mungbean in india

Category Archives: Culture

Happy Ganesh Chaturthi

  Today is a big, big holiday in the South and West of India–it’s Ganesh Chaturthi, the festival (and birthday) of Lord Ganesha, son of Shiva and Parvati, who is instantly recognisable as the Hindu deity with the elephant’s head. For the last week or so street vendors have been setting up roadside camps selling Ganesh idols, and temporary outdoor stages, kitchens and shrines have been constructed in random places (often completely obstructing the road) in preparation for this big […]


It’s Independence Day in India today, my second one since arriving here, and a national holiday.   I’ve now been here for 1 year and 8 months. Assimilation is probably too strong a word, but I joked that I was fully assimilated when I bought a pressure cooker for my maid to use a few weeks ago.  I had never used one before, but the communal hissing of pressure cookers joins the sound of grass or twig brooms sweeping tiled floors […]

Small Things #1

A weekday evening, about an hour before sunset. On a busy street a muslim woman emerges from a trendy ice cream parlour, dressed head to foot in a black Niqaab, and carrying a fancy leather handbag. She pauses at the door and looks around furtively, as if checking to see that nobody has spotted her. It’s Ramadan.

UP North, Part 1

I’m only just finishing off writing this post in July, but the last bit of holiday I managed to take was our “term break” in the last week of March. I took a short trip away to see another bit of India — this time up to the Northern state of Uttar Pradesh, or U.P. as it’s known. I got away for a whole 7 days, which is the longest I’ve been off work since arriving here in December 2010. […]

A Little Bit of Progress

The doorbell rang at 7.50 this morning, and there at the door was a woman I didn’t recognize.   She said she had come to work, which puzzled me, but I pointed at the number on the door and suggested she had come to the wrong apartment.  She didn’t seem convinced, and asked if I needed any work doing.  “Not here”, I told her.  She asked again, and I told her the same thing.  After a few minutes of back and […]

One and a Half

It’s 18 months ago today that I arrived in India, for the first time ever.  Three jet-lagged days later I started my new job. I’ve been trying to avoid “Robinson Crusoe” accounts of living here — notching up the days — but this feels like a bit of a landmark and anyway I’ve not really been counting since it was 1 year.  What I’m really interested in is documenting how it feels to become an ex-pat for the first time, […]

Monsoon Come

So, the monsoon is upon us again — almost. The newspapers here had been talking over the past week about how it would be “late”… it’s supposed to arrive in Kerala (first place of landfall) on 1st June. It’s now 5th June and you can see from the map that the actual (green) is 4-5 days behind the predicted time in red dotted lines. According to the map it’s coming in from the South-West, as expected, and has arrived at […]


Photo: The Hindu / K. Gopinathan I learned a new word today — POURAKARMIKA. In Bangalore, this is the name given to the cleaners who pick up the garbage that everyone dumps on street corners and improvised rubbish tips.  (We don’t have household dustbins here.)  When I first arrived here it was a surprise to see that in a cosmopolitan and supposedly hi-tech city of 9 Million people, the streets are cleaned by women in saris, using 2 twig-brooms, which in the […]


Photo: Caisii Mao I saw something very poignant and sad on the way to work this morning. Even on my short journey, the auto-rickshaw goes past quite a few rubbish dumps. They’re generally on a street corner, or a plot of empty land. Not really official dumps, but just a place used by the people who live and work in the area as a place to put their garbage. There are almost always rag pickers there too, sifting through the […]

The Best Photo I Never Took

Mysore at the start of a hot and sunny October. The Dussehra festivities mean the small town is bursting with people. On a busy road, a tallish Indian man with a huge grey handlebar moustache has a wide basket balanced on his head.  It’s more than a metre in diameter, shallow, straight-sided and piled infeasibly high with bananas. He keeps his back and neck perfectly straight to ensure the basket is steady, and holds the side with one hand.  He’s […]