Book review: Forbidden Lessons in a Kabul Guesthouse

Mar 04, 2013, 03:19 IST | Lindsay Pereira

According to her website, Suraya Sadeed travelled 'by camelback, bullet-pocked helicopter, ancient boat, horseback and on foot' to places 'where others refused to venture, using her unquenchable spirit and her stubborn will to bring love, laughter, knowledge and caring to those who had nothing'.

If this sounds like the lady in question is the patron saint of Kabul, it’s probably because that biography certainly projects her as one. Her book takes the task seriously too, creating a larger-than-life role for Sadeed in a place where a few thousand others probably do the same thing, but without the luxury of being able to write about it.

Forbidden Lessons in a Kabul Guesthouse, Suraya Sadeed, Hachette, Rs 375

 This may come across as a rather mean-spirited thing to say, but her sheer brazenness is partly to blame. On some pages, for instance, she talks about single-handedly taking on the Taliban. On others, she mentions flying into some remote location by chopper with cash and a doctor to save lives.

After a point, and despite that much-publicised endorsement from Oprah Winfrey, much of this seems like a PR-driven quest for a halo. If she has done phenomenal work in Afghanistan, more power to her. One hopes she gets someone moreobjective to write a book about her in future though.

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