Sunday, October 12, 2014

October 12th: Project orientation & exploring Bhinder

Suffering from a bit of jet lag, we were all awake during the wee hours of the morning. It definitely ensured that we were all at breakfast on time. Well, save and except for David who's survival skills were put to the test first thing this morning. As Kim, Bob, and I sat enjoying our morning coffee and chai tea, unbeknownst to us David was fighting for his life as he was locked in his room. As it turns out Bob "inadvertently" locked the door to their room on the way out to breakfast not realizing that he was leaving behind a teammate. Unfortunately this will mean some slight deductions in "team leader points" for Bob. ;) No doubt Tommy will be pleased to hear this. Thankfully David is quite resourceful and his cries for help were answered by hotel reception.

Heera and his trusty driver picked us up from the hotel at 10:00am and we made the hour and a half drive out to the rural village of Bhinder. It being Holy Day today, traffic was surprisingly light, though somehow no less death defying. Driving through the countryside we were able to see some of the current crops; maise, sorghum, and soy beans.

The four of us were welcomed by the lovely Barthvi, who is the 20th generation owner and operator of the Rajmahal Bhindar Hotel. We were not welcomed as guests but as family, complete with marigold leis and bindis.

The hotel is adorned with marble flooring and detailed architecture. It's not difficult to imagine its opulence and grand celebrations it has held over the four hundred and some odd years of its existence.

This afternoon we met with Heera and five other gentlemen involved in the development of the water irrigation project we will be working on. We reviewed the work to be done and outlined a general work itinerary for the week ahead. In summary, the intention of the project revolves around the better usage of the monsoon rain water that typically falls during the months of July and August. The focus is on engaging the local community people in the development of harvesting, retaining, and more effective usage of the water. The plan is to start early morning and end early afternoon so as to avoid working under the hottest hours of the day.

After our meeting, we meandered through the narrow winding streets of Bhinder. The locals were friendly and seemingly intrigued by our presence. It's strange how when you subtract the "safety" of a car you suddenly need to be a million times more alert to the motorbikes, cars, cows, and people. Add in the element of cow dung and you feel like you're in a state of constant high alert.

We ended our day with a candlelight dinner in the palace courtyard. The food is delicious and is in no way lacking in flavour or spice. We've been informed that the chef has toned down the spice and made it 'average' for us. I hate to think of what the level of spiciness is for the locals. It's fair to say the food has a bit of a "bite" and I think we're all silently hoping that it doesn't bite back. To be continued...

Anya Malda
DWC Volunteer Participant
Udaipur, India: October 2014 

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