Lola and Noni discuss the “insurgency.” Noni thinks the insurgents have a point, but Lola thinks that now they’ll come after all the wealthy people. She complains about Nehru’s introduction of states in India, arguing that now anyone can get a group of people together and demand a state.
Lola’s opinions come from the point of view of someone who is privileged and whose values and culture are already respected in society. This comfort leads Lola to be unsympathetic towards the Nepalis.
Noni tells Lola to consider the issue from the Nepalis’ point of view. They had been thrown out of Assam and then Meghalaya, and Bhutan as well. Lola calls this “illegal immigration.” Noni questions why Nepali shouldn’t be taught in the schools, and Lola responds by saying that they’ll begin statehood demands. Sai is sitting beside the sisters, but she is not really listening; instead, she thinks of Gyan’s touch.
Noni, for her part, argues for the point of view of the Nepalis, but Lola’s worries about statehood in particular show that she is concerned not about being a minority (which she already is), but about living in a place where her culture is not what is primarily practiced and valued.
At that moment, Mrs. Sen peeks in. Lola continues their conversation, saying that Darjeeling and Kalimpong never belonged to Nepal. Noni says that the British are very unskilled at drawing borders. Mrs. Sen jokes that they have never done it before, because there is water all around them.
Sai continues to think of her afternoons with Gyan, and how they melt into each other like butter. Mrs. Sen begins to complain about Pakistan and the Muslims in India. Lola is uneasy about Mr.s Sen's stereotypical complaints, because they mirror her own prejudice against Nepalis.
Sai, for her part, is almost willfully ignorant of the conversation, which highlights her own privilege in being able to ignore the political concerns of people like Lola and Noni as well as people like Gyan—a fact that makes her political awakening brought on by Gyan so painful.
Noni asks Mrs. Sen about her daughter in America in order to change the topic, but quickly wishes she hadn’t, because Mrs. Sen can go on and on about how they keep begging her daughter to take a green card. Noni and Lola have always looked down on Mrs. Sen, particularly because they view America as inferior to England, where Lola’s daughter lives. They debate furiously over which country is better.
The debate here between England and America again reflects the dynamics between colonialism and globalization. England’s culture was imperialistic, but America’s culture is no less harmful—it only appears to be because it markets itself as a place of inclusion and social mobility. What is ironic is that both of these women are ignorant of many of the issues that immigrants like Biju actually face, as seen in Mrs. Sen’s bragging about Americans begging her daughter to take a green card.
Noni asks Sai if she has any news, to try and change the topic a second time. Sai says she has no news, but blushes. Lola asks her why she doesn’t have a boyfriend yet. Mrs. Sen counsels her to get one sooner rather than later, while Sai still feels the need to be adventurous.
It is interesting to note the differences between how the men and the women in the novel discuss marriage and relationships. Noni, Lola, and Mrs. Sen give Sai a much greater agency in beginning a relationship than the men believe women have when they contemplate marriage.