Page 26. " the men came back from Dhanbad and Delhi and Calcutta, leaner, darker, angrier, but with money in their pockets "

Temporary migration for work from rural India to the cities is common. Generally, men migrate and women and children stay behind, and while the money earned from seasonal migration can be vital to those families, the women are often left behind with very little money, and the men who migrate are entering a difficult informal labour market, without any security.

Page 29. " Now, our schoolteacher was a big paan and spit man "

Paan stall
Public DomainPaan stall
Paan, a mixture of betel leaves and areca nut, is chewed by men all over India to freshen the breath and clear the palate.

It is usually then spat out, leaving colourful red stains on the ground. Various different flavourings can be added, as at this paan maker's stall. 


Page 33. " though the pay of any government job in India is poor, the incidental advantages are numerous "

Corruption is rife throughout India's politics and public services. This Washington Post article describes the rampant corruption at the highest levels, and how this pervades throughout the public services.

Page 35. " in any jungle, what is the rarest of animals - the creature that comes along only once in a generation? "

White tiger
GNU Free Documentation LicenseWhite tiger - Credit: Nachoman-au
White tigers  carry a recessive gene giving them white fur, pale stripes, and blue eyes. They are not albinos. They have become increasingly rare, and numbers are hard to estimate, although several hundered live in captivity worldwide. Both white and orange tigers are found in Bangladesh, eastern India, Nepal and Burma. These adaptable animals can live in forest, mountains, arid areas and swamps.

Page 50. " When Kishan put some food into Father's mouth, he spat it out with blood "

Tuberculosis is a major problem in India. According to the World Health Organisation thee country accounts for one fifth of global cases. 330,000 Indians die of the disease annually. It is a disease of poverty, with malnutrition and overcrowding helping its spread.