Enjoyable, sensitive memoir
Reviewed by Aradhika Sharma

The Perfect Gentleman
by Imran Ahmad
Hachette. Pages 333. Rs 550

Imran Ahmad looks at the problems of immigrantsWould you usually pick up a novel with the picture of a pugnacious looking little boy dressed up in a suit and white shoes on the cover? Maybe not, but if the book is The Perfect Gentleman by Imran Ahmad, then you ought to. An extremely charming book about a little Pakistani boy who grows up in the West, the book is thought provoking without either the writer or the reader having to take themselves terribly seriously. The book makes you laugh, while also making you thoughtful.

The book is funny, but it is poignant and sensitive; it is hard hitting, but itís kind, it takes up issues of cultural and religious differences, but in a way that does not make you, the reader, uncomfortable. It makes you look at issues and difficulties of immigrants but does not rub them in your face. In short, itís an intelligent, enjoyable book to read.

The Perfect GentlemanBorn in Pakistan, Ahmad left Karachi at age one to immigrate to London with his parents. Thereafter, the book chronicles his journey from his native place to England and America. Ahmad carefully registers his age before every episode in his life ó from age 0 to age 48 (in 2011) Ė the time it took to come of age and mature. His journey includes lessons in religious seclusion and inclusion, his heart leaping and breaking in love and from being considered academically weak to being the bright spark of class- his voyage into learning, scholarship and achievement.

Brutally honest about himself and his experiences, he deals with the delicate topic of what it means to be a Muslim in the western world today. He talks of the conflicts in his religion and culture and that of Christianity and then the process of coming to terms with it all.

If you read nothing of the book but the afterword, you would have Ahmadís philosophy of life in a few passionately and honestly written pages. In this section, by stating his belief in oneness of humanity, in peace, in the importance of living a happy life, he completes the lacuna between where the book ends and where he is now in terms of personal and spiritual development, stating that he would have to write another book to describe that process.

"When will I ever find the time?" he laments. Well, we surely hope that he does find the time soon. Weíre ready and waiting for the sequel.





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