Tahir Shah set out to seek to learn first hand from the great masters of Indian tradition - masters of illusion, deception and street fraud - to investigate and come to understand the strategies behind their artifice. It details his apprenticeship to one of India's great conjurors, and includes encounters with various people and groups who have developed seemingly unusual or extraordinary talents or abilities such as god-men, magicians and hypnotists. Aimed at travellers, readers of travel literature and those who simply want to know how the Indian rope trick' is done and with an interest in Indian esoterica, Tahir Shah provides an insight into an India rarely, if ever, seen by the tourist.
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Do you nurse the fond desire to try your hand--or feet, that is--at firewalking? Go ahead. Tahir Shah writes in this beautifully conceived and executed work of literary travel, "Contrary to popular belief, firewalking is dead simple. The skin on the soles of the feet and the ash which covers the coals are both poor conductors of heat. Anyone can do it."
Do we dare trust Shah's word on this point? Maybe so, maybe not, for, though another character in his book bears the sobriquet, Shah is a superbly engaging trickster. The English-born scion of Afghani nobility, Shah takes his readers on a whirlwind trip across southern India that has at its heart one of the most unusual missions in goal-directed travel literature: namely, to find and learn the art of magic from one of India's greatest practitioners, a mysterious fellow named Hakim Feroze. Finding the master in Calcutta, Shah begs Feroze to accept him as a student; unfortunately, as we see, Feroze does so, though not without hesitation. Shah takes us inside sorcery boot camp, which involves strange drills such as digging a deep hole with a dessert spoon, left-handed; separating dried rice and lentils blindfolded; and catching a dozen cockroaches at once in a small tin mug. In recounting his education, Shah reveals a few professional secrets. For one, the Indian rope trick, that classic of conjuring, is effected not by legerdemain, but by the use of hallucinogenic smoke. And as to snake charming, well, 90 percent of India's snakes are nonvenomous, and it's easy enough to find a nonfatal variety that looks like one of the killer breeds.
Full of conjures and trickery, Shah's book offers an often humorous, sidelong education in the dark arts and more: it brings readers along on a surreal tour of India, affording a window to places well off the tourist track. It all adds up to a first-rate adventure. --Gregory McNameeAbout the Author:
Tahir Shah was born in 1966 into the Afghan nobility, the Saadat of Paghman. His wife is from Bombay and they met during his travels for Beyond the Devil's Teeth. A freelance writer and journalist, he has written widely on the Near and Middle East and India.
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Descripción Phoenix (an Imprint of The Orion Publishing Group Ltd ), 1999. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. book. Nº de ref. de la librería M0753807289