Great para

A helpless Anglophile (like many Pakistanis of my time and place), I often turn to old literature as my mental refuge, what Dr. Maltz called “the foxhole of the mind.” Came across this that sums it up beautifully:

Sometimes, we need the books that never change, the ones whose comforts are immune from reevaluation. Sometimes we need to turn to the safest harbor of all, to the books that only want to welcome us, no questions asked. Sometimes we need to return to Shangri-la.

There Rumpole of the Bailey is brilliantly cross-examining a duplicitous copper, the whole while dreading dealing with his dread wife, She Who Must Be Obeyed. There Holmes and Watson have just deserted the coziness of 221b Baker Street to pursue and evildoer through the chilly London fog. There Jeeves and Wooster motor from one English country house to another, the former trying to stave off impropriety in all its guises, the latter trying to stave off the amorous advances of Madeline Bassett or Honoria Glossop.

To this, I would add Hamish MacBeth’s Lochdubh, and perhaps even some of the better TV series: Sir Humphrey’s Whitehall, Dr. Martin Ellingham’s Portwenn, and the Oxford of Inspectors Lewis and Morris, and Sergeant Hathaway.

Interestingly, little similar about Pakistan or in the Urdu language. Indeed, most Pakistani literature, and South Asian literature in general seems obsessively dark – insisting on a miserable ending even when a perfectly happy one was not only within reach, but more probable. Exhibits A: Captain Gulsher in “Alpha Bravo Charlie“. Or the entire movie “Khuda Keh Liye.”

The one exception I can think of is a fellow denizen of Chakwal who I had the honor of meeting, Colonel Mohammed Khan.

Perhaps Qudratullah Shahab of Shahabnama fame; though I recollect the book as fascinating, but not necessarily humorous. A brilliant man with an amazing career to recount, absolutely. Sir Humphrey Appleby, no.

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