Page 101. " at tae kwon do practice today "

Tae kwon do is the national sport of South Korea, and the world’s most popular martial art. It encompasses self-defence and combat techniques of different kicks, punches and blocks, and sometimes incorporates meditation. Traditional tae kwon do was established in the 1950s and 1960s in the South Korean military, but has since developed into another form known as ‘sport tae kwon do’, which is practised as an Olympic sport and overseen by the World Taekwondo Federation.

Page 106. " the mighty host I had expected of your country was duly raised and dispatched "

US Army Scouts in Afghanistan
Creative Commons AttributionUS Army Scouts in Afghanistan - Credit: Staff Sgt. Brandon Aird
On 7th October 2001, the United States Armed Forces, together with the British Armed Forces and the Afghan United Front, began Operation Enduring Freedom in response to the terrorist attack of 11th September. The aim of the mission was to capture Osama Bin Laden and destroy al-Qaeda, which was based in Afghanistan. The conflict is still ongoing, with Barack Obama announcing a further deployment of 30,000 troops on 1st December 2009. He estimated a withdrawal date of 2014.

Page 107. " the Taliban’s threats of retaliation "


A Taliban border guard (331 * 500)
Public DomainA Taliban border guard - Credit: bluuurgh

The Taliban is an Islamist militia group, which held power in Afghanistan between September 1996 and December 2001, when it was overthrown by Operation Enduring Freedom. Whilst in power, the Taliban enforced Sharia law and became infamous for their treatment of women, who were forced to wear the burqa, denied education and frequently faced public flogging or execution for even the smallest transgressions.


The Taliban is still active, operating as an insurgent group in Afghanistan and northwest Pakistan, with a current estimated strength of around 36,000. They commit terrorist act against the people of Afghanistan; a United Nations report from 2009 held them responsible for 76% of the Afghan civilian casualties in that year.

Page 107. " the FBI was raiding mosques "

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is a federal criminal investigative body and internal intelligence agency of the United States. It operates within the United States and has attachés in US embassies worldwide. After 9/11 mistrust of Islam grew rapidly in the US, and there were rumours of raids on mosques and Muslim homes in search of suspicious persons – how much they are truthfully founded is indeterminate.

Page 109. " It was the seventies. Stagflation. "

Graph of the 1970s recession: Red Line is average GDP growth; Blue Line is percentage change in real GDP
Public DomainGraph of the 1970s recession: Red Line is average GDP growth; Blue Line is percentage change in real GDP - Credit: JayHenry
Between 1973 and 1975 the United States suffered a recession known as a stagflation – high levels of unemployment met with high levels of inflation. Causes included the costly Vietnam War, the 1973 oil crisis, the fall of the Bretton-Woods system and a high number of newly-industrialized countries competing with America. The effects on the country were estimated to have lasted for 20 years after the ‘official’ end of the recession in 1975.

Page 112. " Focus on the fundamentals "

Underwood Samson’s motto, Focus on the fundamentals, essentially means focusing on the fundamentals of the capitalist system – money and business. It is suggested that Changez is not a ‘reluctant fundamentalist’ of the Islamist variety, but a ‘reluctant fundamentalist’ of the Underwood Samson sort – he finds it ultimately impossible to reconcile himself to focusing entirely on these capitalist fundamentals.

Page 112. " the bombing of Afghanistan "

In the first three weeks of the war on Afghanistan, in October 2001, an estimated 3,000 bombs and missiles were dropped on the country. Civilian deaths caused by the war are unknown, but number amongst the thousands. The Guardian provides a detailed analysis of the bombing during these first three weeks of war.

Page 113. " I was reminded of the film Terminator "

Terminator is a 1984 science fiction action film, directed by James Cameron and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, both of whose film careers it helped to launch. The film is set in the post-apocalyptic world of 2029, where artificially intelligent machines are trying to exterminate the few remaining humans. Three sequels were made, the latest released in 2009.

Page 115. " the kebab of mutton, the tikka of chicken, the stewed foot of goat, the spiced brain of sheep! "

Traditional Chicken Tikka
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeTraditional Chicken Tikka - Credit: Kirti Poddar
All of these are traditional South Asian or Pakistani dishes, which the non-faint-hearted can try for themselves! It is worth noting that traditional chicken tikka is not the ‘tikka masala’ curry version popular in Britain, but skewers of spicy chicken which are grilled or barbecued.

Mutton Kebab Recipe

Chicken Tikka Recipe

Spicy Goat's Foot Recipe

Sheep Brain Masala Recipe

Page 116. " We built the Royal Mosque and Shalimar Gardens "


The Shalimar Gardens
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeThe Shalimar Gardens - Credit: Arfan Khan

Badshahi Mosque, Lahore
GNU Free Documentation LicenseBadshahi Mosque, Lahore - Credit: Ali Imran
The Royal Mosque in Lahore, more commonly known as the Badshahi Mosque or the King’s Mosque, is the second largest mosque in Pakistan and the fifth largest in the world. Built in 1673, its four marble and sandstone minarets are 4m taller than those of the Taj Mahal, and it can hold 100,000 people.


The Shalimar Gardens is a Persian Garden dating back to 1642. Arranged in terraces, the garden holds 410 fountains and is inspired by various areas of Pakistan and Asia. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is a popular tourist attraction in Lahore.

Page 116. " we built the Lahore fort "


Lahore Fort
Creative Commons AttributionLahore Fort - Credit: M. Umair

Also known as Shahi Qila, the Lahore fort is strategically placed along the ancient city walls, and acted as its defence. Built as far back as 800 AD, the fort was developed by every ruler since, and so displays a wide variety of astoundingly beautiful architecture and decoration. Along with the Shalimar Gardens, it has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Page 116. " when your country was still a collection of thirteen small colonies "

British Colonies in America 1763-1775
Public DomainBritish Colonies in America 1763-1775 - Credit: Historical Atlas by William R. Shepherd
America was originally thirteen British colonies on the Atlantic coast, which declared their independence in the American Revolution and so became the United States. The original colonies were Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, Connecticut, Massachusetts Bay, Maryland, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Virginia, New York, North Carolina, and Rhode Island and Providence. They declared their independence in and fought the British in the American War of Independence between 1775 and 1783, one hundred years after the Badshahi Mosque was built in Lahore.