This book would not have been possible without the Kotharis, the Patels, and the Sarmas. Over the course of three years, Pradip, Nandini, Payal, Toral, Harish, Kapila, Kajal, Zankhana, Sankumani, Shravani, and Chiku let me into their lives, homes, and selves so readily and willingly. May others be as inspired by their stories as I have been.
I thank Samuel Freedman of Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism for showing me how it's done, and for giving me the confidence to do it. I thank him for the words and mantras and rules that echoed in my ears when my typing fingers couldn't go on and then somehow did. I thank my fellow “folks,” Jeffrey Goldfarb, David Lawrence, Jana Karam, Harry Bruinius, Shira Boss, Dore Carroll, and Sarah Richards, for their encouragement along the way. I especially thank Dave for helping me navigate uncharted waters, pun intended. And I must single out Jeff, who quoted from The Crucible and proved over and over just how much he really cares about books, and me. I thank the entire Book Seminar class of 2000 for their comments, edits, and advice—all of which influenced the pages that follow.
I thank Marlie Wasserman of Rutgers University Press for taking a chance on a fledgling writer, for seeing this as a viable subject, and for her encouragement of my career and endeavors beyond this book. I also thank her assistant and my college classmate Michele Gisbert. I thank copy editor India Cooper for her close reading and patience.
I thank Russell Galen of the Scovil Chichak Galen Literary Agency for helping me navigate the world of book contracts, and agent Anna Ghosh for facilitating our introduction.
I thank Beth Kressel, who served as my research assistant and worked miracles in tracking down information in a short amount of time.