And the Mountains Echoed

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Dr. Idris Bashiri Character Analysis

An Afghan immigrant who works as a doctor in the United States, Dr. Idris Bashiri is a quiet, shy, and somewhat self-righteous young man. He resents his cousin, Timur Bashiri, for being more successful and confident than he is. When Idris visits Afghanistan in the mid-2000s, he develops a close friendship with Roshana, a young girl whom he meets in a hospital. While he plans to use his power and medical influence to save Roshana’s life, Idris’s ease of lifestyle in his adopted country ultimately distracts him from helping Roshana, and causes him tremendous guilt and self-hatred.

Dr. Idris Bashiri Quotes in And the Mountains Echoed

The And the Mountains Echoed quotes below are all either spoken by Dr. Idris Bashiri or refer to Dr. Idris Bashiri . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Interconnectedness Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Riverhead Books edition of And the Mountains Echoed published in 2014.
Chapter 5 Quotes

It’s true. Timur has embarrassed him. He has behaved like the quintessential ugly Afghan-American, Idris thinks. Tearing through the war-torn city like he belongs here, backslapping locals with great bonhomie and calling them brother, sister, uncle, making a show of handing money to beggars from what he calls the Bakhsheesh bundle, joking with old women he calls mother and talking them into telling their story into his camcorder as he strikes a woebegone expression, pretending he is one of them, like he’s been here all along, like he wasn’t lifting at Gold’s in San Jose, working on his pecs and abs, when these people were getting shelled, murdered, raped. It is hypocritical, and distasteful. And it astonishes Idris that no one seems to see through this act.

Related Characters: Dr. Idris Bashiri , Timur Bashiri
Page Number: 153-154
Explanation and Analysis:

In the fifth chapter of the book, we meet Idris and Timur, two cousins who've returned to Kabul to reclaim their family's property in the city. Idris dislikes Timur for being extravagant and arrogant--Idris is a quiet, introverted sort, and doesn't like it when Timur makes a show of giving money to beggars or treating strangers like family.

The strange thing about the passage is that nothing Idris describes Timur doing sounds all that bad: Timur gives money to beggars, befriends strangers, and generally tries to improve the lives of people he doesn't know. The only reason Idris offers to dislike Timur is that Timur is "showy," an impression that, for all we know, could be exaggerated or wrong. Idris seems to resent Timur for caring about Afghanistan to an extent that Idris himself can never match. Idris wasn't any more involved with the war in Afghanistan than Timur--part of the reason that Idris dislikes Timur is that Timur reminds him of his own indifference to his own country.

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“We leave in a week, bro. You don’t want to get her too attached to you.” Idris nods. He wonders if Timur may not be slightly jealous of his relationship with Roshi, perhaps even resentful that he, Idris, may have robbed him of a spectacular opportunity to play hero. Timur, emerging in slow motion from the blazing building, holding a baby. The crowd exploding in a cheer. Idris is determined not to let Timur parade Roshi in that way.

Related Characters: Timur Bashiri (speaker), Dr. Idris Bashiri , Roshana
Page Number: 162-163
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Idris engages in a subtle battle of egos with his cousin, Timur. Idris has developed a close relationship with a young girl named Roshi. Idris thinks that Timur is advising Idris to avoid Roshi because Timur is jealous of Idris's generosity. But in fact, it's suggested, Idris is only befriending Roshi because of his own jealousy of Timur's generosity--Idris thinks of Timur as the petty, jealous cousin, when in fact Idris fits exactly such a description.

It's further implied that Idris is more interested in outshining his cousin than he is in helping another human being. One could say that Idris is meant to represent the narrowness of generosity in the Western world. A well-educated, wealthy man, Idris thinks of himself as a "good" person, even though he's clearly petty, jealous, and generally guilty about his own lack of compassion for other people. Idris tries to show compassion for Roshi, but ends up mostly just being jealous and apathetic.

He is not a criminal. Everything he owns he has earned. In the nineties, while half the guys he knew were out clubbing and chasing women, he had been buried in study, dragging himself through hospital corridors at two in the morning, forgoing leisure, comfort, sleep. He had given his twenties to medicine. He has paid his dues. Why should he feel badly? This is his family. This is his life.
In the last month, Roshi has become something abstract to him, like a character in a play. Their connection has frayed. The unexpected intimacy he had stumbled upon in that hospital, so urgent and acute, has eroded into something dull. The experience has lost its power. He recognizes the fierce determination that had seized him for what it really was, an illusion, a mirage.

Related Characters: Dr. Amra Ademovic (speaker), Dr. Idris Bashiri (speaker), Roshana (speaker)
Page Number: 178
Explanation and Analysis:

Idris had befriended a child named Roshi during his time in Afghanistan. After promising to take care of the child, Idris has returned to the United States, and is in the process of forgetting about Roshi altogether amidst all his other responsibilities. Hosseini describes the ways that Idris tries to justify his own apathy: Idris tells himself that he's "earned" the right to be selfish by working hard at medical school for many years (even though the link between studying and being compassionate is by no means obvious).

In this passage Hosseini shows another example of the way memory and forgetfulness affect people's lives. Idris had felt genuine compassion for Roshi at first, but as her memory fades, so too does his resolve, and in the end he turns out to have acted callously and selfishly.

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Dr. Idris Bashiri Character Timeline in And the Mountains Echoed

The timeline below shows where the character Dr. Idris Bashiri appears in And the Mountains Echoed. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 4
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...longer a young man (he’s about forty). Mr. Bashiri, Wahdati’s neighbor, has had a child, Idris, and his brother has also had a boy, named Timur. One day, while Wahdati and... (full context)
Chapter 5
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Amra Ademovic stands in the wing of a vast Afghan hospital, speaking to Idris and Timur (two characters Nabi mentioned in the previous chapter). Idris has just returned to... (full context)
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Idris, Timur, and Amra stand in the hospital, surveying a young girl named Roshana, who is... (full context)
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Amra asks Timur and Idris what they’re doing in this hospital in Kabul. Timur explains: he and Idris are cousins,... (full context)
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Timur and Idris have been sent to Kabul by Idris’s uncle (Timur’s father). Timur’s father wants his son... (full context)
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Timur and Idris have arrived at Mr. Wahdati’s home, prepared for the party Amra mentioned. The house is... (full context)
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The party proceeds. Idris is uneasy, as he always is at parties. To his surprise, Amra greets him and... (full context)
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Amra explains to Idris what will happen to Roshana, the young girl in the hospital. Roshana lived with her... (full context)
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...ahead to the next day. Timur wants to go to the town of Istalif, but Idris refuses, claiming to have a bad hangover. After Timur leaves, Idris finds a cab and... (full context)
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Idris arrives at the hospital, carrying a box. He makes his way through the halls to... (full context)
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Halfway through the film, the power goes out, and Idris decides to leave the hospital. As he leaves, he runs into Roshana’s maternal uncle (not... (full context)
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Idris develops a routine of visiting the hospital to see Roshana. He brings Roshana presents, and... (full context)
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Idris is sitting on a plane back to the United States, next to Timur. Timur brags... (full context)
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Idris returns to the U.S. and reunites with Nahil, his wife. Idris is overjoyed to see... (full context)
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In the next few days, Idris is quiet and thoughtful. He asks Nahil if she thinks they need so much “stuff”... (full context)
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Idris resumes his work. He’s extremely busy—overbooked for the next two weeks. His chief, Joan Schaeffer,... (full context)
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Later in the week, Idris approaches Joan Schaeffer about Roshana’s operation. He explains the circumstances, and asks her if American... (full context)
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The weeks go on, and Idris begins to concern himself more and more with his material needs. He installs a home... (full context)
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The narrative cuts ahead by six years. Idris is standing in line at a bookstore, holding a book. The book, ghostwritten by a... (full context)
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It’s revealed that Idris is standing in a book-signing line, and he’s only a few feet away from Roshana.... (full context)
Chapter 9
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...she’s very nervous—she hasn’t seen her brother in 58 years. Pari II remembers something that Idris Bashiri, Abdullah’s doctor, told her: Abdullah needs stability in his life, rather than sudden surprises. (full context)