Dancing to an Indian Tune: An Education in India tells the story of an English woman’s life-changing experiences as a student at the Hindu University of Banaras.

Mary Searle’s decision to take a step into the unknown initially seems to have backfired when people in India express disapproval of her culture, and she struggles to adjust to her new life.

The young innocent seeks relief from dry study by exploring the ancient city where she meets renowned holy men, predatory Romeos, a man who was tortured by the British and an eccentric Irish woman. She learns to spin wool, grind millet and watch over cattle in a Gandhian community.

Later travels take her to tribal regions of central India, and to Nepal, where she treks with two Sherpas towards the Tibetan border over passes of 17,000 feet, sleeping rough under rock overhangs.

Mary sees history being made when she is present at the ceremony for the scattering of Nehru’s ashes. By the time she returns to Britain, her values and habits have changed so much that everything appears alien, demonstrating that so much of what we know is influenced by our perception of our surroundings.

Mary who was at the university between 1963 and 1965 said: “The two years I spent as a young woman, studying at an Indian University, transformed my life and perspectives”.

“They challenged me to my cultural core. I want to lead readers through that exciting and strenuous journey. Much western travel writing about Asia is unconsciously steeped in Eurocentric assumptions.

"The book shows that the traveller emerges from a particular social background, just like the people s/he meets, and does not occupy some detached high ground from which she looks out at the world.”