In her debut, memoirist and anthropologist Enslin writes of her experiences marrying a high-caste Brahman man, giving birth and living with his family on the central plains of Nepal.
While earning her doctorate from Stanford University, the author altered her course after meeting Pramod, a student from Nepal. Originally slated to study African culture for her thesis, she changed her focus to India so that she and Pramod could conduct their anthropology fieldwork together. They briefly visited Nepal to meet his family and then returned to the United States to marry and finish their coursework. After her unexpected pregnancy constrained her fieldwork, Enslin shifted her focus to Nepali women’s political movements. She lived with her in-laws off and on for the next eight years, and cultural differences became tantamount as she was exposed to caste distinctions. Aama, Pramod’s mother, became a central figure in the author’s life, telling stories, creating songs, learning to read, mediating disputes and almost running for political office. She smoothed Enslin’s transition into the family and her new homeland. The author opens a window on a multigenerational rural family, showing how outside tensions and upheaval affect them. With an anthropologist’s eye, she describes weddings, childbirth and women’s gatherings. Her observations have been honed by years of daily chores and family intimacy, and she conveys the difficulties in fitting into her husband’s home and adapting to Nepali culture while earning a doctorate and preparing for the birth of her son. “I remembered my research filtered through a haze of poor planning, pregnancy, sleeplessness, and mild postpartum depression,” she writes. The author also includes a helpful glossary of Nepali words at the end of the book.
An insider’s view of the struggles inherent in any attempt to straddle different cultures.