The old, the new and the tacky

The old: note how this asphalt road turns golden all of a sudden ... It's grains set out to dry. Because paved surfaces are rare in rural South India, streets get commandeered for the purpose of drying out grains. An added advantage is that when cars drive over the grains, some amount of threshing also takes place.

Now for the new: Last year, I pointed out a new water tank at a village near where my parents live. This year, the village sports a new elementary school and town hall. You know that the opportunities for India's most disadvantaged are looking up when villagers in the remotest corners pay to construct a school building and send their children to school rather than to work in the fields.

And the tacky ... more and more, pink-tiled homes are being replaced by concrete monstrosities painted in atrocious colors. The clincher is that the family that decided to paint their home purple feels the need to "ward off the evil eye" by also placing a gargoyle on the roof. Wouldn't the house paint alone suffice?

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