Manual The Caliphs House

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I was pleasingly awed by the pricelessness of the book and the verve of Shah. That it fell out of the bookshelves practically at my feet was no longer a cause for intrigue. A maze of rooms stretched out. There were arched doorways with cedar-wood doors, octagonal windows glazed with fragments of coloured glass, mosaic friezes and stucco mouldings, secluded courtyards, and so many rooms — salons, studies, laundry room and kitchens, staff quarters, pantries and at least a dozen bedrooms.

Her grisly, vicious introduction leads to a host of superstitious ramifications — a blood offering to a toilet bowl and raw chicken gobbets thrown into a well. In the end, despite having been at odds with builders, police, imams, and a host of others, Shah comes through. He gains control of the house, solves some mysteries, and exorcises the jinn.

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Intricate, mysterious and charming, this heart-warming story showcases the humanism with which, along with relentless hope, one can reconcile seemingly unbridgeable cultural differences. Do I now see my house as being dull and needing some colour? Source: Department of Environment, Malaysia.

An uncanny encounter with a book takes our columnist to mysterious Morocco. Childhood memories of holidaying with his parents, and of a grandfather he barely knew, led him to Morocco and to 'Dar Khalifa', a sprawling and, with the exception of its jinns, long-abandoned residence on the edge of Casablanca's shanty town that, rumour had it, once belonged to the city's Caliph.

The Caliph's House by Tahir Shah | Penguin Random House Canada

And so begins Tahir Shah's gloriously vivid, funny, affectionate and compelling account of how he and his family - aided, abetted and so often hindered by a wonderful cast of larger-than-life local characters: guardians, gardeners, builders, artisans, bureacrats and police not forgetting the jinns, the spirits that haunt the house - returned the Caliph's House to its former glory and learned to make this most exotic and alluring of countries their home. The Caliph's House is a story of home-ownership abroad - full of the attendant dramas, anxieties and frustrations - but it is also much more.

Woven into the narrative is the author's own journey of self-discovery, of learning about a grandfather he hardly knew, and of coming to love the magical, multi-faceted, contradictory country that is Morocco. Passar bra ihop.

Casablanca Blues, paperback Tahir Shah. Timbuctoo Tahir Shah. In Arabian Nights Tahir Shah.

The Caliph's House & In Arabian Nights: Book Review {17 & 18 of 52}

Of course he does. Listen to him rhapsodize about Moroccan oranges. He offers tips if you are ever invited to dine in a Moroccan home. Can't top his memory of his father's prized Arabian Nights collection - " The volumes were bound in waxy black cloth, with bright gold lettering on the spines They were so exquisite that I would caress my fingers over them, and stoop down to smell their scent.

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They smelled like cloves. What happens to those volumes is astounding - but you'll have to read the book to find out! You can read the sequel first if you prefer. Would love to hear your tips about Moroccan food, a recommended cookbook or novel, or a restaurant.

Do you have any stories about jinns, fairies, elves?