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People's Environmental Awareness - Khati (PEAK) Follow PEAK with the financial assistance of World Nomads on the path to delivering educational, water supplies & solar home lighting systems to Kumaon villages....

Solar business in Bageshwar

INDIA | Wednesday, 6 April 2011 | Views [550]

March 7th

Our trip to Bageshwar last week was a nightmare for a variety of reasons, however to eat some grapes and bananas made it worthwhile! Our hotel: we ended up in a room where you had to fight for a bucket of hot water  (mainly because asking nicely simply failed to do the trick!), sleeping sheets (which luckily we have) were mandatory so your skin didn't touch the hotel sheets and when you pulled up your blankets to cocoon yourself against the cold night air a peculiar scent permeated, it was the familiar smell of the last decade of human sweat compiled into one grimy blanket.

Morning tea is delivered by a nine year old (yes - India has child labour laws but they aren't uniformly enforced in Uttarakhand) whose name is Surya. He has seven brothers and sisters, only made it to class 3, his dad beats him up at home (and his boss isn't adverse to having a go as well) and he works horrendous hours. Surya is exceptionally vulnerable as he delivers chais to rooms throughout the hotel that is full of visiting men from outlying area who stand in queue's outside the town's two 'wine shops' (whisky, brandy, rum) to be later so plastered they won't remember a damn thing the next morning.

The Solar Home Lighting Project continues to be problematic, and the trip to Bageshwar (one of many) for business purposes was futher compounded by a totally erratic power supply and a server that kep going down midway through correspondence. The solar goods (after untold agnst) have been finally tracked down - 48 boxes in all - but haven't as yet been sighted. They are currently at the courier depot in Rudrapur on the Uttarakhand state border. We are told that the goods should be here in the next few days....  Alas the continual rain has closed the road to Kurkia (5km away) but our preferred option to maintain local livlihoods is bringing the goods in via mule train, but snow has mounted on the track up at Dhakuri Pass which is now close to impassable.

Due to the debacle over money transferral from Australia, PEAK struck a deal with the GSBF that the goods would be sent before the payment was finalised... now can I add that this deal was struck well before payment became a nightmare. Now you wouldn't think transferring under $10 000 from Australia to India would be suh a big deal - would you? As I have said previously the Mumbai terrorist attacks have made banking problematic - but not impossible - unfortunately our organisation has been hit with the 'double whammy' with a recalcitrant GSBF boss who decided he simply does not want to deal with bureaucacy so he won't supply the relevant paperwork to the State Bank of India (who require a Certificate from the Home Ministry to clear the finances). So now that leaves us to deal with it?! Commonwealth Bank of Australia are now try to wrangle the money out of Indian clutches and back into our account (all for a fee of course)....

I injured my back when picking up Hemanti, so our trip back from Bageshwar was on a jeep bound for Kurkia. A fair weather road only. A combination of a non consolidated road, rain and jeep traffic has carved the road up significantly, the mud was so thick in sections that we kept careering from one side to the other sliding all the way, bottoming out and eventually we got bogged. It took all the men from our jeep, who were joined an hour later by crew from the following jeep (around 15 in all) nearly two hours to extract us from what appeared to be an impossible situation. The only saving grace was our driver who has had twenty years driving experience in the army, just happens to be the best of the jeep driving bunch. We still haven't worked out why none of the jeeps are 4WD??

Our walk back home thanks to my back and incessant rain was slow, we arrived just on darkness exceptionally cold and wet. However, that night we were grateful to be back in our own bed.



Tags: banking, indian business, mountain roads, solar home lighting project



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