chapter  1
14 Pages

Discovering a story


In the spring of 1964 I was a doctoral student at the Institute of Social Anthropology, (technically Somerville College), a part of Oxford University in England. Having just completed a B.Litt., I was now ready to set off for two years in the field. I had been told to “immerse myself ” in the culture of a strange land, in my case a Tamil-speaking village in south India. That was the route to a membership badge that would later gain me acceptance into the world-wide club of academic professionals. It was whispered quietly in the Institute’s dark halls that completing one’s research alone, abroad … for two years … was the initiation ritual required of all serious anthropologists. The rumor mongers were right!