HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Book Review

Book Review: by Lang Reid

A Pakistani House Husband

Another very different book arrived on the reviewer’s table this week, so thank you. The blurb that came with “A Pakistani House Husband, the Beauty and the Chaos” (ISBN 9-780-64646-777-1, Wormpound Press, Australia, 2007) indicated that author David Vee Rodden had lived in Islamabad for three years, and this book was a record of his travels and life in an Islamic country.
The 350 page paperback covers the first year in Pakistan for author Rodden and his Belgian wife. She had accepted a position as personal assistant to the ambassador of Belgium to Pakistan and Afghanistan, and the financial situation was such that the author did not need to work, becoming more of a de-facto house husband. However, those who have spent any time in Asia would also realize that there is a veritable army of servants ready to clean, cook, wash and put away, and Islamabad was no different, so the author was not overly taxed by hard labor.
To the credit of Rodden and his wife, they did manage to explore other areas of Pakistan, and as a travelogue, this book is excellent, in that it does give the reader an idea of what life was like in the various regions.
However, for me, author Rodden lets himself down with his seeming fascination with scatological references. One is enough. We’ve all had the trots in Asia. It is nothing earth shattering, despite toilet splattering, which Rodden took several pages to make sure we fully realized just what had happened. I have had to abandon more than one handkerchief in an Asia toilet, but it really doesn’t need to be repeated page after page.
I did find it interesting when Rodden sought out the Muslim thoughts and raison d’etre. After all, their opinion does matter, and it was interesting to see that the author took to calling himself Belgian, rather than his native Australian, there being considerable enmity to the land down-under, for its position supporting America in the Iraq war. There was no doubt in the Pakistani minds as to who were the aggressors. (Or in mine!)
Islamabad? Islamagood? This book does not really judge, but author David Vee Rodden leaves that to you, while recording many of the frustrations experienced by anyone out of their own society and propelled into an alien Asian country. Constant outages of the “electric city” is well known to anyone living in Thailand.
I would also have preferred much less of the waffles into surrealism, and fortunately the publisher saw to printing those sections in italics, so skipping them became easier. At one stage in the book, the author mentions his reading of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, a cult book of a few decades ago. I got the distinct feeling he was attempting to emulate this book, something he, quite frankly, did not need to do. The book stands on its own merits, without any ganja fuelled sections. Again a subject that crops up endlessly, interspersed with scat (and not the musical interpretation either).
An interesting book that should propel author Rodden into a literary career.