Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Prototypes, flags and waterfalls

Last Sunday (15th) was Independence Day, where the whole of India celebrates being rid of us guys. The engineering college held a special ceremony which Lincoln and I thought we should probably attend. I had imagined it to be a day of jubilation but in fact it was a much more sombre occasion; remembering those who died for freedom. The ceremony involved the raising of a flag (which we saluted), a minute’s silence, the national anthem and a patriotic speech from the principal. I enjoyed the speech but lot of the students seemed to be less enthusiastic about it all and see the story much more two sided. They realise the great advancements that the British brought with transport and technology, even if we did rob India’s resources, and are disillusioned by the corruption present in the government since we left.

             This is a photo I managed to sneak during the ceremony. The guys assured
             me it was OK to take a photo

Later in the day we made it to Didupe waterfalls with some of the guys. The hostel places incredible strict rules on the students compared with what we’re used to including strict curfews and the students need special permission to leave Ujire at all during term. This makes getting away for a day trip more involved than you’d expect, but after a cunning operation 11 of us made it out to a Jeep and we set off.

The 2km trek from the road took us through some amazing jungle following a path up the river. The route crosses the river about half a dozen times for no obvious reason, which made for some good water fights. And the falls themselves we spectacular. We spent quite a while playing around in them.

Most of my week at work has been spent coming up with some new prototypes for the de-husker. Wanting to hedge my bets I’ve come up with three different designs based on some of the old patents I’ve looked through, two of which are currently being made. The language barrier makes it a lot more difficult to explain to the steel workshops what you're after, even with an interpreter, so we’ll see how things turn out. To be honest I’m not expecting any of them to work well but I hope they will give some useful insight into how the de-husking process works and which will be the best route to pursue.

On Thursday I went with Lincoln and Sandeep to nearby Dhamastala to meet with the agricultural director of SKDRDP, India’s fifth largest NGO, who have contact with a lot of rural communities. They seemed very keen on the projects and offered to carry out a survey for me to help understand what farmers would want from a small scale de-husker. They also offered a chance for me and Lincoln to showcase our projects at one of their project’s monthly federation meetings to get some more feedback from farmers. It's going to be on 15th September and so I now have my first official deadline.

One of the students took me to his maths lecture this week. The teaching style was very different to lectures back home; most of the time was spent copying down what was dictated or written on the board, and there were a lot more examples.
             I managed to sneak this photo when teacher wasn’t looking. Spot the
             other differences between this and an English lecture.

The rugby boys will be pleased to know I’ve found a gym where I can put in my pre-season training. One of the guys I met there was very insistent that I should train three times a week but we’ll see how that goes.

And a few more photos from the week:

             Having a waterproof camera came in pretty handy on this trip

        Some additions to the rulebook, posted on the hostel noticeboard.

             For a few rupees, this elephant will 'bless' you with its trunk. Hindus believe it to
             be a god, along with some other animals that can be found around the temples


  1. Great to hear what you're up to, inmate Sam! Great photos! Those monkeys are so cute! Like the ones we saw in Costa Rica! Lots of love from us in Europa! xxx