Biju grows more and more concerned about the cook in Kalimpong. He looks out over the Hudson. A man comes up next to him and tells him that the real name of the river is Muhheakunnuk, “the river that flows both ways.” He spouts disjointed sentences about whaling, oil, and underwear. Biju responds, “No speak English,” and walks away.
The somewhat deluded man serves as a good reminder that America too was a colonist nation in its beginnings, and has racism built into its roots. Thus, its ability to be a globalized nation, built from immigrants, is an extension of the fact that European colonizers initially took the land from Native Americans.
Biju walks back to the Gandhi Café, thinking about how his life isn’t amounting to anything. Biju delivers lunch to the proprietor of the new Shangri-La Travel agency and tells him that he wants to go back. The man tells him not to be crazy; nevertheless, he sells Biju a ticket on Gulf Air.
Biju feels more and more that he doesn’t belong in America, and not even the Indian part of America, because its idea of India is far different from what he knows it to be (as seen in both the Gandhi Café and the Shangri-La Travel Agency here).
Biju buys various appliances and souvenirs to bring back to India. As he shops, he remembers when, as a child, he’d been part of a pack of boys who played so hard they’d come home exhausted. He remembers bathing in the river and playing cricket. He doesn’t remember the corrupt schoolteachers, the monsoons, or his dead relatives. He doesn’t think of the things that made him want to leave.
Though Biju doesn’t think of the reasons why he left India, the pull of home is exceptionally strong because he wants to be in a place where people value his cultural heritage and where he is loved by someone. Even the bad parts of one’s home, the novel seems to argue, are better than the bad parts of a foreign land, because they inherently carry more familiarity.