India, America, Paris, Venice. The Namesake globetrots with the best of them. Each region is described in great detail, so much so that you might feel like you're reading a travel guide. In addition to giving us a sense of what life is like in each of these countries, each country also stands for different things to different characters – escape, home, freedom, failure. The list goes on.
For most of the Indian and Indian-American characters, India embodies tradition, custom, and heritage. To the children of Indian immigrants, though, their parents' homeland often appears backward and unfamiliar. The United States is an uneasy no-man's land for the Indian and Indian-American characters, since their lives are a patchwork of both American and Indian customs. Finally, Europe offers complete break from both Indian and American identities, a place where characters can totally remake themselves and cut their ties to the past.
The different regions that the characters live in point to their social and cultural differences, from the quiet suburb where the Gangulis live to the affluent lifestyle of the Ratliffs'.
Europe is a place where characters such as Moushumi can escape from their Indian-American upbringing. That escape is impossible in India and America.