Growing up in an Indian orphanage, Asha Miró; dreamed that someday she would be adopted. At the age of six, her wish finally came true, but only at the misfortune of another. A Catalan family was in the process of adopting twins when one of the children suddenly fell ill and died -- a twist of fate that led the family to adopt Asha instead. Leaving a life of poverty behind, Asha was given a second chance.
Twenty-one years later, Asha takes a heart-wrenching trip back to India to uncover her native roots. Full of unexpected encounters, this adventure informs and touches Asha beyond her expectations. She visits her old orphanage, speaks with her former caretakers, explores the land that she might not have ever left, and comes to form a more solid identity. Yet one trip is not enough. Eight years later she returns, this time visiting the small rural village where she was born. While uncovering the details behind her adoption, Asha discovers the only living member of her immediate Indian family: a sister she never knew she had.
Readers' Group Guide Daughter of the Ganges By Asha Miró Twenty-one years after being adopted from India by Spanish parents, Asha Miró takes a heart-wrenching trip back to uncover her past, an unknown sister, and the details behind her cross-cultural adoption. Along the way, Asha struggles with her personal as well as her cultural identity. Her memoir is both a fascinating introduction to Indian culture and a record of a profound inward journey. From her home in Barcelona to the chaotic streets of Mumbai and finally to the small village where she was born, Asha pieces together the story of her childhood, eventually coming face to face with members of her biological family. Questions for Discussion: 1. In Book One of Daughter of the Ganges, Asha juxtaposes her own story with her mother's journal entries from twenty years before. What is the effect of Asha's decision to include these entries? How is her story altered by the inclusion of her mother's story? 2. Throughout the book, Asha describes the ways in which she feels herself to be both Indian and European. How does her self-perception change over the course of her two journeys? Does discovering the truth about her biological family alter Asha's sense of identity? If so, how? 3. While Asha tells the reader about her experiences returning to India, her mother's journal entries describe her arrival in Spain. What are the parallels between these two periods in Asha's life? 4. As Asha struggles to put together the missing pieces of her childhood, she receives help and guidance from a number of people, many of them women. Who are these women? What kinds of roles have they played in Asha's life? 5. In the second part of the book, Asha learns that the narrative she had pieced together on her first journey to India was incomplete, and in some places inaccurate. What effect does this discovery have on her? Have you ever discovered something about your childhood that made you revise your own story? 6. The spiral staircase in the orphanage is a powerful symbol for Asha. How does this image connect to the themes of Daughter of the Ganges? What do you think the staircase represents? 7. Before she is reunited with her biological sister, also named Asha, the author wonders, "What should I say to my sister? What do you say to a sister whom you haven't seen for so many years? What do you say to a sister from whom you have been separated by seas and deserts, beliefs and languages, cultures and experiences?" (190). Discuss the author's relationship to her newly discovered sister. How does the story of their names reflect the two sisters' differences and similarities? 8. Describing her feeling of uneasiness about why she was chosen to be adopted by her Spanish parents, Asha writes, "Fate took a hand in the game and I felt like a tiny piece on the board marked for special treatment. Unless you have decided to ignore the world around you, this is not an easy label to bear" (10). What do you think she is saying? Is there evidence that Asha's two journeys -- first to Spain as a small child, then back to India as an adult -- are governed by fate? 9. What does Asha learn from her encounter with Hari and Sakubai? How does meeting Sakubai affect Asha's feelings about her birth mother, Sitabai? 10. Chapter 19 of "The Two Faces of the Moon" is entitled "My Sister Asha's Story." Why do you think the author choose to include her sister's story? How does this chapter affect your understanding of the author's experience? 11. Early in the book, Asha writes, "I am often shaken by the excessive importance many people place on being related by blood. Obviously, it has a certain importance. But so does everything that comes afterward, all that my parents have given me, a legacy that goes beyond blood" (13). What is the "legacy" that Asha's parents have given her? Enhance Your Readers' Group: 1. Look into your family history at RootsWeb.com or Ancestry.com. 2. Take a look at Asha Miró's website to see pictures of her with her biological family. There are also links available to information about her children's book and a cartoon series based on Daughter of the Ganges. The website is www.Asha-Miró.com. 3. The website Kamat's Potpourri (www.kamat.com) offers a huge array of information about India past and present. Take a look at the timeline of Indian history and the photographs of present-day India to get a sense of the context of Asha's story.
Asha Miró has been living in Barcelona since 1974. Formerly a music teacher, she now collaborates on several cultural television programs and actively supports adoption organizations throughout Spain. Already a bestseller in Europe, Daughter of the Ganges has also inspired a documentary and a major European cartoon series with seven-year-old Asha as its protagonist.