In her desire to embrace traditional Indian culture wholeheartedly Sally, an American, has decided to join her Indian husband on his funeral pyre regardless of the fact that such an act is, in fact, illegal in India. In committing sati she enlists the help of Mrs. Sen, a journalist from Delhi, to record the momentous event for posterity. Dragged from the comforts of her city office to the wilds of Uttar Pradesh, with the promise of the story of the decade, Mrs. Sen is somewhat disturbed when Sally casually drops into after-dinner conversation that her husband is still alive . . .Manjula Padmanabhan s collection of darkly humorous tales from contemporary India introduces us to characters such as Rakesh, a disturbing young man who finds it hard to keep his hands to himself, particularly when travelling on public transport; Mr. Sukhatme, an old-fashioned calligrapher forced to demean his skill, who finds a way to turn the tables on his employer; and a young, mother-damaged engineer, whose devious plan to burn alive his sleeping wife and child escaping to Delhi with his wife s suitcase of money goes horribly wrong.High in narrative tension and laced with unexpected twists, Padmanabhan s twelve tales are an intriguing window on contemporary India.