Page 80. " With the two Singers racing again "

The Singer Corporation has been manufacturing sewing machines since 1851. Here is a short video showing tailors working in an Indian slum:


Page 82. " we couldn't afford the ghee and wood for our own funeral pyre "


Cremation Pyre
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeCremation Pyre - Credit: Gregor Younger, Wikimedia

Hindus believe that cremation helps to release the soul from the body. There are a number of rituals surrounding the funeral, but ghee (clarified butter) to cover the body is an essential component.

Page 87. " his distinctive fez "
GNU Free Documentation LicenseFez - Credit: Horst Frank, Wikimedia

A red felt hat, usually with a tassle. The fez originated in Ancient Greece and later found popularity in the Ottoman Empire.

Page 87. " He found the jyotshis and fortune-tellers in the marketplace most comforting. "
Jyotish Chart
GNU Free Documentation LicenseJyotish Chart - Credit: Equinoxius

Jyotisha is Indian astrology, drawing on the study of the planets, the stars and the horizon. Charts are used to predict what the future may hold.

Page 99. " Soon as I have fed you my Bhojpuri brinjal "

Brinjal means aubergine.  Bhojpuri refers to north-central and eastern India.

A similar recipe:


Page 99. " What could a Chamaar pass on to his sons "


Tanning Leather
GNU Free Documentation LicenseTanning Leather - Credit: Bernard Gagnon, Wikimedia


The word chamaar comes from the Hindi word 'cham' meaning leather. Chamaars were originally people involved in the leather industry, but the word now includes those who work in agriculture; together they make up the second-largest occupational caste in India.

Tanning leather is a dirty, smelly job, and for this reason chamaars were thought of as untouchables – their very presence contaminating their surroundings.

Page 100. " the law of Manu had been subverted "

The Law of Manu is a controversial piece of literature which discriminates against women. The text states that a female must not be independent, but must obey her father, her husband and her sons. On the death of her husband she must be burnt alive on his funeral pyre.