Yesterday, we went on a field trip to rural India (Laxmikantapur) to see a ONergy regional office and to see some of the ONergy home installations. They provide solar power lights for homes. It was very interesting to see the whole process, how happy their customers are, and how remote some of the installations are. (We took a 2 1/2 hour train ride and then it was another 20 min or so to the regional center and yet another 30 or so minutes to the actual homes that had the installation… so there was a lot of travel.)
Needless to say, the day was full of firsts for the CSC team/me.
1. Our first train ride in India. The trains are crowded, but we were all able to get seats. The windows are open-air as are the doorways (there are no doors) so you get a nice breeze as the train moves. Vendors come onto the train selling all kinds of goods. Some vendors are wearing large metal disks that are attached to straps they wear around their necks. This enables them to use the disks as tables to create very fresh food mixes- both sweet and savory. They chop and mix and serve as the train moves. Vendors also come on with different packaged drinks and chips. If you order a soda, they open the bottle for you and then when you are done, they collect it and put it in their pockets.
2. Our first motorcycle “rickshaw”. The motorcycle has a large flat platform in back of it for carrying people or goods. It was my favorite part (except for meeting the people), though at some times it was going quite fast over bumpy roads, which made the ride more exciting for those in the back.. We were passed by several fancier versions.. with roofs plus poles and handles to hold on to.. the travelers on these other versions would wave to us and smile/laugh.
3. My first eating with my hands. The regional center served us a very nice lunch of rice with dal, a potato dish and an omelette. Indians take the rice with dal, mix it up and roll it into little balls that they then pop into their mouths. I, personally, was not able to get the rice to stay in the little balls, so I was not the most graceful eater. I’ll learn though, I have 3 more weeks of practice ahead of me ; )
4. My first time seeing rural India. I had read about it in books, but it is such a different experience to see it first hand. We were able to see very lush fields and trees, including banana trees. We saw a lot of baby farm animals–calfs, lambs, kids and even puppies. The fields are much smaller than in the US and the animals were tied up quite close to the road, rather than fenced in. At one point, we saw a farmer walking down the road with 4 cows on “leashes” (ie with ropes tied around their necks). We were able to visit 3 traditional houses. One was covered in cow dung. The cow dung is a grayish white and looks like stucco actually, but is smoother. They have done scientific studies and the cow dung provides excellent insulation (and no, it does not smell anything like manure or like a cow, it doesn’t smell like anything at all actually). We also saw traditional cook stoves and cow dung circles stacked to be used as fuel. (I am hoping to post pictures in a few days, my teammate Elsa took several and is willing to share). At one home, we met several children including 2 very adorable girls who were very intrigued by us.. they would run up to us and talk and then run away and grab their fathers and then run up to us and try to get us to play tag. Later, they started jumping around like frogs. When we left their home and went to a neighbor, they arrived a few minutes later again wanting to look at us (we are very unlike the women in their town– whiter, larger and wearing pants). They were super smiley and full of laughter. They asked Elsa to take some pictures of them, but when she had them stand to pose… they put on very serious faces. It was pretty funny.
5. My first laddu and my second. Laddu is an Indian dessert that is made into round balls. I saw a movie on the plane in which the main character was known for her laddu, so I was very intrigued to try it. Both of the flavors that I tried were quite good.. I’ll need to see if I can find some that would travel well to share once I get back.
Here are some pictures, courtesy of Elsa.. Thank you Elsa!
Enough for now.. time for sleep, so I can be awake for the new experiences that await for me tomorrow!