This is a love story, a translation of an Indian sex manual, an erotic farce, and a murder mystery. The hero of this protean comedy, Leopold Roth, complains, "I am a tenured full professor of Indian studies and a Sanskrit scholar, and yet never, never in my life, have I made love to an Indian woman." Imagining that such an intimacy would provide a deeper and truer understanding of what he has spent his academic life mastering, a happily married Roth becomes obsessed with Lalita Gupta, nubile student and avatar of his fantasies of a sexually idyllic ancient realm. Although this California-born Indian girl has no interest in India, the past, or him, Roth sets out to seduce her and, at the same time, to teach her who she is in terms of the history of Indian culture. To that end he begins to translate the "Kamasutr" for her, interspersing that translation with a confessional commentary. By inventing a bogus summer study abroad program, the professor is able to abduct Lalita to the land of her ancestors.