Book: In other rooms, other wonders
Author: Daniyal Mueenuddin
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 3/5
Being a Punjabi Indian, a Punjabi in Pakistan seems more familiar to me than any Indian from other parts of India. The distinct culture, social hierarchy, land economics, politics, women and families, are very similar to the Indian part of Punjab. The opening lines of the book itself resonates with what I have grown up with – Zar, Zoru aur Zameen - three root causes for every crime.
The stories are based on the rich families of Pakistani Punjabis owning thousands of acres, multiple houses in cities and farms in villages, loyal servants working for ages under generous masters, lusty men entwined with ambitious women. I like how Daniyal has used one single family name to represent a particular class of character – The ‘Harounis’ who are the rich landlords with children living abroad, married to American women, visiting holiday homes in villages, throwing lavish parties, creme de la creme of the society, beautiful mistresses and many wives, etc etc. Each story has a character from the Harouni family – same or different but similar for sure. All the other characters and stories revolve around this family either the labour class, ambitious mistresses, old caretakers, foreign bred modern children and their high society friends. You can definitely figure out the big slice of reality in all this, as if Daniyal has closely seen, heard, observed or experienced each and every story.
Each story makes the same point – how the world runs on a Man’s lust, a beautiful woman’s ambitions and the hunger for land and money. Who can imagine the simple and coy burqa clad Muslim woman can make a man her slave with lust and charms, make or break families, drive politics and run dynasties. In the various rooms of worldly politics it’s not a small wonder to see a thin silver lining of love and hope which brings small joys in all the mess.