I joined this group invisibly and time dislocated! Thoroughly enjoyed the comments. I have read the first 100 pages. Something that occurred to me in the observations about the hat through the ring as a metaphor for 'passing muster' in a new and unfamiliar society is that it works both ways ( the alien and the native pass across it from opposite directions) I have lived in a few utterly psychologically alien situations like in a mill in Bavaria where an unrepentant Nazi still received the deference of the entire village so the question of integration was one to be avoided! Yet unlike Bombay for Lin, that left one with nowhere to go, except to observe with Lin's kind of 'vivid detachment' the fresh uniqueness of every character.
What bowled me over is the phenomenal writing, so affectionate ( as Marco said) that it would be impossible not to identify with him whatever he gets into. But I cannot help thinking that vividness was a result of not yet being assimilated. Perhaps he will sustain it when he is. I wait to discover.
It was also interesting to see how much the individuality of the reader's own experience fed into their reading. I know as writers we assume this but it still is refreshed through a conversation of this kind. Thank you all