Mutt is taken to the tailors to be measured for a winter coat. The house grows cold but remains damp. At Christmas, Sai joins Father Booty, Uncle Potty, Lola, and Noni at Mon Ami. They drink and sing, eat soup, mutton, and pudding, and the sisters bring out their ornaments. Gifts are given: knitted socks from the Tibetan refugee village, amber and coral earrings, apricot brandy, and books with blank sheets of paper.
The celebration of Christmas is a major example of globalization in the small community that comprises the judge’s neighbors. The fact that they are celebrating Christmas at all is notable, considering most of them are not Christian. Additionally, they make food according to British traditions and give gifts that exemplify the upper class. This celebration becomes a major point of contention between Sai and Gyan later.
Lola drinks more rum and recalls a time when they used to travel on horseback to Bhutan. They would stay in fortresses called dzongs, which had been built without a single nail. Father Booty chimes in, remembering the baths in the fortresses, which were made of hollowed-out tree trunks with a slot underneath for heated rocks. When he returned years later, he says, the bathrooms had been redone with pink tiles, showers, and toilets.
The story that Lola and Father Booty tells is another example of how globalization can be harmful on a larger scale: here, an entire set of ancient fortresses are outfitted with plumbing and tiles. These unnecessary updates are made because of the pervasive idea that modernization (often coupled with Westernization) is always better.
That night, Sai gets into bed with her new socks. They are the same design used by Sherpas in mountaineering expeditions, and that Tenzing had worn to climb Everest. Sai and Gyan had recently gone to see Tenzing’s possessions at a museum. Gyan said that Tenzing was the real hero of the expedition, and that Sir Edmund Hilary couldn’t have made it without him. Sai wondered if humans should have conquered the mountain at all.
The story of Tenzing highlights Sai and Gyan’s differing attitudes about colonialism, power, and glory, where climbing the mountain represents maintaining control over land. Gyan argues that Tenzing should get the credit for Hilary’s expedition, foreshadowing his eventual involvement with the GNLF movement. Sai’s thoughts again portray her as passive and content with what she has, dismissing the idea of climbing the mountain at all.