List of Characters
Ruma—a young Bengali woman trained as a lawyer.
Adam—her Caucasian American husband.
Akash—Adam and Ruma's young son.
Ruma's father—a retired Bengali widower.
Mrs. Meenakshi Bagchi—the Bengali woman Ruma's father starts seeing after his wife dies.
Pranab Chakraborty/ Also called Pranab Kaku (uncle)—the Bengali friend of the narrator's family.
Deborah—Prenab's American girlfriend and eventual wife.
Usha—the female narrator, just a girl when Pranab enters her family's life.
Boudi—Usha's mother, who longs hopelessly for Pranab.
Matty—Deborah's little brother, who Usha gets high with at their wedding.
"A Choice of Accommodations"
Amit Sarkar—the lead male character, and the reason the couple are attending Pam Borden's wedding.
Megan—Amit's wife, a doctor.
Pam Borden—Amit's friend from childhood, she'd been a girl who reigned over and guided the boys when they were young.
Headmaster Borden—Pam's father, and the one who asked his daughter to watch over Amit.
Mr. Nagle—Amit's former English teacher and advisor at Langford.
Felicia—a friend of Pam's who plans to marry. Amit offends her by speaking honestly about his marriage.
Ted Schultz—Amit's old classmate, whom he offends by forgetting his name.
Sudha Mukherjee—the female lead in the story, first the less successful sister, then the mother and near salvation of the family.
Rahul Mukherjee—Sudha's alcoholic brother.
Elaine—Rahul's older girlfriend, a waitress and would be actress.
Roger Featherstone—Sudha's husband. Older, British, and an editor at an art magazine.
Neel—Sudha's baby boy.
Sang—a young Bengali woman who's dropped out from Harvard and is going through a relationship.
Paul—a doctoral student whose failed first exam unbalances him, making him hesitant.
Heather—Paul and Sang's housemate, a single law student at Boston College.
Charles—Sang's friend who helps her move in.
Farouk—also known as Freddy, Sang's rather self-important and prissy lover.
Dierdre Farn—Freddy's lover, Dierdre calls repeatedly and often drunkenly.
Part Two: "Hema and Kaushik."
"Once in a Lifetime"
Dr. Choudhuri—Kaushik's father.
Parul Choudhuri—Kaushik's mother, more glamorous than Hema's, and dying of breast cancer.
Hema—a young girl, caught between cultures and pushed to the side by parental hospitality.
Kausik—a teenager, quiet, isolated, forever taking pictures and angry about the situation.
Hema's mother and father—Bengalis of lower class than Kaushik's parents, and less stylish.
Dr. Choudhuri—Kaushik's father, now a lonely widower who drinks too much.
Chitra—a widowed school teacher who marries Dr. Choudhuri.
Rupa—Chitra's ten-year-old daughter.
Piu—Chitra's seven-year-old daughter.
Kaushik—now a senior at Swarthmore.
Hema—now a classics scholar in her thirties.
Navin—the physics PhD she agrees to marry.
Julian Hema's long term married lover, he led her on for years, claiming he would be free.
Edo—a friend of a friend of Hema’s who invites her to dinner.
Paola—Edo's wife who works with Kaushik and invites him to dinner.
Kaushik—now in his early forties, a news photographer specializing in tragic pictures.
Ruma is one of the main characters in "Unaccustomed Earth." The other is her father. The two of them are going through a massive reorganization of their relationship. They are each aware of some of the main reasons for these changes--her mother's death, her father's aging—but each is also changing for reasons the other does not know, or does not fully understand. Ruma's father surprises her by being more modern than she has realized. He is involved with a woman and travels frequently, two factors which free him from some expectations inculcated by his culture. Fundamentally changed by motherhood, Ruma has found herself reluctant to return to work. She is restless over the changes in both herself and her father and anxious to...
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