The Gulf Air plane labors through the sky, stopping at Heathrow, Frankfurt, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Bahrain, Karachi, Delhi, and finally Calcutta. The air in the plane becomes thick from food and cigarettes. Biju begins to imagine returning to the U.S. and beginning again, buying a taxi.
Biju’s journey home reveals how he has not been able to improve his status in America despite its promise of opportunity. Yet he is already hoping to return and start over new.
Biju plays a scene of meeting his father again and again in his head, and weeps a bit with emotion. He imagines how they would sit out in the evenings and tell jokes like the ones told on airplanes by drunk men. One involves two Indian men who are forced to parachute out of an airplane. When their parachutes won’t open, they comment how typical it is of a government parachute, saying to wait and see—when they get to the bottom, the jeep won’t be there either.
The airplane joke demonstrates a paradox for immigrants like Biju: he is caught between a government that functions but doesn’t want him there and one that wants him but doesn’t function. In the end, at least at this moment, he chooses the one that wants him, where he feels that he fits in, and where he can find family to come back to.