In March, Father Booty, Uncle Potty, Noni, Lola, and Sai take the Swiss Dairy jeep to exchange their library books at the Gymkhana Club before the trouble on the hill worsens. Roadblocks are threatened, as well as a three-day strike, no national celebrations, and the burning of the Indo-Nepal treaty of 1950. Everyone is “encouraged (required)” to contribute funds to the GNLF, and to send a male representative to every procession.
At this point in the novel, readers can start to see how wealth and privilege potentially become a means of exposure rather than protection. Lola, Noni, Sai, and company travel to the club because they want to exchange their library books, while others are struggling in the face of strikes and supply shortages.
On the road, Sai thinks of Gyan and their fight over Christmas, and how ugly it had been in contrast with the beginning of their relationship. Lola and Noni wave at Mrs. Thondup, a Tibetan aristocrat who lives nearby, out the window of the jeep. They do not wave to Mrs. Sen.
Though Sai does not yet know what had caused Gyan to become so nasty to her, she will soon discover how his political awakening led to his rudeness, an attitude sanctioned by those involved in the GNLF movement and in the society at large.
When they arrive in Darjeeling, they see the effects of a new law. The government has recently passed legislation allowing an extra story to be built on all the homes to try to accommodate for the population. This added weight has caused many landslides. Lola and Noni comment that the town has really gone downhill—both literally and metaphorically.
The cycle of poverty has even infiltrated the laws in Darjeeling: because parts of the town are so overpopulated, the law allowing more stories to be built causes homes to fall to destruction. The sisters’ comment here seems particularly insensitive, given their wealth.
Uncle Potty leaves to buy liquor, having depleted the entire supply of rum in Kalimpong. Lola disapproves, particularly because Uncle Potty doesn’t want to get books to read, but the ladies put up with him because he is well-educated and from a good family.
The women’s begrudging approval of Uncle Potty demonstrates that wealth is not the only criteria for privilege, though it is a major factor. He is accepted into their elite society instead because of his education and English heritage.
The library contains aging books and bound copies of periodicals. The group unanimously dislikes The Far Pavilions and The Raj Quartet, because English writers writing about India turn their stomachs. Sai grows angry seeing older books like The Indian Gentleman’s Guide to Etiquette, which advocates segregation between Indians and Europeans.
Sai’s disdain for these writers does prove her anti-colonialist attitudes, but at the same time confirms some of her ignorance, as she seems not to realize that the same kinds people who wrote these books also gave her grandfather his political stances and wealth, and therefore eventually (indirectly) gave Sai her beliefs as well.
Sai overhears Noni and the librarian trying to reckon with Christian sin and forgiveness in Crime and Punishment. The librarian argues that Hindus have a better system because they cannot escape their misdeeds. But Sai sees that both religions lack justice: unfairness will always exist in the world without true explanation.
In the end, of course, no society is perfect, and no religion justifies every consequence in the world. However, the GNLF movement is hoping to bring some of the people who have benefitted from colonization (like Lola and Noni) to justice, grappling with generations worth of unfairness.
Father Booty, Uncle Potty, Noni, Lola, and Sai begin to hear a procession in the street, though they can’t understand what is being said. They try to go to lunch in the club’s dining room, but it is closed for business because the political trouble is driving tourists away.
Again, language becomes an important thing to track, as it creates a sense of belonging. Here, though, it also creates a sense of exclusion, because the wealthy cannot understand what the poor are saying. The procession is thus meant to be a show of strength in numbers, as well as a means to rile people up.