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"Seen much of this world?" Ghosh asked Ashoke, untying his shoes and settling himself cross-legged on the berth. He pulled a packet of Dunhill cigarettes from his jacket pocket, offering them around the compartment before lighting one for himself.
"Once to Delhi," Ashoke replied. "And lately once a year to Jamshedpur."
Ghosh extended his arm out the window, flicking the glowing tip of his cigarette into the night. "Not this world," he said, glancing disappointedly about the interior of the train. He tilted his head toward the window. "England, America," he said, as if the nameless villages they passed had been replaced by those countries. "Have you considered going there?"
"My professors mention it from time to time. But I have a family," Ashoke said.
Ghosh frowned. "Already married?"
"No. A mother and father and six siblings. I am the eldest."
"And in a few years you will be married and living in your parents' house," Ghosh speculated.
Ghosh shook his head. "You are still young. Free," he said, spreading his hands apart for emphasis. "Do yourself a favor. Before it's too late, without thinking too much about it first, pack a pillow and a blanket and see as much of the world as you can. You will not regret it. One day it will be too late."
"My grandfather always says that's what books are for," Ashoke said, using the opportunity to open the volume in his hands. "To travel without moving an inch."
"To each his own," Ghosh said.
About the book:
In The Namesake, Lahiri enriches the themes that made her collection an international bestseller: the immigrant experience, the clash of cultures, the conflicts of assimilation, and, most poignantly, the tangled ties between generations.