The Buddha of Suburbia

by

Hanif Kureishi

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Haroon (Dad) Character Analysis

Dad is a middle-aged Indian man. He's exceptionally proud of his wide and hairy chest, though he's very short. He came to England in the 50s with his best friend, Anwar. Though he technically came to study law, Dad spent most of his time in the bars drinking and eventually dropped out of school to become a civil service clerk. After he married Mum, Dad became extremely interested in Eastern philosophy. Dad grew up in a wealthy family and doesn't know how to do anything for himself, which frustrates both Mum and Karim to no end. Dad finally gets to truly live out his Eastern philosophical ideas when he meets Eva and begins a relationship with her. She facilitates "appearances" for him, where he guides white upper-middle class people in yoga and meditation. Karim is fascinated by all of this and starts to call his father God when he sees the kind of power Dad has over people. Karim begins to hate Dad when he decides to leave Mum for Eva. Karim blames Dad for ruining his family and hurting Mum, and he believes Dad's happiness with Eva comes at the expense of Mum's happiness. Dad isn't thrilled with Karim's desire to be an actor and is especially upset when he sees Karim perform in The Jungle Book. Near the end of the novel, Karim finally begins to see Dad as a real person, not just a father figure. Dad quits his job as a clerk and begins counseling unhappy young people in Eastern philosophy and seems to finally come into himself. When Karim takes his family out to a fancy restaurant to celebrate getting a job on a TV show, Dad announces that he and Eva are getting married.

Haroon (Dad) Quotes in The Buddha of Suburbia

The The Buddha of Suburbia quotes below are all either spoken by Haroon (Dad) or refer to Haroon (Dad). 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:
Coming of Age Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin edition of The Buddha of Suburbia published in 1991.
Part 1, Chapter 1 Quotes

But divorce wasn't something that would occur to them. In the suburbs people rarely dreamed of striking out for happiness. It was all familiarity and endurance: security and safety were the reward of dullness.

Related Characters: Karim (speaker), Haroon (Dad), Mum
Page Number: 8
Explanation and Analysis:

I put my ear against the white paintwork of the door. Yes, God was talking to himself, but not intimately. He was speaking slowly, in a deeper voice than usual, as if he were addressing a crowd. He was hissing his s's and exaggerating his Indian accent. He'd spent years trying to be more of an Englishman, to be less risibly conspicuous, and now he was putting it back in spadeloads. Why?

Related Characters: Karim (speaker), Haroon (Dad), Eva
Page Number: 21
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 1, Chapter 2 Quotes

If Mum was irritated by Dad's aristocratic uselessness, she was also proud of his family. "They're higher than the Churchills," she said to people...This ensured there would be no confusion between Dad and the swarms of Indian peasants who came to Britain in the 1950s and 1960s, and of whom it was said they were not familiar with cutlery and certainly not with toilets...

Related Characters: Karim (speaker), Mum (speaker), Haroon (Dad)
Page Number: 24
Explanation and Analysis:

"The whites will never promote us," Dad said. "Not an Indian while there is a white man left on the earth. You don't have to deal with them—they still think they have an Empire when they don't have two pennies to rub together."

Related Characters: Haroon (Dad) (speaker), Karim, Anwar
Page Number: 27
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 1, Chapter 4 Quotes

"Families aren't sacred, especially to Indian men, who talk about nothing else and act otherwise."

Related Characters: Jamila (speaker), Karim, Haroon (Dad), Anwar
Page Number: 55
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 1, Chapter 8 Quotes

Watching this, I was developing my own angry theories of love. Surely love had to be something more generous than this high-spirited egotism-à-deux? In their hands love seemed a narrow-eyed, exclusive, selfish bastard, to enjoy itself at the expense of a woman who now lay in bed in Auntie Jean's house, her life unconsidered. Mum's wretchedness was the price Dad had chosen to pay for his happiness. How could he have done it?

Related Characters: Karim (speaker), Haroon (Dad), Eva, Mum
Page Number: 116
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 2, Chapter 14 Quotes

But I did feel, looking at these strange creatures now—the Indians—that in some way these were my people, and that I'd spent my life denying or avoiding that fact. I felt ashamed and incomplete at the same time, as if half of me were missing, and as if I'd been colluding with my enemies, those whites who wanted Indians to be like them.

Related Characters: Karim (speaker), Haroon (Dad), Anwar
Page Number: 212
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 2, Chapter 15 Quotes

You go all your life thinking of your parents as these crushing protective monsters with infinite power over you, and then there's a day when you turn round, catch them unexpectedly, and they're just weak, nervous people trying to get by with each other.

Related Characters: Karim (speaker), Haroon (Dad), Mum
Page Number: 228
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 2, Chapter 18 Quotes

"We have to empower ourselves. Look at those people who live on sordid housing estates. They expect others—the Government—to do everything for them. They are only half human, because only half active. We have to find a way to enable them to grow. Individual human flourishing isn't something that either socialism or conservatism caters for."

Related Characters: Eva (speaker), Karim, Haroon (Dad)
Page Number: 263
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Buddha of Suburbia PDF

Haroon (Dad) Character Timeline in The Buddha of Suburbia

The timeline below shows where the character Haroon (Dad) appears in The Buddha of Suburbia. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1, Chapter 1
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
...as restless, easily bored, and looking for trouble. One day when he's seventeen, his father, Haroon, comes home from work in a good mood—an unusual event. Dad greets Mum, Karim, and... (full context)
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When Karim hands Dad the towel, Dad falls to his knees, kicks up into a headstand, and explains that... (full context)
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Mum comes upstairs and immediately looks suspicious, as Dad hasn't practiced yoga for months: she knows something is up. Karim describes Mum as a... (full context)
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Dad asks Karim to fetch a yoga book and read from it out loud. Karim fetches... (full context)
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Karim offers to go with Dad to Eva's, trying his best to sound like he'd be doing Dad a favor. Dad... (full context)
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Karim guides Dad the four miles on the bus to Eva's house and explains to the reader that... (full context)
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Karim persuades Dad to stop off at a pub for a beer on the way and leads him... (full context)
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Dad confides in Karim that he's scared for his speaking engagement. When they arrive at Eva's,... (full context)
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...that he never thought Charlie would be at home. Charlie comes down the stairs, greets Dad by his first name, and accompanies the group into the living room. (full context)
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...and does outrageous things like bring Charlie and his girlfriend breakfast in bed. She picks Dad up regularly for their writer's group and when she does, she makes sure to ask... (full context)
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Karim watches as Dad sits with the couples on the floor. He thinks that the couples seem to be... (full context)
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Karim curses, but Charlie tells Karim to watch. Dad leads the group in a few yoga poses and then asks them to lie down... (full context)
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...pulling off her caftan. Karim can see that Eva only has one breast, and that Dad is underneath her wailing with pleasure. Dad laughs and Karim thinks that he doesn't know... (full context)
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Suddenly, Karim hears something and turns around to see Dad's head poking through the trapdoor. Charlie zips his pants back up as both Dad and... (full context)
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...make her a bed on the couch so that she doesn't have to sleep with Dad. Karim feels bad for Mum but wonders why she can't just fight back and be... (full context)
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For the next week, Dad refuses to speak. He mimes and points to things, and Mum cries in frustration. Karim... (full context)
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...Karim terms "the Great Sulk," he opens up Mum's sketchpad. He finds a drawing of Dad and Eva, naked. Eva is drawn slightly larger than Dad, and Karim wonders how Mum... (full context)
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...thinks that it would be interesting if Eva called the house, as it would test Dad's silence. When the phone rings, Karim makes sure to get there first. Eva interrogates Karim... (full context)
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A few weeks later, Dad calls Karim to his room and invites Karim to attend his "appearance" that night. Dad... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 2
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Karim backs up and explains how Dad came to be in England. Dad grew up in Bombay next door to his best... (full context)
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Dad didn't realize how complicated life is: he'd never cooked or cleaned before coming to England.... (full context)
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While Anwar studied aeronautical engineering, Dad purchased bowties and waistcoats and spent his time in the pub instead of studying law.... (full context)
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Dad's monthly allowance from India was cut off after his family realized he was drinking instead... (full context)
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Anwar would tell Dad to get a promotion, but Dad insisted that the white Londoners would never promote an... (full context)
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In the present, Karim leads Dad off the bus and around a wealthy neighborhood called Chiselhurst. Finally, Dad snaps that he's... (full context)
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Finally, Karim and Dad reach their destination. Dad explains that the house belongs to Carl and Marianne, who have... (full context)
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Karim remembers once when he asked Dad to tell him "the facts of life." Rather than say anything important, Dad had said... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 3
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...Ted and Jean as normal, unhappy alcoholics. They own a central heating business and call Dad Harry instead of Haroon. Dad calls them "Gin and Tonic" in retaliation. While Jean looks... (full context)
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...out why Ted and Jean are here tonight. He reasons that when Mum heard that Dad was appearing again, she called her sister Jean. Jean would've been angry and flown into... (full context)
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Karim explains that Dad and Ted actually like each other. Ted often confides in Dad about Jean's drinking or... (full context)
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Dad surveys the room in silence. Karim watches and wonders if Dad is just going to... (full context)
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When Karim and Dad get home, Mum is waiting for them in the hall. She's on the phone, presumably... (full context)
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...lavish parties during the summer. Karim and Allie always loved the parties, while Mum and Dad always looked out of place. This was partially because of their low status, but also... (full context)
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...she assumes that "this madness" is going to stop. Karim tries to tell Jean that Dad can do what he wants, but Jean insists that her livelihood will be affected if... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 4
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...is in his life to stay. He feels as though she's there while Mum and Dad watch TV at night, and he puzzles over whether Dad is meeting Eva during lunchtime.... (full context)
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Ted ignores Karim and takes Mum out to the garden, presumably to talk about Dad. When they're done talking Ted goes to the bedroom and barges in. Karim follows. Dad... (full context)
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Ted and Dad good-naturedly insult Karim's uselessness. Ted admits that Jean sent him to check on the Buddhism... (full context)
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Dad suddenly changes the subject and asks Ted about work. Dad gets up and pulls Ted's... (full context)
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After that incident, Karim begins to fear that Mum and Dad will murder each other. The following Saturday, he bikes to Anwar and Jeeta's shop to... (full context)
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...a walk and won't answer his questions about Anwar's whereabouts. Karim tells Jamila all about Dad and Eva, but he purposefully doesn't mention his experience with the Great Dane. When Karim... (full context)
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Anwar consulted Dad about the strange dowry, and Dad insisted that Anwar investigate the boy. Anwar ignored Dad... (full context)
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...Karim can't believe the things he's seeing people do all of their own accords—Ted's breakdown, Dad's relationship with Eva, and now Anwar's hunger strike—things that had nothing to do with outside... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 5
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...staking his life on Muslim beliefs, when he's never seemed very Muslim. Karim wonders if Dad's move towards Buddhism is at all similar, and he thinks that both men seem to... (full context)
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Dad confides that Eva is seeing other men, specifically Shadwell, whom she believes is going to... (full context)
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...about Charlie's dad, but Charlie says that there will be space at his house for Haroon. Karim is floored and thinks that he and Charlie will have committed incest. (full context)
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...bus stop and brainstorm what Jamila should do, and Helen suggests that they talk to Haroon. Jamila agrees, though when they arrive at Karim's house, she stares off as though she... (full context)
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Dad is lying on his bed listening to the radio when Karim, Jamila, and Helen enter... (full context)
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Later, when Karim, Jamila, and Helen knock on Dad's door again, they can hear Dad snoring. Helen suggests Dad's still meditating, but Jamila bangs... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 6
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Dad arrives at the party, dressed colorfully and looking exceptionally young next to Anwar. Helen asks... (full context)
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Outside, Dad tells Karim to get into Eva's car. Karim tries to refuse, but Dad insists. Karim... (full context)
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...Eva sends Karim upstairs to see Charlie. Karim is annoyed, but he sees Eva and Dad groping at each other as they fall back into a bedroom. He peeks his head... (full context)
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...he's not hurt. Downstairs a few minutes later, Eva wipes Karim's forehead as Charlie and Dad sit on the couch. Dad begins to explain that he and Eva are in love.... (full context)
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Karim asks what'll happen to his family, and asks what will happen to Mum. Dad gets up to go talk to her. Karim gets up too and walks outside. He... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 7
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When Karim gets home, Mum and Dad are in the bedroom and Allie is banging on their door. Ted and Jean arrive... (full context)
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...bathroom, Karim peeks at the sketch. When she returns, he informs her that she drew Dad, not him. Mum insists that fathers and sons look alike and says that Karim left... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 8
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Dad, yelling, asks Karim how he managed to fail all his exams. Karim insists it's easy... (full context)
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One day, Karim opens the door to Ted, tools in hand. Eva had heard from Dad that Ted was a builder, and made him an offer to remodel her house. Ted... (full context)
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...and wonders how Ted talks about all the fun they have and the romance between Dad and Eva. He says that they often don't get to see too much of the... (full context)
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...her when they need it, though Karim thinks they're in dire need of it now. Dad agrees with Eva but begins doing "guru gigs" again, which Eva now charges people to... (full context)
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Karim watches the romance between Dad and Eva grow. When he watches them speak, he realizes the words themselves don't matter;... (full context)
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...her house and move to London, and Karim suspects she wants to try to distract Dad from his misery about Mum. It's a futile attempt; Karim recounts being in the car... (full context)
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As Dad and Karim pack Charlie's attic, they discuss that Charlie's problem is that his band doesn't... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 9
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...them. Karim sleeps on the couch and Charlie sleeps on the floor when he visits. Dad is disgusted by his new home, but Eva is thrilled. (full context)
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...throw a flat-warming party first. Eva is secretive about the guest list and only allows Dad to invite two people from his meditation group. She invites Shadwell and all of his... (full context)
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...Karim is beyond embarrassed and can barely listen as Shadwell asks Karim how Eva and Dad's relationship is going. Karim tries to steer the conversation back to The Jungle Book. Shadwell... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 10
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When rehearsals begin, Karim moves back in with Dad and Eva. He loves the hard work of acting, and explains that Shadwell wants a... (full context)
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...an artistic persona. Karim observes that Eva is successful in climbing higher and higher, while Dad seems oblivious to it all. This leads to fights, as Eva insists that Dad needs... (full context)
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One night, Karim comes home to find Charlie in Eva and Dad's bedroom, dressed in black and safety pins. He has a swastika painted on his shirt.... (full context)
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...with pride. They go dancing afterwards and Karim is thrilled at Mum's happiness. Karim invites Dad, Eva, Jamila, and Changez to the opening night, and nobody looks happy afterwards. Dad informs... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 12
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When Karim gets home, Dad is busy writing. Karim realizes that he's beginning to see Dad as a separate person,... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 13
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...have sex and he allows his mind to carry him back to the night of Dad's first appearance. He thinks of Charlie and how Charlie is now famous, and how Karim... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 14
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Karim and Jamila spend every day with Anwar, but Dad refuses to go. He and Anwar had fallen out after he left Mum, though Karim... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 15
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...love it. When Karim goes to the foyer after the show, he sees Mum and Dad talking. He thinks that they look old and, for the first time, like real people.... (full context)
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...through and through. Karim insists it's just a job as Mum goes on to insult Dad and Eva. (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 16
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...who only understand things halfway, like Terry, drive him crazy. He thinks of one of Dad's meditation students who only spoke about things he had practical experience with. Terry invites Karim... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 17
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...Charlie, but his depression worsens. Karim wonders why he doesn't hurt himself and thinks of Dad. He thinks that Dad had always felt superior to the British and taught Karim that... (full context)
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...other, and Karim is shocked to see that Charlie is open and enthusiastic. He remembers Dad's first appearance when he and Charlie had sex, but Charlie had been closed then. (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 18
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Karim visits Dad and Eva to share his news. He dresses in a cashmere sweater and corduroy pants,... (full context)
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Eva and Karim enter the living room, and Dad gets up to embrace Karim. Dad is wearing a neck brace. Karim remembers how, when... (full context)
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...in unnatural poses. The woman asks Eva about her philosophy on life. Eva looks to Dad, sits next to him, and begins to explain that before she met Dad, she was... (full context)
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Karim remembers how Dad used to be pompous all the time and thinks he likes listening to Eva dominate... (full context)
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...Karim that he loves his work and that Eva saved him. Karim reminds Ted that Dad saved him, but Ted continues and asks Karim if he's living an untrue life. Eva... (full context)
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Karim admits that everything went crazy after Mum and Dad broke up. Allie angrily says that he doesn't have time for people like Dad who... (full context)
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When Karim goes to see Dad a few days later, Dad is in the middle of counseling a crying young man.... (full context)
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Dad asks about Mum and seems shocked to hear that Mum is doing well and seeing... (full context)
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That night, Karim takes Dad, Eva, Allie, and Allie's girlfriend out to dinner to celebrate his new job. He also... (full context)
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...and please others with money. When everyone is drunk, Eva stands and asks for attention. Dad smiles at everyone, and Eva seems nervous to make her announcement. Finally, Dad announces for... (full context)