Jenna received her BA in English from Iowa State University in 2015, and she has taught at the secondary level for three years.
Chapter 11 Summary
At the beginning of this chapter, Gogol wakes up alone in his apartment on a Sunday. His wife, Moushumi, has been away at a work conference in Palm Beach, but she is supposed to return tonight. Gogol gets up from bed, makes some coffee and a little breakfast, and starts to work in his apartment, which is freezing because the building's boiler has stopped working. He is working on a design for a high school auditorium, but after his fingers stop working because of the cold, he decides to take his work to his office.
Gogol walks about 30 blocks to his office, and when he arrives, he notices that he is the only one there. While at his desk, Gogol looks at his wall calendar and realizes that it has already been almost four years since his father died. He then glances at the pictures he has near his desk. There are some photos of him with his family, and there is also an old passport picture of Moushumi, which catches his attention.
Gogol's thoughts then shift to the previous weekend, when he and Moushumi hosted Thanksgiving at their apartment. They invited Ashima and Sonia, Moushumi's parents, and her brother. Ben, Sonia's boyfriend, also came over. Gogol had a good time with everyone, and since he was so busy hosting, he didn't have as many opportunities to worry about his strained relationship with Moushumi. He knows she has been unhappy lately, and he wonders if she regrets marrying him.
Later on, Gogol takes a break from working and goes out to walk around the city. He grabs a quick bite to eat at an Egyptian restaurant. He eats a falafel sandwich, which is a sandwich with a deep-fried patty made of fava beans or chickpeas and spices. As he walks and eats, he thinks about what to buy Moushumi for a Christmas present. Normally she gives him hints, but this year she hasn't given him any ideas. Eventually, he wanders into a bookstore. Here, he is drawn to a collection of guidebooks. He picks up one about Italy and quickly decides that he is going to take Moushumi to Venice for her Christmas present. He buys the book and leaves feeling happy.
Gogol then starts to walk home, picking up some of Moushumi's favorite foods, including an Italian salami called soppressata, at a gourmet grocery store along the way. When he's almost back home, a flock of pigeons flies right by him. Frightened, he ducks. He notices that no one else reacted as he did, so he starts to feel a little foolish. This event unsettles him, but he starts to think of the pigeons as a good sign, since there are a lot of pigeons in Italy, especially in Venice.
When Gogol arrives at his apartment's lobby, the doorman lets him know that Moushumi has arrived. This news makes Gogol happy as he imagines seeing his wife again. He then hides the guidebook in his pocket and calls the elevator.
Important Quotes from Chapter 11
Although Gogol senses that Moushumi is growing distant, he still enjoys hosting a holiday meal and spending time with family.
- ''Last weekend was Thanksgiving. His mother and Sonia and Sonia's new boyfriend, Ben, had come, along with Moushumi's parents and brother, and they had all celebrated the holiday together in New York, crowded together in Gogol and Moushumi's apartment. It was the first time he had not gone either to his parents' or to his in-laws' for a holiday. It felt strange to be hosting, to assume the center of responsibility.''
Since Gogol is busy hosting, he doesn't have as much time to worry about his relationship with Moushumi.
- ''She accused him of nothing, but more and more he sensed her distance, her dissatisfaction, her distraction. But there had been no time to dwell on this worry.''
After the holiday weekend, Gogol considers asking his wife if he is happy with him.
- '' 'Are you happy you married me?' he would ask. But the fact that he is even thinking of this question makes him afraid.''
Gogol thinks that a trip to Italy will help strengthen their marriage. Neither of them has been to Italy before, so this would be an opportunity for them to experience a new place together.
- ''A trip together, to a place neither of them has been–maybe that's what he and Moushumi need. He could plan it all himself, select the cities they would visit, the hotels. It could be his Christmas gift to her, two airplane tickets tucked into the back of the guide.''
At the start of the chapter, Gogol wakes up on a Sunday morning, alone in his frigid apartment. Moushumi is away for a conference, so Gogol starts to work on a design project. He works from home for a while, but he later decides to walk to his office. At work, he thinks about Moushumi and his family. He then starts to reflect on the past weekend, when he and Moushumi hosted Thanksgiving. Both of their families came, including Sonia's boyfriend, Ben. The holiday weekend kept Gogol busy, but he still couldn't help thinking about how distant Mosuhumi has become.
A while later, Gogol takes a break from work. He walks around, eats a falafel sandwich, and thinks about what to buy Moushumi for Christmas. After going to a bookstore, Gogol gets the idea to take her to Venice. On the way home, he stops and buys Moushumi's favorite foods, including some soppressata. When he is almost home, a flock of pigeons terrifies him. He tries to see this as a sign that he and Moushumi are meant to go to Italy since there are a lot of pigeons there. He then returns to his apartment and learns that Moushumi has arrived home from her conference.
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