The narrator tells his story to an apparent stranger he meets in a market in Lahore over a cup of tea, then a long dinner. His tone is very proper, dispassionate and distant as he tells the details of his great success as a student at Princeton, then as an employee in the top levels of the world of finance and the end of this world for him and his return home to Lahore. He is successful because he knows how to focus intensely on his goal and he is an outsider. He finds pleasure in his success, and is especially happy during his orientation to the job in New York. His first assignment is in the Philippines; he is there on 9/11 finds to his surprise that he is pleased to see the twin towers fall. While he can find sympathy for the victims, he has pleasure in seeing America brought to its knees.
A twin to his story is that of the apparently perfect woman he met just as they both graduated. A tragedy in her life left her unable to live in the world, preferring instead to be in the unreal world inhabited by her late childhood friend.
When he returns to New York, he becomes involved with her and their lives each unravel and they are unable to help each other.
By the end of the dinner, we know that someone is not going to make it home....