In the Ghandi Café, the food is catered to an American market. Harish-Harry has worked to find what he calls the “Indian-American point of agreement.” The customers get “all you can eat” for six dollars, while snake charmer music plays in the background.
Even as Biju finds more of a home in the Ghandi Café, the food becomes a means of catering to American customers instead of having actual authenticity. This plays into the commodification of culture that globalization entails, as can be seen by the stereotypical “snake charmer” music.
Harish-Harry’s wife suggests that the staff could live below the kitchen. By offering free housing, they can cut the pay to a quarter of minimum wage and reclaim the tips. Biju leaves the basement in Harlem and sets up a new life at the Café—but he is still not able to escape the rats. Biju also quickly comes to realize the rift that exists within Harish-Harry himself, who tries to be loyal to both cultures.
Although these actions seem to be generous on the surface, the situation makes Harish-Harry and his wife more able to exploit the staff. The recurrence of the rats shows yet again that the most vulnerable and poor immigrants are being taken advantage of—even by people who share a cultural heritage with them.
Harish-Harry is not the only one who lives a divided life—many Indian students come in with American friends, speaking with one accent to the staff and another to their friends. The Indian-White romances are particularly sneered at by the staff. When the desis (a Hindu word meaning a person who is part of the Indian diaspora) order spicy food to show off, they often find the food to be far too hot, and the staff grins at their pain.
Biju starts to become resentful of Indians who have set aside their culture because they live in a society that values Western cultures over Eastern ones. When they try to don their cultural heritage temporarily in order to show off, Biju becomes particularly angry, because Indian culture continues to be treated like a commodity, even by Indian-Americans.
Harish-Harry blames his daughter for part of his assimilation. She was becoming more fully American, and when she got a nose ring, he slapped her. She had told him that she didn’t want to be his servant, and that no one was going to wipe his ass. He had been devastated and got drunk, crying on Biju’s shoulder and dreaming of revenge on American culture.
Harish-Harry clearly still retains some of the more conservative ideas about gender relations, as he slaps his daughter for something relatively harmless. It is clear, however, that she refuses to be subdued, as she answers him harshly in return.