One of those longer than planned brakes since the last newsletter... But much work and little time to sit down quietly to prepare the News letter.
As the news got out about the dome I am building in Ananda Nagar several people wrote to ask me to write how things are going. So finally, thought the dome is still not finished at the time of writing, here is some news about the work of the last three months:
Working in a developing country is quite different from what I am used to. Also the work situation in Rural India and in the hottest part of summer with temperatures up to 46C (115F) are not making it easy.
Many other things also happening; festivals, service programs, and running out of visa... Some materials we thought available locally but in the end we had to go to Delhi to get it and had to wait ten days. Actually just digging the foundation took so much time that in the end the items from Delhi reached before the excavation was finished. Just that part took five weeks and should have taken 3 days... It took me a bit of time to adjust to the speed or better to say the lack of speed!
When I just started to select the photo's I ended up with 40... too much for one news letter. I probably end up doing three, two about the dome and the other about everything else during that period. As several of you asked for dome update I'll start with those ones.
|Where it all starts||two weeks later...|
There it is, quite barren land, early March when I visited first. After drawing the outline, excavation would start and by the time I would come again two weeks later all digging would be finished and materials ready... That was the idea... but it doesn't work like that here. I came back, no materials and only a little trench.
I started coming every day and a little more happened, also I went around to find the materials. Unfortunately some had to come from Delhi a 20 hour train ride. One other Dada was going there and would bring it. I wasn't so sure if the right things would come back but in this case all went well and he arrived, 10 days later, with all the right things. You'd think the digging would have been ready by than but still it wasn't... This was already mid April the time I planned to start with plastering the finished dome...
|and, five weeks later.||Sand delivered|
But finally it was finished and leveled on Wednesday afternoon (16th April). Above the site with the proud group who dug it. It is a bit more than shows on the photo as the site is on a slope. The opposite site is about one meter deep.
After everything had been moving at tortoise pace for almost 5 weeks, (Digging
and leveling the hole shouldn't have taken more than 5 days at leisure speed)
the actual start was speedy beyond my expectation.
|Mixer starting up||and the first mix!|
We have a diesel powered concrete mixer (with buckets for water cooling...)
and soon it was churning out mix at high speed. We started at 6pm and by 9pm
we finished the first two layers; that's about 13meter or 40ft/hour! I think
that's a good output. With the mixer churning out mix and setting the pace,
I am sure the speed will remain high.
Even at that time of the day it's 35C and I felt dehydrated even while drinking three liters of water in those three hours. After some days work I had myself drinking 8 liters a day just to keep up with the sweat lost!
|9pm and the first two layers of bag are in place||Few days later. Bathroom door in place.|
The speed was only a start... the next day the laborers didn't turn up... they
didn't like working in the evening. But the day after all was set for 3pm and
we worked till 8pm doing an other two layers on the central dome and three on
one of the side domes. It seemed slower and indeed counting feet/hour it went
down to 30ft/h. I am also slower now, on the way to the site I got caught in
lose sand, luckily at very low speed, but the scooter slid on my leg and put
a nice hole in my foot...
My visa is expiring so at that point I had only 9 days left till I had to leave India, I was still hoping that the basic shell might just be finished by than... possibly... but maybe wishful thinking:-) Nothing ever goes as planned in places like this.
Indeed... the next day we worked but at even less speed and the day after was some festival and no one worked. Next day again was recovery time from the festival... today 22nd will only be day 4 of actual work.
|Plastic all around to keep the water out||Temporal relief from the sun|
27/4: Some more progress in the last days but yesterday I got sick and had
to take off in the afternoon. It had been 46C, way to hot for cold country guy
like me. Fortunately in the evening there was a big thunder storm and the temperature
dropped nicely. We did lose the big tarpaulin which had ben a sun roof for the
last few days:-( Today we completed filling 400 meters of bag in the equivalent
of six days work with around eight people working. I think we finished about
Two more days left... things won't be finished indeed but I hope at least the curvature of the domes will start to show clearly so everyone has something to speculate on. Everyday some people from nearby villages turn up to have a look, sometimes involving the laborers and bringing the work to a stand still.
I was hoping (a lot of hope is needed...) to get new visa and come back after
10 days and stay an other 3 weeks, hopefully enough to see it completed. By
the end of May we have a big international gathering, mainly members from India
but few (who brave the sometimes up to 50C/120F temperature) from US, Asia,
Europe etc. as well. It'll be good to be able to show it completed. Already
our trainer in Maharlika (originally name for the Philippines) wants me to come
in June to train his trainees in this aspect.
|Hard work... sometimes||look from the bedroom through the living room to
the entrance. The green hose was out water level.
Working side by side with the laborers helps a lot especially as I don't speak the language. It's a bit strange for them as in India, the employer normally never does any physical labour. He (or less common she) just looks and gives orders/shouts... But sorry that is not my style! I would get very bored...
Even amongst the laborers some (the more 'clever' ones) won't do the heavier work of bringing the mix. They would happily hold up the bag with four man if they would get away with it! But than, when I am ready to do anything needed, how can they escape:-)
In general most are uneducated and only few are understanding much of what they are doing. Even the compacting is a complex issue for some... Self initiative is really very rare. Most are happy to just do what is told and receive pay at the end of the week, and they are even more happy not to be told anything and sit down and rest... Still, at the same time all are curious what this dome will be like and they are a friendly bunch. And I keep in mind that most don't have proper meals (or understanding what is nutrition) and the pay is not high either. It's less than 1 US/EU a day, and that is high for this area. If we'd pay more we'll get in trouble with other employers!
Our idea is to put the effort in providing free education (both for the children as well as the adults), medical care etc. Also anyone who wants is encouraged to put into practice what they learn and we provide assistance with free seeds and guidance. This will help much more to uplift the villages than paying more. Already this little gets partially converted into drink! Not something to encourage.
Beside having a showpiece to inspire our members and other teachers I really hope one or two of the laborers or visiting villagers really get the idea and will like to learn more. I'll be happy to help them to build in their own village.
|Some visiting Dada's and myself||End of the day.|
Now it is time to leave, we did make quite some progress, over 400 meters (1250ft) of bag was laid, the windows and doors were in place and the waterproofing barrier was put around the parts under ground. The windows look like boxes, a bit ugly but the idea is to put mosquitoes mesh on the outside and still be able to open the windows from within. When we got higher with the building we found that the 'boxes' are also ideal footsteps to get up.
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