Auteur: Broughton Coburn
In the early 1970s, Broughton Coburn lived and taught school in a subsistence-farming village on the edge of Nepal's Himalaya Mountains. It was there that he met and developed a unique friendship with a septuagenarian native widow named Vishnu Maya Gurung, fondly known to her relatives and locals as Aama, "mother. " When Coburn moved into the hayloft above her water-buffalo shed, Aama became his landlady, but she also treated him like the son she never had. Having lost his own mother shortly before he met Aama, Coburn forged an immediate bond with the sprightly Nepali woman.
Fifteen years after he first met Aama, Coburn returned to her remote village with his future wife Didi and an invita-tion for Aama to join them on a trip to America. At eighty-four, Aama believed she had become a burden to her grand-children and therefore welcomed the chance to visit her adopted son's coun-try. For Coburn, this was a way to intro-duce Aama to relatives and friends back home; but for Aama the trip represented something more—a pilgrimage that had been prescribed for her by village priests, an opportunity to gain merit by undertak-ing a strenuous journey during the final stage of her life.
Aama in America is a vivid chroni-cle of what became a twenty-five-state, coast-to-coast adventure. Guided by the perpetual curiosity and deeply spiritual orientation of their intuitive, unpre-dictable travel companion, Coburn and Didi gradually began to view their coun-try from an entirely new perspective. The more they experienced Aama's unclouded vision of America, the more they realized they were not simply travel-ing across the United States—they were undertaking an emotional and philosophi-cal odyssey toward a greater understand-ing of their culture, their country, and themselves.
Aama in America is on one level an offbeat American travelogue. But on another it is a profound exploration of beliefs, values, and lost spirituality, a search for the sacred that lies beneath the surface of America, and a singular account of the meeting of two widely divergent cultures.
BROUGHTON COBURN lived and worked in Nepal and the Himalayas for over fifteen years, initially as a Peace Corps volunteer teacher and later as an overseer of rural development and wildlife conser-vation efforts for the United Nations, the World Wildlife Fund, and other agencies. A graduate of Harvard, he is a native of Washington State currently living in Jackson, Wyoming.