An Elegy of a Piece: Review of Pico Iyers’ Falling Off The Map

The name alone is enticing enough. It is the neatly packaged moniker which perfectly hooks the reader – in this case, me – who might be interested. I pointed at it for the boy minding the store. He labored out of his seat, and seeing what I was pointing at, said: “Do you really want to see it? Are you going to buy it? It’s really stuck in there; will be hard to get out. Why do you want it anyway?”

Looking for Shah Jalal

The avenue leading up to the mazaar was much wider than any other road I had yet seen in Sylhet. Cars were parked in a row along the middle of it as apposed to the side: it used a system of parking completely different than what I was used to. Stalls stood on both sides of the avenue, which gave the place the look of being more a peddler trap than the ascetic shrine the word mazaar conjured up in my mind.

Kotka Beach

The trail we walked through cut through a field, the jungle did not hold sway there. It was the plain of tall grasses and small shrubs; with singular trees the height of a tall man rising up like scrawny watchmen. A small woodpecker skipped over the bare ground about five meters ahead of us, pecking at the earth looking for grubs and maggots. When we got too close it would fly straight down the path, get some breathing room away from us—the pesky intruders into its realm. It kept doing so for a good twenty minutes before it got fed up and flew up irritably to the branches of a tree that overlooked the path, and waited for us to move past.