Monday, November 1, 2010

Cutting for Stone By Abraham Verghese

Halloween is over. We had a 10 year old hockey wizard casting spells and a 6 year old bunny (cute bunny suit thanks to HAunt's sewing skills) hopping madly collecting candies helter-skelter. This is the most favorite holiday for the kids. Christmas holds its charm only due to the presents and long holidays. Who can resist dressing up in costumes and getting huge stashes of candy, all community approved! Sharing and bartering of acquired candies went on yesterday and now I can hear the calm rustle of candy wrappers from where I sit. My son has a bigger horde and is able to enjoy it over a long time since he is not as crazy about eating it all at one time. Little sweet tooth is in candy heaven for the moment without giving a thought to what she will do when her horde is over and cheta (big brother) still has a bunch left:-) I used to hide it all and give it away but not lately. They did work hard for it you know..

The other news is of course the matter pertaining to our title here. Yes, I finished this book that my husband spotted for me when we were at the Library the other day. Funny part is I had it on hold a few months back and took out the hold since the wait seemed interminable. I had read a review around the time it was published and had an inkling that I might like it. I think it was in 'More'.  A magazine that I discovered at my son's piano teacher's place. My husband homed in rightly onto this book and I am so glad he did. A wonderful book that tells the story of twins Shiva and Marion born to British Surgeon Thomas Stone and Malayali (person from the state of Kerala in India) missionary sister Mary Joseph Praise in Ethiopia. If it sounds a little distasteful or scandalous or Grey's Anatomyish don't worry. You will not feel any of that once you finish reading. Abraham Verghese is not just a Professor in Stanford School of Medicine but is an accomplished writer as well as a caring human. This last quality is what enables him to be what he is I believe. Reading his other works are naturally in the plan.

In the book he reiterates the beginning of Christianity in Kerala when St. Thomas the Apostle came to India. A fact most Indians at least are familar with I guess. But did you know that Ethiopia is the only African nation that remained independant during the coloniztion of that continent? I bet you only vaguely knew that Ethopia's last and most famous Emperor Haile Selassie I was the last of an unbroken royal line that is believed to begin from the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon? Yes older than the Hapsburg line. Wait till Dan Brown gets a wind of this:-) Ethiopia and Kerala shares much in terms of preferring to wear white, and the presence of early Orthodox/Syrian  Christianity. This page describes how on his visit to Kerala after his much published coronation the Emperor was impressed by the thousands of uniformed school children lining the streets to wlecome him and hired an entire batch of Malayali teachers to teach in Ethiopia? Ethiopia always brought to mind the heartrending picture of a very famished child picking up after a cow to fill his tummy, but now it also brings to mind an independent nation with an outstanding history. In Verghese's own words, a nation of beautiful people emerging from a mingling of Persia and Africa with ancient traditions and a monarchy belonging to the House of Solomon. He goes on to claim that Ethiopian Airlines is one of the best he has ever flown. Verghese does not overlook the reality of Ethopia's impoverishment but this other aspect was never put forward as a rule. The book will be appreciated by expatriates anywhere in the world for its colorful descriptions of their trials and tribulations. So dear reader, take it up and you will have spent some entertaining and educational hours as the 500 or so pages draw to a close....

If you say you have read it, then answer me this: What treatment is administered through the the ear in an Emergency?
(See comments for the answer)