This book is an absorbing and romantic description of the life of a South Asian, who lived and worked during the first half of the twentieth century in India and Pakistan, and later in North America. His is a picturesque account of the lifestyle, customs, and mores, classical cuisines, parental concerns, monsoon picnics, and play of love and marriage, all set in the traditional background represent by a three generational middle class family of pre-Partition Delhi.
The author goes on to describe the partition of the Indiana subcontinent which turned millions of people into refugees. He himself was among those who migrated to Pakistan bringing along hopes to serve his new homeland. With six years of government services during British rule, and seven with the giant Tata Steel Co., he started afresh with the Remingtons in Lahore, where he worked for a year. He then moved to the US and worked with the UN rising to the top executive level. He brings out the unique character of the UN civil service and its ‘invisible powers’, and gives a fascinating, insider’s description of UN practices and operations, both at the headquarters and out in UN field missions while visiting many countries of South and East Asia, the Middle East, and Africa.
The books ends with a portrayal of the pleasures and travails of retirement, in the life of an Asian immigrant to the West.
Habid Ahmed’s From South Asia to North America is a fascinating account of his journey from a somewhat modest middle class background in Delhi to the higher echelons of the United Nations. His style is precise and vivid, free of any deliberate embellishment, Yet he captivates his readers in a way not many professional writers can.