Saturday, November 3, 2007

DBKP Interview with Marcus Wilder: Paradise Not Only 72 Virgins But "Boys Like Pearls"

Not Only Will "Boys like Pearls" be Provided,
They'll be "Refreshed"?!?

A new book is out on Pakistan and it might raise a few eyebrows--both in the United States and in Pakistan. "Naive and Abroad: Pakistan, Travel in a Land of Mullahs" just came out and Death by 1000 Papercuts had a chance to sit down (in the blogosphere sense) with author, Marcus Wilder. We recruited Noblesse Oblige's Pakistan Powerhouse, Thanos, to join us in questioning the author on his travels and stays throughout Pakistan.

It proved to be both interesting and informative.

MONDOREB: Welcome Marcus to the Land of 1000 Papercuts!

MARCUS WILDER: Thank you for this opportunity.

MONDO: No problem. Let's do it!

LITTLE BABY GINN: What place in your book would you most like to return to and why?

MW: Peshawar, without question. Peshawar is the most interesting city I have seen in a lifetime of travel. I saw Bali before the runways were lengthened to serve 707s. I saw Bangkok before the boom. I knew the
Mexico of the 1950s, the Madrid of the 1960s. Peshawar tops these and everywhere else I've been. Peshawar is a place to hang out.

THANOS: Which group is more feared in
Pakistan, The Taliban, or the ISI [The Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence] ?

MW: I do not think the peoples of the NWFP [Northwest Frontier Province] fear in the sense we know fear. A Pathan's attitude is that HE is the one to be feared.

The ISI is by far most powerful WHERE THAT POWER CAN BE APPLIED but I did not sense the ISI is feared. In those societies, today's enemy is tomorrow's friend is the next day's enemy. In the book I write that the Pathan's loyalties shift with the mountain wind. The Gabby Afghan was an ISI agent, just doing his job.
[NOTE: The Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (also Inter-Services Intelligence or ISI) is the largest and most powerful intelligence service in Pakistan. It is one of the three main branches of Pakistan's intelligence agencies. From Wikipedia.]

Pakistan's Northwest Frontier Province

GINN: Which place has changed the most due to Islamist violence?

MW: The Northwest Frontier Province. These have been violent places for as long as anyone knows, but the Afghan war and now Al-Queda brought efficiency to the violence...better tools for violence...more reasons for violence. Not everyone is displeased. Perhaps the more things
change, the more they stay the same.

GINN: Which place would you not want to return to?

MW: Chitral. There is nothing there. I might consider using Chitral as a base for exploring more remote areas. I do not speak well of Chitral in the book.

MONDO: What comment on everyday life in Pakistan can you offer?

MW: I would use this opportunity to talk of the burkah. The purpose of the burkah is to prevent arousing uncontrollable urges
in passing men. Presumably, women cannot be expected to resist these uncontrollably urged men. In fairness, rape is common - burkah or no burkah.

To prove rape, a woman must have four male witnesses. Since the male witnesses are invariably the rapists, this defense tactic never works. If there are not four male witnesses to testify for her, the woman is blamed. She can be flogged. She can be stoned. At a minimum, her husband will beat her severely.

The burkah is not Islamic. Muslims adopted that custom from a primitive tribe they converted to Islam. The damage has been done.

MONDO: Advance publicity about "Naive and Abroad" speaks of this as an 'expose'. What does it expose? Anything in particular?

MW: That does not refer to an incident. The book began as a straightforward travel journal. I read the news daily - on the
Internet - in THE TELEGRAPH, THE TIMES, DER SPIEGEL (In English), THE GUARDIAN, THE NEW YORK TIMES, and THE INDEPENDENT. I read THE ECONOMIST weekly. As I worked on polishing the hand-written travel journal into a book, news articles from these publications kept popping up with information about aspects of Islam and Islamic societies. It was almost as if the book took itself out of my hands. A travel
journal grew into an exposé. What I read in newspapers forced outside reading. You see the result. The book turned itself into an exposé. I deny responsibility.

MONDO: We hear about how Muslims in the Middle East hate America and the eternal question in some quarters seems to be "Why do they hate us?" Did your travels shed some light on this?

MW: If I have a claim to understanding the peoples I met, I would say meeting the peoples...interacting with them as human beings...seeing that from their perspective their point of view is natural and right
gave me some understanding. I have seen up close - under friendly circumstances - how different they are from anyone we know in the West. They were unfailingly kind to me.

It is important to understand that many of these people hate Americans in the abstract, but all fall all over themselves to be kind to the American standing before them. Given the choice between getting a green card or going directly to Paradise, most would take the green card.

THANOS: Do you see the MMA adherents growing or shrinking in power?

MW: I am embarrassed to say I do know just now know what the MMA is.

: Do you have another interesting tid-bits your book offers to the reader; like your burkah information?

MW: Paradise.

GINN: Paradise?

MW: Not only will seventy-two female virgins be supplied in Paradise, but an unlimited number of boys like pearls as well. The virginity of the females will not be restored, but the boys will be "refreshed." I
never learned what women are promised in Paradise. Perhaps they get to be [one of] the seventy-two virgins.

GINN: What place in Pakistan most seemed like home?

MW: I felt at home - I would not have thought to use that expression, but it fits - in Peshawar, and in the villages. It is easy to feel at home where everyone likes you. Thank you for your question. It makes me think.

MONDO: Marcus, could you tell us a little about yourself? Your background or upbringing?

MW: I am street-fluent in Spanish and German, learned largely on the street. I was born in the Mexican border country of South Texas in 1937. My formative years were the 1950s, probably the best time ever to be a kid in what may have been the best place ever to be a kid. I had a bicycle, a horse, a .22, and room to roam. What more could a boy want, video games?

In the first grade, the Ursuline sisters taught me to love reading. Everything since can be directly or indirectly attributed to - or blamed on - that love of reading. Reading can lead anywhere. I love books, guns, horses, odd places, and beautifu, intelligent women.

I wish I could be as successful with beautiful, intelligent women as I am with guns and horses. Perhaps if I had as much practice with beautiful, intelligent women...

MONDO: Lots of guys would be lining up for that kind of practice. What kind of lifestyle do you lead now?

I have no TV, no cell phone, and no credit cards. My watch, my cameras
and my pen are precision mechanical devices from a more civilized time.

MONDO: Thank you Marcus. A storehouse of unique information about Pakistan, its people and the region in general. More than a travel book, more than a book on radical Islam: Naive and Abroad gives a rare glimpse into a way of life that may soon disappear. The book is Naive and Abroad: Pakistan, Travel in a Land of Mullahs by Marcus Wilder. It available from Amazon and as an ebook from iUniverse.

MW: Thank you.

The book promises "Adventure, Dry Humor, Daring Exposé, Keen Observation, Accurate Reporting, and Informed Commentary". DBKP thinks that is a fair assessment. We'd like to thank Thanos from Noblesse Oblige for his contributions.

Finally, the words any author wants to hear: This is a good read. Go buy the book!

[NOTE: The book is available at Amazon for $15.41,
discounted from $16.95. Any bookseller will order the book at full

The e-book is available for $6 - yes, six - from iUniverse in
their bookstore. The link is too long to use successfully here. To
save $9, the buyer will have to manually go to the iUniverse site and
click on their Bookstore tab, upper right.]
Want up-to-the-minute news and analysis of Pakistan?
Noblesse Oblige is what you're looking for.
See Thanos' comment #1 on this post for a bit of information to fill in some blanks on a few items here.


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