Lola realizes the old feeling of anger that had always been there: how eyes had always watched them. The Nepalis could recognize and name her and Noni as some of the few rich people in the town, but the sisters could barely distinguish between individuals making up the crowd of the poor.
Whereas before they had thought themselves distinguished, Lola and Noni now realize how their cultural elitism has made them objects of hatred to others. Their bias against people without wealth is demonstrated by the fact that they cannot recognize anyone who does not belong to their class.
Generations worth of discontent begin to settle upon them, and the things that Lola and Noni had found so innocent and fun (Trollope, the BBC, Christmas), suddenly distinguish them and make them vulnerable. Their wealth exposes them.
Lola travels to a part of town that she has never been in before to pay a visit to the head of the Kalimpong wing of the GNLF, Pradhan. She complains about the illegal huts being built on the Mon Ami property, but Pradhan argues that along the roads, it’s government land, and that’s the land that the GNLF is taking.
Lola traveling to the GNLF demonstrates how the balance of power is teetering—even though she is still wealthy, she is losing more and more control over her property and her situation.
Pradhan tells Lola that he is the king of Kalimpong, and that a king must have many queens. He mocks her, asking if she wants to be his fifth queen, and the other men in the room laugh at her. He comments on her age and her physical appearance, saying that he would expect a large dowry. Lola walks out in a stupor. The women outside laugh at her as well.
Once again, Desai makes use of a variety of power dynamics to show how privilege can come in many forms. Pradhan’s misogynistic comments are used as a tool of humiliation in order to prevent Lola from asserting her rights over her estate. Neither side is blameless in this conflict.
When Lola returns to Mon Ami, Noni asks what happened. Lola can’t bring herself to recount the episode. She goes into the bathroom and sits on the toilet, screaming silently to her late husband. She feels alone and unprotected. But she had loved him: for his Wellington boots, his Burberry socks, and his knowledge of German, Russian, and Robert Frost.
Lola’s thoughts communicate the injustice of a misogynistic society. She knows she should be treated with equal respect, but her fury at her late husband acknowledges her inability to be taken seriously as a woman. Her descriptions of her husband demonstrate his Westernization as well.
Noni knocks on the bathroom door and asks if Lola is all right. Lola tells her to go away. Noni tries to explain, once again, the perspective of the Gorkhas, but Lola won’t have it. She says that they are mercenaries and will be loyal to whoever pays them. She says they are louts. Noni leaves Lola alone, and tries to reconcile with the life she has led—one that has been filled with “doubleness or self-consciousness.” She realizes that their possessions had been equivalent to cowardice.
Noni undergoes a similar realization as Lola did, beginning to understand that their wealth was only a means for them to buy into a culture that had oppressed so many others, but they had been ignorant to think that their wealth only affected them. This realization is an affirmation of globalization’s potential for harm even to the affluent.