Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Trip to Rajasthan - Check Dam Inaugurations


In the village where we change to jeeps, it took a while, but the kids finally decided the camera would not hurt them and agreed to a picture.

This is a dam site that we had not been to on the previous trips. It was started and completed after the last inspection trip. We drove for quite a while until we arrived at a village where jeeps were waiting for us. We changed vehicles and set out again. The International Rotary VP, Monty Audenart, was slated to inaugurate this dam and I was asked to do the second dam. The rain stopped before we left the reserve and nothing fell until we arrived at the dam site and then it began again. Nice omen for the villagers. They had an awning set up, but it only managed to parse the rain drops into a fine mist that came through pretty freely. We went through introductions to the panchayat (a group of villages) leaders and the honorary turban and ladies scarf routine for all those in the party.

The tiger chase had put us an hour behind schedule, so I am sure lack of time and the rain put a damper on some of what had been planned. The rain let up about the time the turban and scarf thing was completed so we headed over to the dam to do the honors. They still have not figured out my large head size and I almost laughed when they tried to jam the turban down on my head – it won’t go folks. But they got it on my head, more or less. Normally, a dam is never inaugurated until it actually has water behind it. Both of the dams inaugurated on this trip were done because of the visiting Rotary dignitary. Neither dam had water behind it because they were completed between monsoon seasons. But someone worked it out and the villagers seemed happy with the proceedings even if there was no water yet.

You can see the dam in the background, overlooked getting a picture of it.


It is a compliment to be asked to inaugurate something, especially if you represent the organization you work for, LDSC. My official duties consisted of pulling a draw string to expose a plaque cemented to the dam and then smacking a coconut against the dam and letting the coconut milk drizzle down over the plaque. Oh, and smiling with my turban almost on. Seriously though, it was done on my birthday, the 8th, and it was a great reverse present to be part of a gift to several thousand people that will benefit from the dam. One other gratifying moment came when I got an audible oooh from those there when I broke the coconut against the dam with one swing. Don’t mess with old dudes with coconuts. Monty had to whack his several times to get it to break on the first dam.

The real work in getting the check dam project put together was accomplished by the couple that preceded us, Elder and Sister Dunn, with a 4 month gap between their mission end and our arrival. I am sure they would have loved to be there. Our role has been to manage the project which is nearing completion. There are now 14 dams completed, waiting hopefully for rain runoff, and 6 more under construction that should all be finished in the next 6-8 weeks. Then the fun begins as we are expected to go back for inaugurations once there is water behind the dams. Cindy may opt out of some of those trips, but she has such a wonderful personality that it is great to be with her and watch as she literally charms all around her. I may get to pull cords and smack coconuts, but that pales compared to what she brings to the party.

Front of the finished dam. Now if the monsoons will bring the water ...

This isn't what you might think it is, but that is why I included it. Water had to be stored during construction for the concrete mixed on site. This was a holding tank and the steps to facilitate getting the water out as the level went down.

1 comment:

Mrs. Smith said...

What a fun read. I'll have to remember the Crown Plaza, I feel the exact same way about the Marriot in Mumbai. It is hard to go back to the sad matresses and pathetic showers after a visit there! I also have to agree with your comments about Cindy. I have noticed that she always has a gaggle of women and children around her. She is instantly loved where ever she goes, apparently even by birds. She must have a little Snow White or Mary Poppins in her.