He knew what his father thought: that immigration, so often presented as a heroic act, could just as easily be the opposite; that it was cowardice that led many people to America; fear marked the journey, not bravery; a cockroachy desire to scuttle to where you never saw poverty, not really, never had to suffer a tug to your conscience; where you never heard the demands of servants, beggars, bankrupt relatives and where your generosity would never be openly claimed; where by merely looking after your own wife-child-dog-yard you could feel virtuous. Experience the relief of being an unknown transplant to the locals and hide the perspective granted by the journey. (page 299)
Ashes have no weight, they tell no secrets, they rise to lightly for guilt; too lightly for gravity, they float upward and, thankfully, disappear. (page 308)
Biju stepped out of the airport into the Calcutta night, warm, mammalian. His feet sank into dust winnowed to softness at his feet, and he felt an unbearable feeling, sad and tender, old and sweet like the memory of falling asleep, a baby on his mother's lap. Thousands of people were out though it was almost eleven. He saw a pair of elegant bearded goats in a rickshaw, riding to slaughter. A conference of old men with elegant goat faces, smoking bidis. A mosque and minarets lit magic green in the night with a group of women rushing by in burkas, bangles clinking under the black and a big psychedelic mess of colour from a sweet shop. Rotis flew though the air as in a juggling act, polka dotting the sky high over a restaurant that bore the slogan "Good food makes good mood." Biju stood there in that dusty tepid soft sari night. Sweet drabness of home- he felt everything shifting and clicking into place around him, felt himself slowly shrink back to size, the enormous anxiety of being a foreigner ebbing- that unbearable arrogance and shame of the immigrant. Nobody paid attention to him here, and if they said anything at all, their words were easy, unconcerned. He looked about and for the first time in God knows how long, his vision unblurred and he found tha he could see clearly. (page 300)
But then, just as Lola was going to make another remark about Darjeeling's demise, suddenly the clouds broke and Kanchenjunga came looming- it was astonishing; it was right there; close enough to lick: 28,168 feet high. In the distance, you could see Mt. Everest a coy triangle.
A tourist began generously to scream as if she had caught sight of a pop star. (page 197)