We went with friends to Mahabalipuram, stopping on the way at Chola Mandal, the artists' village. While our friends looked into the gallery, I went to draw the banyan tree. A big, minimally-shaped chunk of granite had been erected in front of it. As I stood sketching, a yellow-green chameleon ran down the trunk and squatted on the stone's highest point, staring at me. Two crows perched silently in the branches above it. When I could ignore the concrete skeleton of a new gallery right behind me, and the traffic noises from the road in front, the tree, the lives that sheltered in it, and the stone seemed to form a kind of small perfection.