Memoir: Return to India

Shoba Narayan (MHC Foreign Fellow ’86-88) came to America to study all the subjects she never got to back home in India–theater with Jim Cavanaugh, music composition with Allan Bondi, and sculpture with Leonard DeLonga. Like many others before her, she fell under the spell of DeLonga’s unorthodox teaching methods, and took up sculpture full-time. Shoba then went on to pursue an MFA in sculpture, followed by a journalism degree from Columbia University. She writes about food, travel, fashion, art and culture for many publications, including Condenast Traveler (US edition), The National, Financial Times, Destinasian, Gourmet, Time and Silkroad,  among others.  She is the  author of  Monsoon Diary: a memoir with recipes (2003: Random House). which was a finalist for a James Beard Award.  Her latest book, Return to India, an excerpt of which appears below, was just published by Rupa Press and is available via Amazon.com.  Shoba currently lives with her husband and daughters in India.

Quatrina Hossain came to receive me at Bradley International Airport. I’ll never forget her. She herded the three international students who were arriving on different flights into the van that Mount Holyoke had sent. Q, as she introduced herself, was from Pakistan and chatted brightly about the college and life there during the forty-five minute drive to South Hadley. With me was Emilie Ngongijol from Cameroon, and again, it is funny how vividly I remember her. We stared outside at the fading sunlight and the unvarying green scenery bordering the highway. It was dark when we reached the college.

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