It is summer in the United States now, and Arun is walking alone along a wooded lane in western Massachusetts. He is noticing the houses, all with trimmed green lawns and neat outdoor fixings, houses whose doors and windows are all shut and television lights flickering through the shades—the only sign of life. Cars come by and roll into the driveways, some almost running him off the road. The manicured, closed-up houses, the inhospitality to pedestrians, and the nauseating smell of barbecue—it all seems decadent, yet lifeless to Arun. He goes into the house to find Mrs. Patton unpacking the groceries, looking anxious about a can of stewed tomatoes, worried about what she and Arun will eat for dinner.
Arun notices that unlike his village town in India, the American suburbs are full of flashy signs of wealth, of dedicated upkeep, and of what looks like an isolated existence. Americans seem to have more money, but they aren’t around to enjoy their luxuries. Where are they? Inside their quiet houses with their televisions, inside their fast cars. The individualistic style of American life allows little room for a sense of community, and reflects an inhospitality that makes Arun feel disoriented.