Dylan, an aspiring photographer, is spending a month in Mumbai with his friend Rohit Lal and his family, but knowing nothing of Indian culture, he cannot seem to do anything right (do not hit cows!)–and the situation is made worse by the tensions within the Lal family over whether Rohit should be raised in India, which Mr. Lal’s wealthy sister is pushing for.
It’s Andy’s first trip on an airplane when he and his dad travel to Vietnam to meet all his relatives. Talk about culture shock! Everyone calls him by his Vietnamese name instead of Andy and he is stunned to discover the family restaurant. For Andy and his dad, a former refugee returning for the first time, Vietnam is full of surprises. Somehow though, it also becomes the place for learning how to see things in a whole new way.
In 1984, Marjane flees fundamentalism and the war with Iraq to begin a new life in Vienna. Once there, she faces the trials of adolescence far from her friends and family, and while she soon carves out a place for herself among a group of fellow outsiders, she continues to struggle for a sense of belonging. Finding that she misses her home more than she can stand, Marjane returns to Iran after graduation. Her difficult homecoming forces her to confront the changes both she and her country have undergone in her absence and her shame at what she perceives as her failure in Austria. Marjane allows her past to weigh heavily on her until she finds some like-minded friends, falls in love, and begins studying art at a university. However, the repression and state-sanctioned chauvinism eventually lead her to question whether she can have a future in Iran.