Gyan and Sai’s romance begins to flourish. They call each other a variety of nicknames. They continue to ignore the political trouble brewing in Kalimpong, and don’t say a word when they notice that they eat differently in a restaurant.
Each time the narrative returns to Sai and Gyan’s romance, Desai also brings up the growing political trouble around them. This, coupled with their willful silence over the difference in their eating habits, foreshadows the coming conflict between them.
Together Sai and Gyan go to cultural institutes, the zoo, and the monastery on Durpin Dara. From that hill, they see the landscape below, and Gyan asks Sai about her family. She says that her parents eloped and died in Russia, where her father was a scientist. She doesn’t want Gyan to feel inferior, and so she does not reveal that he was going to be a space pilot.
As with many of their experiences at Cho Oyu, the things that Sai and Gyan do together later become weaponized, as he criticizes her for taking him to sightsee, and scoffs that she has never been to a temple except for its cultural interest. In a way, she becomes a tourist in her own country because she has been so isolated from its culture.
Gyan tells Sai a little of his own family history. They had left their village in Nepal and arrived in Darjeeling to work on a tea plantation. Then the Imperial Army arrived and recruited Gyan’s great-grandfather, offering far more money than his father had ever earned before.
Gyan’s backstory also centers on colonization, and how he feels about his family history tracks how his feelings about the British in India change over the course of the novel. Here, he begins with pride in how his family served in the war.
Gyan’s great-grandfather swore allegiance to the Crown, and was killed after he married and had three sons. Then two of his two sons were also killed in the army. The third son also served, and returned to the army when Gyan was very small. Gyan asked him what England was like, but he had never been there. The uncle would not say where he had been. Since his departure, the family had invested their fortunes in school-teaching.
Readers can see how the framing of colonialism led to a sustained way of taking advantage of people. The army employed the father, and then out of “kindness” took in his sons in order to allow the family to continue to make money. This creation of dependency is a hallmark of colonial structures.
Sai asks about Gyan’s father, but he does not reply. When Sai returns home in the evening, she stops at Uncle Potty’s for a torch to light her way home. Uncle Potty and Father Booty tease her about Gyan. When she reaches Cho Oyu, she discovers the cook waiting for her at the gate. He complains that he has been waiting for her. She asks him to leave her alone, having found space and freedom in love.
The pride that Gyan feels in his family history directly contrasts the shame that he feels about his father in the present, as Gyan’s financial situation is much worse than what Sai is able to see. In a way, his actions are similar to the cook, who tries to avoid humiliation by taking pride in the things that he can.