NINA to ANJU: "I'm not interested in having my palm read and I don't believe in it anyway…What if it's all terrible? I mean what’s the point of getting miserable about something before it actually happens? I mean I don't want to know that I'm gonna end up fat and living in some trailer park in Iowa."

NINA is bright and beautiful, strong-headed and promiscuous. She uses sex as a shield and a weapon against intimacy with the American men who attract her. She's a rebel who battles against the Hindu values of her mother. With both feet firmly planted in American culture, she detests the Indian custom of arranged marriages and refuses to meet Indian men, believing their old world ways have nothing to offer her.

Then she meets Ashok, a childhood friend who has recently arrived in America. Nina is attracted to Ashok’s gentle, spiritual way and finds herself opening up to him and to love. Then Sam, her American ex-boyfriend, reenters her life and Nina finds herself torn between past and present, between her need for acceptance in American society and her need for true love.

RAJ to BRIAN: "There's this Indian kid who doesn't speak a word of English, has this greasy oily hair, smells like fucking Calcutta in August looking up at me with these innocent, woebegone cow eyes…Duckshes. That was his name, all the other kids called him Duck Shit."

Raj is Nina’s brother and her polar opposite in personality. He is quietly intelligent and emotionally reserved. A mama's boy, he long ago agreed to an arranged marriage to Tejal, a sweet and trusting Indian woman. Though he has agreed to marry her, Raj refuses to set a wedding date.

When Julia, a young American woman, joins the firm, Raj is immediately drawn to her easy going American ways. They connect immediately and Raj feels the dam breaking within. Raj's choice between Julia and Tejal is tinged with danger. He feels deeply affectionate towards Tejal but does not love her. Yet he realizes that a break up with Tejal would destroy her life—afterward, no other conservative Indian boy would touch her.

At his job, Raj is a successful mid-level accountant, and he works diligently towards a promotion he knows he deserves, but at the last minute is passed over for a less gifted accountant, his best friend Brian. Raj feels that his race may be the reason he was passed over, but he has no proof.

ANJU thinking out loud to her dead husband: "With the children gone this house is a very quiet place. And without you, I am lonely all the time. It’s the memories that keep me alive but sometimes the memories are just not enough. Why did you go first. You were suppose to be the strong one. I try but I just cannot manage alone..."

Anju is Raj and Nina's old and widowed mother, she desperately clings to her children, attempting to control their lives at every turn. Her old world ideas and traditional Hindu values clash with the world outside her home and keep her children at a distance.

Though Raj and Nina genuinely love her, they can only yearn to live their lives without her interference. She constantly confronts Nina about her promiscuity, and believes, all evidence to the contrary, that her daughter will ultimately come around and find a suitable Indian boy. She pushes Raj hard for the promotion that he will never get, and ignores the overly long engagement of Raj and Tejal, looking forward unrealistically to their wedding day.

In the end, fate forces Raj and Nina to make their decisions. And the paths they choose not only changes their lives forever, but have startling consequences for all around them.

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