A newsagent who knows Biju informs him of the strikes brought on by the Nepalis. Biju had attributed the break in the cook’s correspondence to the weather. Over the course of the day, Biju becomes convinced that his father is dead.
As Biju grows more worried about the cook and thinks more about returning home, it is evident that though people and values can constitute home, those people and values are often inextricably tied to places, and so it can be painful to be distanced from them.
The next day, Biju tries to call his father at a place up the road from Cho Oyu, saying that he will call again for his father in two hours. The watchman comes to inform the cook that his son is calling him on the phone. The cook runs down the road, leaving Sai to watch dinner.
The importance of family to having a sense of belonging is made clear here, as the cook immediately leaves Sai in order to speak to Biju. Throughout the novel, Sai has felt somewhat isolated because of her lack of a family, and so she seeks out comfort in this area from the cook. But here she can see where his true priorities lie.
Biju calls again and the cook answers. They yell over the phone, trying to compensate for the distance and the bad connection. Each one confirms that he is all right, but their conversation falters after that. The cook asks when Biju can get leave to return home. The phone line goes dead. Biju feels completely empty. He recalls a letter in which he told the cook he was growing fat, when in reality he had to buy his shirts at the children’s rack because he is so thin.
Biju’s internal conflict is clear here, and it mirrors the internal conflict of many immigrants in America: he wants to return to a place where he feels a sense of belonging, but he also wants to make his family proud by surmounting his poverty. Whereas the cook lies to feel some pride in himself, Biju lies to prevent the cook from worrying about him.
Biju returns to the Ghandi Café. Harish-Harry shows the staff pictures of the condo in New Jersey for which he had just made a down payment, complete with a satellite dish. He worries that his daughter won’t be able to find a husband because her personality is unpleasant. He tells her she will regret her disposition for the rest of her life.
Upon returning to the Ghandi Café, Biju sees that his major obstacle is an arbitrary document telling him that he belongs in the country, because that document has allowed Harish-Harry to thrive where Biju still feels destitute.