Recently widowed housewife Evelyn sold her home to cover huge debts. Graham, a high court judge, was raised in India. Jean and Doug lost retirement savings in their daughter’s internet start-up. Muriel, a retired housekeeper, needs a cheaper hip replacement. Wealthy Madge hunts another husband. Norman is an aging Lothario, still on the make for one-night stands.
On arrival in India, their connecting flight to Jaipur has been cancelled, Graham arranges for bus and tuk-tuk overnight. Manager Sonny is enthusiastic, but the destination disappoints. Phones are out of order. The building is dilapidated. Cuisine is unfamiliar. Jean mostly reads inside the hotel, whereas Doug explores city sights suggested by Graham, who disappears on secret outings. Muriel, despite her racism, is grateful to her doctor for a successful operation, and hotel cleaner for kindness. But the girl speaks no English, and is a lowest caste “untouchable” (“Dalits”), ananachronism.
Evelyn finds her first job, cultural adviser to a call centre, helping phone operators bond with callers and appear less rude and robotic. She tells Doug her stay depends on that paycheck, and starts a blog. Sonny struggles for local monetary support, but starts improvements with phone repair. Madge joins an exclusive club, fails to pass herself off as Princess Margaret, and the bartender’s promised rich bachelor turns out to be Norman.
Invited to the home of the hotel cleaner, Muriel and her doctor-cum-translator spend an awkward afternoon. Muriel manages to force down food, but upsets the family, shouting at children playing on her wheelchair in the street. As apology, she offers chocolate hobnobs, and confides that her lifelong housekeeping job ended in abrupt dismissal. Graham confides to Evelyn that he visits the records office to find a long-ago boyfriend. Jean, still dismissive of Indian culture, follows him to the office, makes a pass, and is humiliated by Graham’s revelation of his sexual orientation. Doug and Evelyn help Graham find the old lover he last saw at age 18, when he left India. Back next morning after the reunion, Graham dies peacefully of a heart attack. Evelyn’s blog records that he had a heart condition and knew he would not return home.