Monday, September 6, 2010

It Works!!!

This week I got the first of my prototypes back and it worked! In fact, a lot better than I was hoping: it was only intended as a proof of concept and I expected I’d need to make several refinements before it would produce the same kind of yield as a conventional de-husker, but it managed about a 95% de-husking rate which is definitely comparable. There are still lots of modifications to make for the next prototype though, like including the option of making it motor driven and looking at other ways to increase the throughput. And I’m yet to show it to local farmers to see what they think. In light of the result, Anand my manager has offered me a beer and a job for next year. I’m not sure if he was being serious about the job bit or not.

             The contraption... Paddy (rice with husks on) goes in the middle bit; you turn
             the handle and rice without the husks on comes out the sides! (There are a few
             other subtle design features but I won't bore you with those here).

             And here's some 95% de-husked rice

I’m still waiting on the second design that I sent off, although the workshop has made progress and I’m really hoping that it’ll be ready to test next week. I’ve also ordered the third design now but it’s a bit more complicated than the other two and so they reckon it’ll take about two weeks to make.

Yesterday was Teachers’ Day, a national celebration in commemoration of India’s second president, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan. Most universities hold a show where the students get the teachers to do various fun things. At the engineering university where I’m based they divided the teachers into six teams and then set various competitions including some races, a talent contest, an eating competition and a quiz.

             The lecturers got quite into musical chairs

They also traditionally have various performances from the students to say thank you to the teachers and one of my good friends here, Anantha, kindly decided to put my name down to play at the event. When I agreed to do it I didn’t realise that it would be in front of 800 people and by the time I heard that they’d axed all the other performances except for mine and one other girl’s it was a bit late to pull out. I couldn’t have had a friendlier audience though and it was a lot of fun. I played Hero by Enrique Iglesiasas as they all seem to know it here (and it’s pretty easy to play).

According to Hindu legend their god Vishnu was incarnated as a Krishna, who as a child loved a drink known as buttermilk so much that his mum had to keep it in a pot hanging from the ceiling to prevent him getting it. Out of this has come a tradition known as Dahi Handi, where people hang pots of buttermilk from a rope that can be raised or lowered by others standing at the side. Men take it in turns to try to smash the pots with their fists, and in some places form large human pyramids to help them reach it. On Saturday the university put on their own version which I got to take part in. After the traditional throwing of paint at each other, the guys started to throw mud and the thing pretty much turned into a massive mud wrestling competition before the pot smashing bit had even started. This wasn’t really what was supposed to happen but it was a lot of fun.

I also managed to make a trip to some other waterfalls with a bunch of the students. This time there were girls which meant the operation had to be even more covert than the last trip. To make the most of the panoramic view we took it in turns to sit on the roof of the Jeep when we made it into the proper jungle.

Here are some more photos:

                              Learning to cook dosa at a local caff.

             One of the other challenges at Teachers' Day

             I've become friendly with the guys who organised the Dahi Handi and got
             to paint one of the pots

             The pots before the smashing began

             Me about to go in

                      I'm not going to lie, it was a bit cramped in the Jeep
                            on the way to the waterfalls

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