The year was 1994, and I had gone on an organised trip to India, one week in the Delhi-Agra-Jaipur triangle, and another in Ladakh.
At the time I was working for Allied Steel & Wire, and consequently I was very interested how rebar was being used in Leh, the capital of Ladakh. Normally in Britain rebar is either supplied as 1.5 or 2.5 tonne coils, or as 12 metre length straight bar. In Leh, however, I saw how a bundle of straight rebar had been bent in half, and the resulting V-shaped bundle was pulled by a donkey using a rope attached to the bend in the rebar.
On a different occasion, I observed work in progress on a building on the opposite side of our hotel. The rebar was in place, and the concrete pillar was gradually being filled in a wooden frame, just as it often is done in Europe. However, the way the concrete arrived on the scene, was not by use of any of those modern concrete mixers we’re used to over here – they wouldn’t have fitted in the narrow roads anyway. The workers were mixing the concrete on top of a piece of jute and once the mixing was complete, fed it into the wooden box.
You could see the result on completed concrete pillars, where every foot or so, the boundary of one batch to the next was clearly visible. I remember at the time wondering whether this might damage the structural integrity of the building in any way.
Still, it was an interesting insight into a low-tech approach to processes that in Britain would have required far more machinery and far fewer people. I can only assume that things have changed in India in the intervening years.