On Wednesday I spent the day at our Ramanaguda field office where we have a training facility. They are having PC problems which need to be fixed ahead of their next capacity building workshop. I’d been before so I was quite looking forward to the fresh country air to blow a bit of the Rayagada dust out of me.
I was picked up by our driver at 7:30 AM and then we collected Mr P and Manoj from our main office. The drive up starts out from a muddy nagar, after continual rains since about 6PM the previous night (actually we’ve not had a lot of rain at all this wet season so far).
Out of Rayagada we drive north, going through a couple of villages and gradually climbing up, zig zaging round a series of sharp, hairpin bends and in some places struggling up the gradient in low gear. We pass fields, pretty much empty at this time of here, although some vegetables are still to be found at roadside sabzi walls stops, but the choice is getting very limited – johnny, aubergine, beans – the very last of the mango crop and I saw a few custard apples for the first time this year. Its pretty wet, misty and not great for pictures.
We arrived here about 10:00AM. Mr P and Manoj immediately headed off again to Gunapar another 1 hr drive for a monthly meeting on one of Shakti’s major involvements (OTELP) There are no field staff in Ramanaguda office when I arrive, they are all off out at the villages working on our CHIN project for health advocacy and awareness. Only Mr S is here to open up for me and the caretaker’s family who are busy in the garden. No English speakers at all. As far as I can make out they are trying to sort out a problem with “musa” in the latrines and attacking the newly planted garden plants. I think its these rats eating the cables to the latrine block lights again! Some one should invent a rat repellent covering for wires – come on 3M that sounds like something for you!
The office here is quite spartan – two office rooms, one large training hall and a kitchen area and caretaker’s room. But it has a reasonable amount of land and a garden. It is situated about 1/4 mile from the village and so is really quiet and has no distractions for people during courses. If you want a contrast in facilities between the have and the have nots within India check out my colleague Mike’s Facebook photos of some of his workshop sessions from Delhi and points north.
I spent most of the morning sitting outside in the nice, fresh, but wet and steamy air. The rain comes and goes, the sound of music from the next village comes and goes, the butterflies flutter round the garden. All very pleasant, and every so often a slight cool breeze. We are much higher up here than in Rayagada, further inland, but it is no where ear as cool as Koraput – which really does have the best climate around here . Everywhere is forested, with lush green undergrowth carpeting all the hillsides, none of the deforestation you see elsewhere.
Yes I was supposed to be working – but what also comes and goes is the power, and even when it is on the voltage is so low as to make using anything impossible. Silly me I forget to bring my solar charger this morning, but it was so overcast and grey that I doubt it would charge very much. Basically the power has been off since 2AM when the rains started. At this point it was looking likely to be a very unproductive day :) Even if the power comes back on and I can get the PC started, identify the problem I certainly won’t feel happy about upgrading their windows installation when the power is coming and going.
Come 1PM, Mr S asks me if I want to go into the village for lunch. He will go to the electricity substation and see what is the problem as as has been told by phone that the power should be back on. I tuck into fish curry and rice in the local dhaba, not only the only European but the only woman there as well. No hassles, no one batted an eyelid :)
Back at the office one of our field staff ManojS has arrived back from his morning out in the villages. His task for the afternoon is to draw up some handouts for a capacity building sessions he will run on village microplanning. My artistic skills lend a hand and his copies are done in no time. No fancy clip art graphics here, just plain and simple pen and paper.
Now the electricity fixer arrives. My NGO paid to have the power brought up from the village so they do get a bit of personal service it seems. Anyway, next thing I know he is climbing up the tower and within 30 minutes the local problem is fixed and we have full voltage power again.
By now it is about 3 PM and I tackle the first of the computing problems. Mr S’s pen drive, on which he transports everything back and forth between Ramanaguda and Rayagada offices is not showing up in Explorer on the Ramanaguda PC. We sit down and together try to troubleshoot the problem. In the end, I do not know why the problem has occurred, but taking off all his files onto my PC, reformatting his pen drive and reloading his files cures the problem. It may be a short term fix but at least he can get to work. Next task is to show Mr S how to access the internet via a new internet dongle.
The main task of the day was going to be upgrading their Windows installation and loading some new software to mirror the PCs in the Rayagada office, I’m only part way through this when Mr P and Manoj return to pick me up. I had assumed their meeting would go on all afternoon but for some reason it has turned out to be a short one. In the end I get the Windows updates done and find I don’t have enough room on the disk given how it is partitioned to install all new software and the updates to the antivirus. Regretfully :) I will have to come back another day and rebuild this machine. We head home, arriving back in Rayagada by 9PM, I fall straight into bed without any dinner, tired but revived by seeing the countryside and some green horizons again.