Soon after Arun arrives to the Patton house, Mrs. Patton tells Arun that she hears from her sister that food in India is different, and that therefore she is sure he will want his own kind of food. He reassures her that he can get his meals in town when he works, secretly relieved that this arrangement will excuse him from having to sit down and eat with the family. It soon becomes apparent, however, that eating meals only in town won’t be a good permanent solution. Mrs. Patton tells Arun that she would like to try vegetarianism, and that her only reason for not doing so sooner is her husband and her family’s preference for meat. She gets excited about going vegetarian, and tells Arun that this will be a fun activity for them to do together, but he does not share her enthusiasm or desire to band together.
Arun seeks any opportunity available to be alone, and the idea of eating by himself is preferable to eating with the Patton family and being forced to socialize. Mrs. Patton enthusiastically assumes that going vegetarian will connect her to Arun, but she is oblivious to his resistance to connecting with her or her family. Mrs. Patton has long conformed to American culture’s tradition of meat eating, and only now does she feel empowered by the presence of a foreigner, whose difference she welcomes as an opportunity to assert her own differences as an individual.