An Indo-American Canterbury Tales, The Meagre Tarmac explores the places where tradition, innovation, culture, and power meet with explosive force. It begins with Dr. Vivek Waldekar, who refused to attend his father''s funeral because he was "trying to please an American girl who thought starting a fire in his father''s body too gross a sacrilege to contemplate." It ends with Pranab Dasgupta, the Rockefeller of India, who can only describe himself as "''a very lonely, very rich, very guilty immigrant.''" And in between is a cluster of remarkable characters, incensed by the conflict between personal desire and responsibility, who exhaust themselves in pursuit of the miraculous. Fearless and ferociously intelligent, these stories are vintage Blaise, whose outsider''s view of the changing heart of America has always been ruthless and moving and tender.