mungbean in india

Category Archives: Small Things

Small Things #9

9.15pm, Delhi.  It’s after dark, a warm and humid evening, and I’m walking to the shops near my apartment. At the side of a residential road, three men—one of them a security guard—are sitting next to each other on plastic chairs, looking at the side of a parked car, laughing and smiling. As I walk past them, I can see that they’ve placed a mobile phone in the recessed door-handle of the car next to them, so that it’s suspended […]

Small Things #8

Around 5pm, on a busy main road in Naraina. A small, wiry woman–a daily wage labourer–walks briskly along the road after work with her three children.  All of them are animated and chatting over the noise of the traffic. It’s clear that she’s a daily wage labourer because as she walks she has a full-size pickaxe perfectly balanced on her head, hands-free, and with the handle pointing directly forwards.  

Small Things #7

Delhi, February. About 7.30am, and I’m just heading out the door to go to work.   I hear the hoot of a train from the nearby track. Only it sounds different: three rising tones rather than two. Or the more common long, single, plaintive note. I think to myself how it sounded like a trombone. I carry on walking past the park and hear it again.  Odd. As I turn the corner, in front of me is a man in […]

Small Things #6

On a dark, busy, Friday evening in Bangalore I stop in the wine shop on my way home from work.  It’s spacious and modern, with steel and glass frontage.  Several businessmen are eyeing up the 18-year old imported single malt whiskey, which is very expensive. On the counter next to the window are a couple of small Hindu idols with garlands of fresh flowers round their necks, along with a large bunch of bananas, half a coconut, and a couple […]

Small Things #5

About 8.30am, and I’m walking to work down a residential side-street.  A woman comes out of her house with a large bowl of food scraps.  She goes to the corner of the street and calls something out. A huge black and white friesian cow comes waddling up to her, and she puts the bowl down on the ground in front of it. As it starts eating, she touches the cow on its rump, mutters something, and blesses herself.

Small Things #4

Saturday lunchtime. It’s about 25 degrees.  A boy of around 7 years old nonchalantly wanders about in bare feet, daydreaming and singing to himself, outside a shop on a busy road. He’s wearing shorts, a T-shirt, and a fluorescent, lime green, knitted balaclava.

Small Things #3

Walking through Koramangala as I head home from work, I slip down a quiet residential side-street away from the traffic.  Round the corner, out of the almost-darkness comes a small herd of around 8 or 9 grey-haired buffalo calves, their huge ears flapping as their heads bob from side to side.  The smallest are only the size of a large dog, and the biggest about twice this size. Every face has the same expression, something like a contented grin. Sticking […]

Small Things #2

In a hotel room in Mumbai, Sunday morning about 9am.  I suddenly notice that it’s really quiet… all I can hear is the clock ticking and crows cawing outside.  A tap-tap on the window turns out to be a dragonfly looking in.  It must have been like this for at least half an hour. I’m pondering how peace and quiet is such a rare commodity in Indian cities, and how you could run special holidays to quiet places for city-dwellers. […]

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.