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From a great distance the Marabar Hills look romantic, and at the English club Adela remarks to Miss Derek that she would have liked to have visited them with Aziz. Adela says that she has observed that Indians are “rather forgetful” about appointments like this. A servant overhears her saying this and reports it to Mahmoud Ali. Aziz soon hears the exaggerated report that the ladies are deeply offended by him. He decides that he must make good on his offer.
As with the town of Chandrapore itself, the Marabar Caves look romantic and charming from a distance, but are quite different in reality. Once again the English take an invitation literally when it was not meant to be so, and so the whole outing begins with a misunderstanding, as neither Aziz nor the women really want to visit the Marabar.
Aziz goes through a great amount of trouble inviting Mrs. Moore, Adela, Fielding, and Professor Godbole – as he wants to recreate the company of the tea party. Ronny allows Adela to go as long as Fielding takes responsibility for her. Aziz is forced to accommodate everyone’s unique dietary restrictions (Muslims cannot eat pork, Brahmans cannot eat beef, the English are picky), but finally the trip is planned.
The roundabout and confusing steps Aziz is forced to take to organize the expedition is an example of the “muddle” of India, but for the Indians who simply accept the muddle it is possible to work through it and get things done. Cows are usually sacred in Hinduism, and so they are not eaten.
The train for the Marabar Caves leaves before dawn, so Aziz, Mohammed Latif, and some servants spend the night at the train station to keep from being late. Mrs. Moore, Adela, and their servant Antony arrive first. Antony is arrogant and sneering, and stands apart from the other servants. Aziz suggests that Adela send him away, and she tries to. Ronny has commanded Antony to stay with Adela, however. Antony only leaves once Mohammed Latif bribes him. Mohammed Latif is Aziz’s old cousin, who will be overseeing the railway carriage, and Aziz treats him as comic relief for the guests.
All this seeming muddle and confusion will later look suspicious and conspire against Aziz during his trial. Aziz is still excited and honored to be a tour guide for the English, as he has not grown disillusioned with them yet, and he still subconsciously has the colonized mindset that the English are more “civilized.” Mohammed Latif was the relative who mooches off of Hamidullah’s money.
Aziz and Mohammed Latif discuss how everyone should be treated on the trip, but then the train suddenly starts – before Fielding and Professor Godbole have arrived. They appear in their car and run towards the train. Fielding shouts that Godbole’s long prayer made him late. Fielding tries to catch Aziz’s hand and jump aboard, but he misses both the hand and the train. Aziz panics and worries that the whole trip will be ruined.
There is more confusion to disrupt Aziz’s carefully planned outing. Aziz is now essentially alone in charge of the two Englishwomen, and he suddenly bears the burden of proving to the English that an Indian can be a responsible host. Fielding, instead of being a “responsible Englishman,” is the late one. Godbole is so spiritual that he pays no attention to practical things, like being on time.
Mrs. Moore reassures Aziz, saying that “we shall all be Moslems together now,” and Aziz is overcome with fondness for her. Adela also comforts him, and he feels that they are both “wonderful ladies,” though Mrs. Moore is entirely perfect. Aziz is suddenly optimistic, and intends to prove with the trip that Indians are capable of handling responsibility and entertaining English guests.
Aziz and Mrs. Moore continue to feel a strong connection and intimacy, despite having few actual interactions. Mrs. Moore calmly accepts the muddle and seems to transform it into a “mystery”—or confusion with some purpose behind it.