In this charming collection of 10 stories, Iglehart explores cultural and spiritual differences between Indians and Americans. Most of the stories feature cross-cultural encounters that somehow teach the Americans a lesson. In "The Girl on the Bench," for example, a young American man receives a haunting education about poverty, hunger and the limits of charity. And in "An Indian Odyssey," a successful American businessman meets an old man who perpetually rides the train, with his destinations chosen for him by Krishna; the old sage impresses the American not only with his lifestyle, but also with his very un-Western interpretation of The Odyssey. Other stories include only Indian characters, such as "Coconuts," which chronicles a bitter rivalry between two women who sell coconuts at a popular spiritual landmark. In "The Best Way to Play the Nagasvaram," a poor Indian man finds riches in the love and wisdom of his wife. Iglehart manages to portray all the characters compassionately, even as he gently (and often wittily) reveals their foibles. While his stories veer slightly into the territory of depicting most Americans as spiritually ignorant and most Indians as spiritually aware, his American characters are almost always earnest, affable and eager to learn from their experiences in India. Perhaps most refreshing, Iglehart manages to look unflinchingly at a desperately poor country and affirm its beauty and traditions. (Nov.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.