Wednesday, December 8, 2021

America for Beginners - by Leah Franqui

Recently widowed Mrs. Pavil Sengupta of Kolkata, India decides to venture out of her bubble and travel to the United States in search of answers about her deceased gay son Rahi. She employs the First Class India USA Destination Tour Company to hire her a tour guide (Satya) and a traveling companion (Rebecca) for her trip. The three set off on a cross-country trip and learn not only about the United States, but some things about themselves as well.

One of the stops on their trip was the Corning Museum of Glass in New York. Mrs. Sengupta asks her guides if  there were "many places like this...places where things can be studied"? To which Rebecca responds "Oh, yeah. Tons. My dad always said growing up he learned more in museums and libraries than anywhere else".

Mrs. Sengupta does make a stop in a library at the end of her trip, at UC Berkeley, where she reverently "touched the pages of [Rahi's] thesis, printed, bound, and carefully stored in the university library".

I marked one other passage of this book while I was reading it, although it had nothing to do with libraries. This is my only book blog, so I have no where to vent on this particular topic but here: 

During a regrettable night of drinking in New Orleans' French Quarter Rebecca refuses "to have sex in a public bathroom for reasons of hygiene, good taste, and physical comfort." I have noticed recently that a public bathroom sex scene seems to be de rigueur in twenty-first century television and movies. Every time it happens I roll my eyes and make a snide comment to my husband about "here we go again". For the exact reasons that Rebecca gives, I am having a hard time believing it is as common as pop culture might lead us to believe. I can only hope that this tired trope, along with  "making up your bed to look like you're sleeping in it", and "crawling through an air duct to escape a locked room", has a  screen time to real life ratio of something like a bajillion to one.

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