like monkeys.’.Its almost as if the author has put her inner feelings in the mouth of her child thus trying to escape censure. What need prompted the author to include these rantings in the book? Maybe to satisfy her inner racist urges by way of her daughters mouth.
  • ‘….who were putting away more good food in 15 minutes than the average Indian can lay hands on in a month.’

    Talk about exaggerations

  • ‘….to ring the temple bell but I explained that not even Hindu women…….are allowed to do this.’

    Huh!!! She is almost taking this as a representative example rather than an exception which it is. Generalizing for 1 billion people. Madam, get yourself a good education

  • ‘Yet the effects of a vegetarian diet show in the lack of stamina, which is said to be one reason why so few South Indian hockey players are picked in the national team, despite their renowned speed and skill’

    It’s a marginally better decision of the writer to become a writer and not a doctor. I haven’t come across any scientific studies which point this out. In modern times, the author would have be shunned by the public for such horrid racial profiling

  • ‘A small boy who spoke excellent English (he attends one of the last outposts of intelligible English in India – a convent school)’

  • …….and saliva, phlegm and mucus, which are believed to be ‘spoiled semen’ (even today semen is popularly supposed to be stored in the head)

    Duh!!! Which demented characters have you been speaking with?

  • ‘Indians love noise and habitually amplify their degraded cinema pop music to truly diabolic proportions.’

    Oh yes, the westerners are the torchbearers of the civilized world. The music of the easterners is cacophony.

And you have the high and mighty English press: The Guardian, Observer and Times extolling the virtues of this book on the front and back cover.

Its a pity really. Were it not for the conscious/subconscious racism and sneering attitude, the book is quite delightful in parts. Especially the parts that cover the cute 5-year old daughter