Back to 1969. Rahel and the gang are at the Cochin Airport waiting for Sophie Mol and Margaret Kochamma to arrive: "The rehearsals had been rehearsed. It was the Day of the Play. The culmination of the What Will Sophie Mol Think? week" (6.1).
Rahel is in her best outfit. When Ammu helps her get dressed, Rahel kisses both of her dimples. Rahel is still worried that her mom loves her a little less.
Estha and Rahel aren't speaking to each other because he told her that she looked stupid in her dress.
They go to the Arrivals Lounge in the airport. Rahel sees four cement kangaroos whose pouches are trash bins.
The Arrivals Lounge is full of families waiting for their loved ones. Baby Kochamma remarks that they are "mostly sweeper class" (6.34). She tells Rahel and Estha to behave themselves because they are acting as "Ambassadors of India" (6.35).
Rahel thinks she sees one of the cement kangaroos come to life. She urgently tries to get Estha's attention, but he's watching for the plane and worrying about the Orangedrink Lemondrink Man finding him.
The plane arrives. We see the people coming off the plane as a gaggle of "Foreign Returnees" who seem to be more westernized than their family members in Ayemenem. The narrator gives us a sampling of their perspectives, each observing what a dump they think India is.
We see Sophie Mol for the first time. She's wearing yellow bell-bottoms. Ammu asks Rahel if she can see Sophie Mol, but Rahel has gone off to check out the cement kangaroos.
Rahel is "overcome by excitement and resentment" (6.65).
Chacko brings Margaret and Sophie Mol some roses. He introduces Margaret as his "wife," and she scolds him to say "ex-wife" instead. Then he introduces Sophie Mol. When Ammu says hello to Sophie Mol, Rahel tries to see if she can tell how much Ammu loves Sophie.
Baby Kochamma tries too hard to impress Margaret and Sophie Mol. Estha tells Rahel this, and Rahel giggles. Baby Kochamma knows that Estha is making fun of her.
Chacko introduces Estha and Rahel as the VIPs. When he introduces Estha, Baby Kochamma makes fun of him by calling him "Elvis Presley" and talking how behind the times they are. Everyone laughs and Estha feels himself get angry. He refuses to say "how do you do?" to Sophie and Margaret.
Rahel, in the meantime, has gone to hide in the dirty airport curtains. Ammu is pissed off. Margaret Kochamma goes up to the curtain and says hi in a kind-teacher voice. Rahel feels like she can't come out of the curtain because everything is wrong.
Rahel and Estha are in deep you-know-what with Ammu for their behavior.
Ammu warns them that if they ever act this way in public again, she'll send them away somewhere to teach them how to behave. Baby Kochamma is dissatisfied with how Ammu handles things – she's been waiting for the twins to get what she thinks they deserve.
Ammu chews Rahel out for getting her clothes dirty. Then she sends them over to give a proper hello to Sophie Mol.
As they walk to the car, Sophie Mol asks Rahel and Estha if their mom ever hits them. Estha says no.
They walk past a hunger strike organized by the Class III Airport Workers' Union.
Rahel asks Sophie Mol who she loves Most in the World. Sophie Mol says she loves Joe the most and that she and Margaret have come to India to "Recover from the Shock" (6.205). She says that Joe's her dad – Chacko is just her "real" dad. She asks Estha and Rahel where their dad is. They just say he's not there.
Rahel recites her "list" to Sophie Mol – her ranking of who she loves most.
Sophie teaches the twins how to sashay like a model. They sashay across the parking lot.
The whole family drives back to Ayemenem. At one point they pass an elephant that was electrocuted on a high-tension wire.
After finding out that it wasn't Kochu Thomban, the temple elephant that they're familiar with, they drive on. Baby Kochamma makes Estha and Rahel sing a car song for everyone. A butterfly flies into their windshield.