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Travelogue

We begin from Vadodara at 7:15pm to Delhi for attending the Bootcamp at Centre for Science and Environment between 4th to 15th November. I was taking as if life is taking a big turn. After boarding the train, I started relaxing and preparing for the Bootcamp. At 5;45 am, we get down at the Tuqlakabad station. We have a long walk, to the nearest autorickshaw stand. The walk is unique because the whole walkway is beautifully landscaped. The mind is totally at peace. We reach after we get to the PRIA hostel and see the most beautiful sunrise. The room is facing the CSE premises. Then I get ready and start for the day at 10. There are 4 Indians, 3 Bangladeshis, 2 Sri Lankans and 1 Nepali national. All day is taken up by Ms. Sharmila Sinha, the hostess of the Bootcamp with a brief introduction of Mr. Amit Bharua. There is a visit to the library and then we are given the assignment. After 6 pm, everyone starts focusing on the assignment. After dinner, we chalk out the rough planning strategically about the e-magazine project that we are given. Then after retiring to the room, we pack our bags and finally into the bed dreaming what the field trip had in store for me. The first lecture was given by Mr. Richard Mahapatra, the environmental journalist. He gave us an idea about the techniques used to write articles to make them eye catchy, and yet the information had to be crisp, well organized short and sweet and yes with lot of visuals too. We have lectures until 3:30 pm, then we get ourselves organized for the field trip and get going. On 5 November, at 5 pm we started off for Jaipur from Center of Science and Environment. We
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reach there at about 11pm and had our dinner at a restaurant.

Water being pumped out of Barkheda lake for irrigation, near Jaipur

On 6 November, we started early in the morning, at 9 am we start off with


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Mr. Harshvardhan who has worked extensively for the lakes of Jaipur. We visited 3 lakes, namely Barkheda, Chandlai and Mansagar lakes. This is purposely done to make us think the variety of ecosystems that prevail in and around the lakes and how the community responds to them. Barkheda Lake has a completely well balanced ecosystem because Jaipur Municipal Corporation does not recognize it.Chandlai Lake on the other hand is as large as the BarkhedaLake but face major threats of siltation and getting polluted. The Mansagar Lake amidst which Jalmahal stands is a catchment area where rainwater gets collected from the slopes of the Aravalli.

A view of Jaigarh Fort in Jaipur

Then we visited the Jaigadh Fort and saw the perfect way of water harvesting. It has been a history that Jaipur has never faced any droughts except the last 10 years due to this simple, logical water harvesting system. Living Wisdom, Dying Senstivities. And then, at the end of the day, some of us went shopping. We had our dinner at Laxmi Mishtaan Bhandar and called it a day. On 7 November, early morning we started for Tiloniya. Tiloniya is a small village set up by Bunker
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Roy and Aruna Roy and the campus is called Barefoot College. We reached there at lunchtime. Then after lunch we had a look around the old campus of Barefoot.

A women busy in welding in a fabrication workshop at barefoot collage

At old campus of Barefoot, we saw The Solar Cooker Engineers, The Solar Battery Engineers, The Wood Section, Handicrafts Section and the Kabaad se Jugaad section. To our utter surprise, all the work was done by village women. Those women, who could not even come out of their houses for fetching the portable water, are they in SWRC, and working in any of the above Sections. Mr. Navrot quotes us as the likhit asaakshar, the reason being that though we come from different professions we read the theory part of making a solar cooker, it is our literal inability to make one. Whereas some of these women have not even seen the school but they are able to make 2 solar cookers in a month. Here they are not only buying the materials required for making the solar cooker but also welding, fabricating, cutting the mirrors and assembling the solar cooker.

Carpets being made from mill scraps, Tiloniya

As we went through the series of sections of Kabaad se Jugaad, a thought crossed the mind, that there are so many wonderful things we could do apart from the regular 10 am to 7 pm job which can make us happy. We saw the making of calendars, diaries, pocket diaries etc. then from the thrown away slippers numbers were made for the little children to educate them in the Kabaad Se Jugaad Section. Also the wood section was interesting part. Rather people working in Tiloniya are much happier than us doing jobs in a stipulated manner, time and they earn too.

Children at night school tired after a long day

We went to see the night school in a nearby village. Here it is a one man show. The lady named Kishankunvar teaches from 1 to 5 Standard. She teaches all the subjects singlehandedly. The
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school runs in the evenings between 6 pm and 9 pm. All the books required for reading and writing are provided by Kabaad se Jugaad Section. The basic medicines required for cough, cold, fever are also provided by the Barefoot College. It supports these schools until they are officially run by the Tiloniya Gram Panchayat. And once they are recognized, they start a new school in the nearby village.

Nayeem riding a camel in the camel fare at Pushkar

As the sun aggress us to get on our toes, on a lovely morning on 8 November, we hurried off to
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Pushkar. Pushkar is famous for its famous Pushkar Lake and the only temple of Brahma in the world is situated here. The people of Pushkar were busy making arrangements for the world famous Camel Fair which starts from the 17 November. (the date is Devuthani agiyarasaccording to the Hindu
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Calendar).

Woman from diverse backgrounds learning solar engineering at Tiloniya

And after a quick lunch, we started off to see the new campus of Barefoot College. We saw the Solar Battery Unit, Sanitary Napkin Unit and a small Barefoot Hospital. In the Barefoot Hospital there are Acupuncture, Dentistry, General Physicist and Radiology Department.

Khusbu, from the acupuncture Department quotes that, I had to face many problems when I commenced the work here. But after my family got the confidence that I am working in a good place with good people, there are many girls from my village who are encouraged to work by their families.

Barefoot dentists at barefoot collage explain participants how to clean teeth

And how can we forget the lovely Barefoot Dentists, Kesar and Gauri.Gauri has studied till class 2 and Kesar has never seen the school but both know their job as a dentist perfectly well. Kesar was a fun lady to meet. She shared her lifetime experience with us. Once an Australian helicopter pilot visited around Tiloniya, he had pain in his tooth. When he took off in his helicopter, the pain was terrible. So he landed and asked for a dentist to a villager passing by. The villager told him about the Barefoot Dentistry Section. The Australian just went to the Dentists and got instant relief through Kesars work.

Barefoot trained Dentist, Kishan Kanwar gives demostration

Hence, he offered her a helicopter ride. Now, she has never been in a helicopter so she took 2 to 3 ladies along with her. He gave them all the head gear and asked them to tie the safety belts. As they went in the air, all the ladies were getting butterflies in their stomachs and just said, Ab to gae (now we will die). He was pointing straight to the Mataji Ka Mandir on a hill. And then when they got really near to that mandir, he artistically manoeuvred the helicopter and all the ladies heaved a sigh of relief. After that he once again made sure whether they were ok and asked whether they wanted to go for one more round and Kesar being a real Marwadi lady, asked for 2 more and enjoyed the ride.

We also saw Video Library, village library, Puppet Section and The Community Radio.

House of puppets at Barefoot College

In the puppet section, we met Punaram. He showed us the most famous puppet, 365 years old, Jokhim Chacha who hails from Lucknow! Through Jokhim Chacha, Punaram and his 7 member team tell stories which are concerned to the common villagers lifelike the water crises, malnutrition crises. They run workshops for 3 days in which they just give the information, the 7-day workshop in which they give general information as well as teach us how to make a puppet. And the 15-day workshop, they teach everything, right from the making, to the performing of the puppet show. All the songs are sung in the traditional style using Harmonium, Dholak, Ektara, and Ravanhattha. The songs are sung in local language. Lastly we saw the Community Radio. And guess who the Radio Jockey is? Navrotji ! At 90.4 FM, one can hear the Community Radio. The radio runs for 6 hours daily. Guess what is the acoustic material used for insulating the room of the radio station? Used egg cardboard crates! Wow! Now thats what we call smart. Sorry this is not the material they taught us to use in Architectural Schools. Why have our lives become so complicated that we cannot think in a simple way? This radio is broadcasted in the local language. Usually the information regarding the health-hygiene is broadcasted, information about the night school, encouraging people to send their girls to school and work. And of course the fun part that everyone awaits like some classical singers program, a group song performance, recital of the self written poem etc to encourage local people having talents like singing, writing. The idea is to make people sensitive towards their own life as a whole may it be education, health or having a hobby of mimicking! After seeing the community radio, we quietly wrapped up the day. Also we chalked out a rough plan about the e-magazine.

Laxman Singh at his office taking the Sun

On the 9 morning, we started for Laporiya after breakfast and shopping in the Tiloniya Craft
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shop. We reached the Nagar village, where Mr. Laxman Singhji has his office. Laxman Singhji gave us the detailed idea about the how his journey began from the age of 17, his idea of Sharaddhakarmi yatra and the famous Chauka system.

Every year from this Dev uthani agiyaras, there is a procession named Shraddhakarmi Yatra taken out by the village volunteers who want to do social work for the progress of their own village. They go from one village to the other and then sit along with the grampanchayat to chalk out what facilities they need may it be making a school, water storage tank, temple, community hall planting of the trees. The Gram Panchayat officially writes the work to be done. And then these Shraddhakarmis divide the work. They work accordingly to make a temple for example for a year. After the completion of the work, on next years Devuthani agiyaras, the temple is formally inaugurated by the Gram Panchayat and given away to the villagers. Also, for some of the villagers who have done some outstanding social work for the village are be awarded accordingly.

Thank you Laxman Singh say the sheep!

Post lunch, we saw a region where more than 100,000 trees are grown by the Shraddhakarmis. Many of these trees have just grown by mere pollination done by birds and insects. More than 25 different species of birds have called this place as their home. We saw the Chauka system. After a detailed interaction with Laxman Singhji, we wrapped up the day by a nice desi meal with bajre ki roti, ghee and gud and then we glided silently into a blissful sleep.

Solar powered pumps installed on the wells full of waters in Laporia

On the 10 November morning, we had a walk in the farms having Chauka System. Through the
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Chauka System, the water in the soil is hardly an inch beneath the soil. The amazing factor is that all of us had a hard time to bid goodbye to the wonderful farms coupled with perfect temperature, with fresh air, and the only sound of birds chirping around. Then after the breakfast at Laxmanjis home, he explained us the 3 different types of Chauka system. Then on the way back to Delhi we saw a cowherd shed nearby and the view facing it. Then at the National Highway we bade adieu to Laxmanji and set off for Delhi. Late evening, we had snacks at Bahor Midway. We reached Delhi at about 10 pm and then called it a day after a very fast dinner at Sagar Ratna restaurant.

Overall we had been brainstormed by a number of people who just have the basic education but their strong will has changed the environment around them, may it be the story of Jaipur Lakes, the rainwater harvesting system in Jaigarh Fort or the work done by the Shraddhakarmis to create a vast forests which has its own ecosystem in Nagar village. Tiloniya is model village but how the people in and around it have benefited is where our e-magazines theme comes Community intervention can hammer the change.

So last but not the least the change comes from within. Remember, an egg when broken from within gives birth to a chicken and an egg broken from outside makes a good omelette! So folks chose! As there is a saying in Gujarati, Man hoy to j Malve javaaymeans where there is a will there is a way. Yes today we may be totally uneducated about the topic that concerns us but then a strong will and constant updation of the information and knowledge we can reach the Stars! From 13th November, we were brainstormed in each and every field that makes a difference in the change in the environment. And besides that we also learnt some presentation techniques since we were designing an e-magazine to be published on wordpress. Mr. Jay Panda, Indian politician, currently serving as a Member of Parliament in the Lok Sabha also happened to give us a perspective from a politicians point of view regarding the Cyclone Phailin that hit the coastal Odisha and also about Vedanta and Posco. I think the most interesting one to one talk that we had was with Shankar Gopalikrishnan (Activist, Coordinator, Campaign for Survival and Dignity). Then in the late evening we had a fieldtrip to Waste and water management: Walk through Neela Hauz, Sanjay Van, Hauz Khas Lake and Deer Park to understand the linkages of waste and water management. Then on the way, we had stopped to have some refreshment. Then back to the campus and two of us sped off to get the groceries for the dinner! We had a late night lunch at about 10ish and then we all sat in each others room having a great time together. And then on 15th November, the last day of the seminar, we present the e-magazine to Ms. Sharmila Sinha and Amit Bharuah. Officially we all thanked Centre of Science and Environment for helping us to become sensitive towards the environment that we live in.

Kishor Rimal, A.N.M Ehtesham Ul Huq, Ravindra Gunawardana and Kalyan Tanksale were our teammates who gave their presentations about their work. And then we have a lunch party in a nearby restaurant and we call the Seminar off with a note to do something meaning in our own gamut of interest and make India a better and greener place to live for the future generations!!!

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