The Reluctant Fundamentalist

reluctant

The Reluctant Fundamentalist
Mohsin Hamid
Penguin Random House, 2007
Style: Dramatic Monologue
Pages: 184

Just finished reading a reluctant fundamentalist and I assure you I will not sleep peacefully for a long time. Firstly, the rush of completing a book in one sitting has been entirely absent from my life and feeling it again today makes me feel more alive than I have in quite some time.
 
Secondly, I cannot decide what I feel about the book. There might be spoilers ahead so I insist you stop reading this post. I do not understand how to feel about it. The way India-Pakistan relationship has been described from Pakistan’s perspective is slightly moving. I do have friends in the country but I must admit all of us are too shy to directly broach this topic. We take our solace in promising each other our friendship and inviting each other over for kheer and biryani is one of the thing we bond over. Surprisingly even our discussion about cricket are muted. This book gave me a look into their heads and the proposition is scary. The book just brushes over the topic but it is too poignant for me to ignore. Does America win, and we both lose?
 
Thirdly I wonder about the title. Fundamentalism has formed part of multiple contexts in the book. Beginning with his job where Changez is asked to concentrate on finances and not worry about the layoffs and the lives that are attached to his cold analysis. About how the corporation expects that one distance themselves from everything else. I like how the street violence against Muslim’s after 9/11 has been downplayed in the book, how September has been related to new beginnings. How his entire story, so breezy at first develops into a character one would not quite like. A character one would begin to distrust. From obsessing over his brains, mannerisms and appearance to doubting his motives behind everything. To being convinced that he is politically motivated and a fundamentalist of the highest order, blinded and brainwashed.
 
The most interesting concept is that of his comparison with Janissaries – Christians who were raised by the Ottomans to destroy the own civilisation and thus develop a loyalty out of not having any alternative. Isn’t this the same image we get when we think of the ISIS? We imagine kids being raised for war and suicide. We see us, Asians, being so intimately linked with the Americans that we justify their dominance and their need in our homes. Our homes of history and grandeur that they are far from comprehending. That we might begin to forget if we fall prey into the the alternate kind of fundamentalism.
 
The ending of the book does not tell us who won. It gives us a choice. Which world order so we wish to subscribe to? The answer will split us, will make us angry. It will make us the reluctant fundamentalist.
 
PS: I checked out the image results for the movie and it does zero justice to how beautifully I had pictured everything.

The Picture of Dorian Gray | Oscar Wilde

What is the point of reading anything?
It makes for good dinner time conversation.

If not for stories, we would be thinking about people and their affairs. I’d rather have my nose in a book. It is never so that we are not thinking of anything. The Picture of Dorian Gray gives us a lot to think about.

The appreciation of pleasure and youth is the central theme of this book. But what really strikes you is the power of influence. Lord Henry, who holds the entire charm of the book on his shoulders is a peculiar character. With his smooth talk delivered often without much thought, he chanellises the entire story, all the lives around him. You have to be vary of him, which is hard when you admire him so much.

Is insincerity such a bad thing? I think not. It is merely a method by which we can multiply our personalies.

You know you will ponder over that later.

Thats the effect of this book.

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THE DIGITAL FORTRESS

Julius Caesar’s perfect square cipher box

Caesar was the first code writer in history when his foot messengers started getting ambushed and his secret communiqués stolen, he devised a rudimentary(though still genius) way to encrypt his directives. He rearranged the text of his messages such that the correspondence looked senseless. Of course, it was not. Each message had a letter count that was a perfect square-sixteen, twenty five, hundred, depending on how much Caesar needed to say. He secretly informed his messengers that when a random message arrived, they should transcribe the text into a square grid. If they did, and read top to bottom, a secret message would magically appear.

Over time Caesar’s concept of rearranging text was adopted by others who modified it to make it more difficult to break. The pinnacle of non-computer based encryption came during World War II. The Nazis built a baffling encryption machine named Enigma. The device resembled an old fashioned typewriter with brass interlocking rotors that revolved in intricate ways and shuffled cleartexts into confounding arrays of seemingly senseless character groupings. Only by having another Enigma machine calibrated the exact same way, could the recipient break the code.

A CODE FROM THE BOOK

PFEE SESN RETM PFMA IRWE OOIG MEEN NRMA
ENET SHAS DCNS IIAA IEER BRNK FBLE LODI

Blocks of four- just like the Enigma

Four by 16=64

A perfect square

Eight rows of eight

P F E E S E S N
R E T M P F H A
I R W E O O I G
M E E N N R M A
E N E T S H A S
D C N S I I A A
I E E R B R N K
F B L E L O D I

Caesar’s box. Read the message up to down. That will give a message.

“Prime difference between elements responsible for Hiroshima and Nagasaki.”

Prime= prime number
Difference= subtraction
Elements= the ones in chemistry

…the common conception that the Nagasaki bomb was a plutonium bomb. In fact, the device employed uranium, like its sister in Hiroshima.

Nagasaki bomb did not use plutonium but rather an artificially manufactured neutron-saturated isotope of uranium 238.

Atomic mass of uranium is 135

U-235, U-238 and Plutonium…

Now it wont take a genius to guess the kill code.

Prime difference of elements…

238-235=3

A prime number.

Difference in mass of the two isotopes of uranium.

Aint that totally genius?
And simple, basically pure?

There is nothing like the digital fortress, no unbreakable code.

An unbreakable code is a mathematical impossibility.

The Bergofsky’s principle holds.

Okay now guys, break this code (of my creation- very easy!)

SDEL AANN YEMR BTLB TKOA
OUAH LOSE VSKN DDMU TRDE
IKFE YTAS RDNI OSJI NAIO
GNRP OTDN NSAG HIKI DDKT
NAET ECRI PODR AESA IFLP

decrypt the message
if you support the cause, post the blog link as you status and let others know…

credits- The Digital Fortress by Dan Brown
without wax
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