So here I am, delving into the past like Monsieur Poirot, not to solve a mystery, but to try to understand some of the events that have helped define the sort of person I have become. Some of it, naturally, is in the genes; but much of it is in the environment, in the circumstances in which we grow up, in the people who come into our lives, even in the air we breathe. Had I grown up in London or Timbuktu, I would have been a different sort of person, I'm sure. My parents (and those before them) made me. But India made me too. The soil, the air, the wind, the rain, the trees, the grass, the proximity of people-all these things made me . . . Different things at different times helped to make the individual that is me, just as different things at different times helped to make you, just as they went into making your brothers and sisters, who are very different from you. 'Do I contradict myself? Very well, then, I contradict myself,' said Walt Whitman. Each chapter of this memoir is a remembrance of times past, an attempt to resurrect a person or a period or an episode, a reflection on the unpredictability of life. Some paths lead nowhere; others lead to a spring of pure water. Take any path and hope for the best. At least it will lead you out of the shadows.