Page 1. " His Excellency Wen Jiabao "

Head of the Chinese government since 2003, and as such one of the most powerful people in the world. He visited Bangalore in 2005, keen to build business links between the two 'Asian giants', as in the novel.

Page 10. " no boy remembers his schooling like one who was taken out of school "

Despite free and compulsory education to age 14 in India, literacy rates stand at 60% (lower for women), and only 15% of the population will reach high school. Anti-child labour laws have been strengthened in recent years, yet agencies estimate between 20 and 50 million Indian children under 14 work, and there are an estimated 1.1 million street children in India. Regardless of legislation, poverty continues to mean that education is not an option for many.

Page 13. " He's a rickshaw-puller sir. He's got no time to name me. "

While hand-pulled rickshaws are only seen now in Kolkata (Calcutta), cycle-rickshaws are still common.

cycle rickshaw
Creative Commons Attributioncycle rickshaw - Credit: Steve Evans
Rickshaw pulling is hard, physical work, and poorly rewarded, with rickshaws often rented for high prices rather than owned by their pullers. The sight of a thin, shoeless puller sleeping in their rickshaw on a roadside is a common one in India.

Page 15. " Mother Ganga, daughter of the Vedas "

Mother Ganga, or the river Ganges to most westerners,  is worshipped by Hindus as a Goddess. Bathing in the river, it is thought, can help wash away sin and purify, lifting the bather out of the normal cycle of life and death. Millions of pilgrims flock to the Ganges to bathe in its holy waters.

Ganges
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeGanges - Credit: Arvind Jain
The 'Vedas' are the Hindu scriptures.

Page 20. " The Water Buffalo "

Water buffalo

buffalo
Public Domainbuffalo - Credit: Rudolph Furtardo
are common throughout India (and the rest of Asia) as livestock, used for dairy, meat and as working animals. India is the world's top buffalo milk producer, producing 56 960 000 tonnes annually.