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From Dunes to Dior [Kindle Edition]

Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $4.99
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  • Length: 100 pages (estimated)
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Book Description

Winner of the Indie Book of the Day, September 2013.

Called everything from the world's richest to fattest nation, Qatar has been on the breakneck path towards change for several decades. The capital city Doha, is where our family of three has lived since 2005.

FROM DUNES TO DIOR is not the stuff of newspaper headlines (they made their money from oil! Thirty years ago everyone was living in tents!) but real life stories about being a South Asian American who lives here (no, I don't have to cover my hair, and yes, I can drive).

I had no idea that living the life of my dreams (including a husband and two precious babies) would coincide with the rapid development of one the smallest and safest countries in the world, an oasis of calm smack dab in the global hotspot of the Middle East.

Product Details

  • File Size: 322 KB
  • Print Length: 100 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0083AJ294
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #444,716 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
Which country in the Middle East is safe and hip and quirky? How does an ex-pat survive in a world completely unlike anything they know? Mo is one of those rare joyful writers who will walk with you through these answers. Her writing will pull you to the other side of the world, whether or not you've ever considered it deeply before. You'll embark on this adventure with her as she tells you, "I first heard about the kidney--shaped country of Qatar..."

Soon you'll be hooked and she'll pull you into this tiny Middle Eastern place with wit and love. For example, on the wonderful mix of cultural juxtapositions she makes the observation, "...between gorging on McDonald's and fasting during Ramadan, flashing Gucci shoes but covering your hair..."

Later, you'll delve into her intriguing experience with having a child abroad and she'll draw you into her world and her experience by telling you, "A person's exterior is the first frame of reference here. And if you do not fit into one neat category of race, as our son so effortlessly fails to do, then many of your interactions with strangers will be the fodder of endless conversation gaffes."

Mo is a gifted writer, but even more importantly, she is a gifted communicator. Her observations are timeless for any human trying to find their way abroad or at home.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unveiling a colorful canvas September 7, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
Having arrived in Qatar roughly at the same time as Mohanna, and sharing similar heritage, while also having been raised in a cosmopolitan, western influenced society, I found myself drawn to the author's stories, seeing my own experiences reflected in hers. From the strange questions at home about life in the Gulf, especially the perceptions of how women are treated, to the odd looks I would get as I moved around Doha, with locals and expatriates alike trying to figure out where I came from, Mohanna reminded me that I was not alone in those experiences.
As Qatar begins to take it's place on the international stage, the curiosity of the outside world is heightened in trying to figure out this lesser-known State.
The biographical accounts are lyrical, amusing at times, but exceptionally realistic. I found myself reminiscing and reflecting on my own experiences, as I read through the anecdotes. Now that I have returned to my home country, I often find myself longing and yearning for a return to the life I had there. Perhaps the withdrawal symptoms are natural, but through this book, I had the pleasure of revisiting my second home with all the glamour it offers in the obscene wealth and dust-clouded developmental challenges expatriates face on a daily basis.
Mohanna's reflections do not sand-blast the reality but in fact provide factual and blatant accounts of the deep fissures in Qatari local and expatriate society. She paints a clear picture of the rapidly transforming views and how she has observed and participated in bridging the divides in a fun and candid manner.
This is an absolute must-read for anyone currently living in the Gulf or planning to work and live there in the future. It is the quintessential guide to cultural acclimatization to life in Qatar and "disrobes" Doha, unveiling a colorful canvas, rather than the barren desert it is thought to be.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What's in a name? June 7, 2012
By Tony
Format:Kindle Edition
As a female South Asian American living in the Arabian Gulf, Mohana is ideally placed to open our minds to the subtle prejudices that help us simplify our complex world. From Dunes to Dior is an engaging view of how it feels to live in one of the fastest changing countries in the world. Mohana describes Qatar as `one the smallest and safest countries in the world, an oasis of calm smack dab in the global hotspot of the Middle East.'

Mohana travelled to Qatar (a country the size of the U.S. state of Connecticut) in 2005 to support one of the American universities setting up a branch campus in the capital Doha. Her story of establishing a life and career in the Arabian Desert is shared by thousands of immigrants who have relocated to the rapidly developing country, as many of the people living in Qatar are expatriate workers of multiple nationalities, including migrant workers from across South Asia to American and European professionals.

I was surprised at how little I knew about Qatar, although the tragic recent mall fire had brought the country back into the news. In our haste to get on with our lives it is all too easy to think Qatar must be a bit like Dubai - in the same way that Mohana found that people were constantly finding quick ways to `categorise' her.

Refreshingly positive about this ignorance, Mohana recalls she was made to feel rare, strange, special, and unique at middle and high school in North Florida. At college in North Carolina she felt `like a fly in a glass of milk' an anomaly. In Qatar has name advertises that she comes from India - but her Sri Lankan features cause confusion.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From Dunes to Dior July 11, 2012
By Tammie
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I ABSOLUTELY LOVED this book! It was fantastic and so true to life there. It brought back a lot of memories for me and I especially feel grateful for my time there and for making Qatari friends. It was an opportunity of a lifetime!!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Dry!
This wasn't what I expected. It was more about the author and her relationship to the indigenous people than about the country overall.
Published 17 months ago by June Mounter
1.0 out of 5 stars Not enjoy to read
very disappoint to buy this book, I am Chinese and never know Qatar before, I was expecting about Qatar's culture, wonderful memories about Qatar's people daily life rather than... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Mei Sun
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommended
I loved this book. I could relate to her experiences as a Western woman of color living in an Arab country. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Jessica Saba
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating!
Clear,insightful, compassionate writing...a joy to read and such a gift to ponder. If you have ever said to yourself "Why can't we all just get along?" ... Read more
Published 20 months ago by Carriewij
1.0 out of 5 stars I'll Pass
I'm confused by all the good reviews for this book. The author seemed really full of herself. I can't put my finger on what exactly it is that gives me this impression. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Tina Leggio
3.0 out of 5 stars Good book
Well written descriptive. Learned a lot about the Muslim culture. Also about the differences in people's attitudes. The author seems to be well versed in different cultures.
Published 22 months ago by sushir
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read!
This book takes the reader to a fascinating tour in the Middle East. Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar describes with humor her years living as an American/Indian young woman in Qatar and... Read more
Published 23 months ago by M Nickolas
3.0 out of 5 stars not what I was expecting
I'm a little baffled by the rave reviews for this book. It's okay, but nothing special. I was expecting something more about Qatar than the author, but I would say it's more of a... Read more
Published 23 months ago by Living The Dream
3.0 out of 5 stars Storyline problem
I did not enjoy this book as much as normal as I found there was no real story. It is interesting learning about the culture and life there but it seems like a bunch of short... Read more
Published 24 months ago by DD
2.0 out of 5 stars This is not a book
Although this is presented as a book, it really is more of a collection of essays, writings, blogs, or journaling hobbled together in the form of a book. Read more
Published on March 4, 2013 by DeeLadyEngineer
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More About the Author

Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar is a writer who has lived in Qatar since 2005. She has a PhD from the University of Florida with a focus on gender and postcolonial theory. Her dissertation project was published as Haram in the Harem (Peter Lang, 2009) a literary analysis of the works of three Muslim women authors in India, Algeria, and Pakistan. She is the creator and co-editor of five books in the Qatar Narratives series, as well as the Qatari Voices anthology which features essays by Qataris on modern life in Doha (Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Publishing, 2010). Her research has been published in numerous journals and anthologies.

She was the Associate Editor of Vox, a fashion and lifestyle magazine based in Doha and a winner of the She Writes We Love New Novelists competition. She has been a regular contributor for Variety Arabia, AudioFile Magazine, Explore Qatar, Woman Today, The Woman, Writers and Artists Yearbook, QatarClick, Expat Arrivals, Speak Without Interruption and Qatar Explorer. She hosted two seasons of the Cover to Cover book show on Qatar Foundation Radio.

Currently Mohana is working on a collection of essays related to her experiences as a female South Asian American living in the Arabian Gulf and a novel based in Qatar. She believes words can help us understand ourselves and others. Catch up on her latest via her blog or follow her on Twitter @moha_doha.

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