The principal of the local school recommends a student named Gyan—who has finished his bachelor’s degree but hasn’t yet been able to find a job—to be Sai’s tutor. It takes two hours for him to walk to Cho Oyu, and at first, Sai is unwilling to be pried away from her reading.
Though it is not yet revealed that Gyan is Nepali, his inability to get a job is one of his primary motivations for joining in the GNLF’s cause—in order to create a place in which he feels valued and treated fairly.
The cook sets out study tools in a semicircle for Sai and Gyan, and this reminds him of the clinical atmosphere at the doctor’s. He would emerge happily with his modern medicines but would inevitably run into other servants who counseled him to pray instead and squashed his faith in science.
The cook’s interest in modernity reappears here, but it is not without skepticism. In some ways, the cook is the character who is most cynical of globalization because he still retains his religious beliefs very firmly, and resists threats to those beliefs.
During Sai and Gyan’s first lesson, the cook brings in tea and fried cheese toast. He then sits just outside the door and is impressed by Gyan’s careful and deliberate tone. Little does he know that this deliberateness is borne of a need not to look at Sai and not to embarrass himself in front of her, as she has already begun to have a powerful effect on Gyan.
As the relationship between Sai and Gyan is kindled, it is worth noticing the cheese toast that the cook brings them. This will become part of their debates about privilege and Western culture, when Gyan criticizes these products later, and Sai points out that he also enjoyed them.
Later, the cook remarks to Sai that it is strange that Gyan is Nepali—he would have thought Gyan would be Bengali. The cook explains that Bengalis are more intelligent, reasoning that it’s because they eat fish. Sai scoffs at his logic, as she has already found Gyan quite compelling.
The bias against Nepalis is again reinforced by the caste system and the cycle of poverty (the lack of opportunity in getting jobs leads to a lack of opportunity for social mobility), even by those like the cook who are of a similar social standing.
That night, Sai sits and stares at her reflection. She wonders at her own face and body, and whether she might be attractive. Over the next few days, she becomes obsessed with her own face. She looks at her reflection in various objects—knives, spoons, and ponds—and finds that each reflection she sees looks different.
Once Sai begins to have feelings for Gyan, she starts to obsess over her own appearance. This is one example of how sexism in society can affect young girls’ mindsets, as they believe they will not be able to marry if they are not thought of as physically attractive enough.