By-Two Kaapi in an oilfield

The weblog of Abhilash Ravishankar, India.

Here I blog about my personal experiences [posting rarely]

At my tumblelog Intoxicated by possibility I blog about my opinions/likes/dislikes [posting heavily]

The Zahir

It begins with a glimpse or a passing thought.
It ends with obsession.

I hated Paulo Coelho's 'The Alchemist'. But then, seeing this book lying by Tony's bedside, I did ask him how he rates the book. Though he went on to say that he didn't actually like or dislike 'The Alchemist', he found that 'The Zahir' was thoroughly different and much more interesting and engrossing. And then I read the back cover and the dedication page in the book. I knew it right then. That I had to read the book. So, now that Tony has gone to Kochi, I flicked it from his bedside and started reading it.

The most mesmerizing part in the book, IMHO, is the Islamic concept of 'Zahir'. The title comes from a tale by Jorge Luis Borges, published in his book The Aleph.
In Arabic Zahir means 'visible, present and unable to go unnoticed.' It refers to something or someone that ends up being the only thing we can think of. This state of 'possession' can be understood as saintliness or insanity, with a fine line between the two.
Luis Borges goes on to say in one of his short stories titled 'El Zahir':
Others will dream that I am mad, and I [will dream] of the Zahir. When all men on earth think day and night of the Zahir, which one will be a dream and which a reality, the earth or the Zahir?
The protagonist in 'The Zahir', an accomplished writer (this novel is supposed to be extremely autobiographical) finds out that his Zahir is his lovely wife who, one day, just leaves him and vanishes. And the book is all about his quest to understand his love and obsession for his wife.

A thin line between holiness and madness. I just love standing on these thin lines!


  1. Tony Sebastian said...
    um well fast reader huh?? ive been reading that for ages hvnt got past page 200!!
    guess "The Zahir" was ur Zahir for 2 days!! n i tol u Coelho is good!! :)
    Anonymous said...
    u hated the alchemist???? :O!!!
    Abhilash Ravishankar said...
    Yeah, felt it was more like a cross between a self-help book and a fairy tale!
    Abhilash Ravishankar said...
    That's true. It all depends on the frame of mind. And one more thing that I don't buy is Coelho's philosophy. I don't agree with many of his points in both the Alchemist and the Zahir. I am more of an Objectivist. But, yeah, these days getting into Surrealism as well!
    caSHmereLoveJohnson said...
    i also have a blog here ... and i mentioned the zahir recently ... i understand many people are put off by coehlo's work ... and i am one of those fans ... but i do not think these are coehlo's philosophies ... his ideas about love, faith, signs, spirit etc. are drawn from spiritual traditions that already exist ... sometimes he overlaps accidentally ... but are there any accidents in the universe? did i accidentally stumble upon your blog? perhaps perhaps ... i choose to believe not.
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    Unknown said...
    Probably my favorite book ever. Shows the vision that we lose as we get older. that is beautiful to find again. Good job Paulo.
    Pizza Accessories said...
    Gratteful for sharing this

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