Physical setting

The events described in the memoir excerpt “By Any Other Name” by Santha Rama Rau take place in an Indian provincial town, where the main characters’ father works: 

We had been sent to that school because my father, among his responsibilities as an officer of the civil service, had a tour of duty to perform in the villages around that steamy little provincial town, where he had his headquarters at that time. He used to make his shorter inspection tours on horseback… 

Several details reveal that Santha and Premila live in a wealthy household. For example, the narrative mentions the family’s “large garden”, “fans whispering in every room”, a cook, and an ayah

The focus of the narrative, however, is the Anglo-Indian school that the girls are forced to attend because of the circumstances of their father’s job. The girls’ first encounter with the British school system is rather unpleasant, as it makes them feel like outsiders. For example, the headmistress gives them English names in an attempt to give them a new identity. Seeing the other children eat non-Indian food at recess makes Premila feel uncomfortable and like an outsider, which is why she asks for sandwiches for the next day...

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