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New Delhi, NEW DELHI, IND
Since 9/11 the reader has been inundated with academic volumes about radical Islam, the geo-political alliances of Pakistan and the identity of the Taliban. What has been lacking is Travels in a Dervish Cloak, an affectionate, hashish-scented travel book, full of humour and delight, written by a young Irish foreign correspondent living on his wits, on the contacts from his grandmother s address book and with a kidney given to him by his brother. Others might have conserved this gift of a life-saving kidney by living a sober and quiet life, but it had the opposite affect on Isambard Wilkinson, who took to the adventurous life of a Daily Telegraph foreign correspondent like a cat assured of nine lives. His rich and wonderfully intimate picture of Pakistan describes the country in all its exuberant, colourful, contemporary glory. It s a place where past empires, be they Mughal or Raj, continue to shine like old gold beneath the chaotic jigsaw of Baluch, Punjabi, Sindi and Pashtun peoples, not to mention warlords, hereditary saints, bandit landlords, smugglers and party-mad socialites. The only way to understand the contradictions is to plunge into the riot of differences, and to come out grinning.