Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A Driptech System at Hanslok Ashram

It was a pleasant Tuesday morning in the capital – New Delhi. Sarah Lee, an LGT fellow and myself, Aarthi Vijaykumar, India Product Manager, drove to Hanslok Ashram, a retreat camp about 35kms from the center of Delhi but still within the Delhi city limits. A beaming Ms. Sapna met us at the entrance and showed us around the Ashram – the meditation centre, the cow sheds, the mustard farm, the orchards and the huge auditorium under construction which would have a seating capacity of 5000. As we explained the system to Ms. Sapna, its design and benefits, we had a very unusual audience also listening intently – MONKEYS!

Ms. Sapna soon showed us the plots of land. The vegetables grown supplied the Ashram Kitchen. We were to complete a half acre installation and we keenly looked for a piece of land which was yet to be planted. We decided to install the system on the land where 1/4 acre was bare and the other half had potatoes which were soon to be harvested. We noticed that the current method of irrigation was through furrows which were about a foot and a half deep. It took the caretaker 2 days to completely irrigate the entire farm of 1 acre. We then made a list of all the fittings that would be required to connect the water source to the Driptech system and went with Ms. Sapna to the local pipe store. We requested that the owner send us the pipes at the earliest possible time. He said he would deliver them to the farm at 8:30 am the next day.

Sarah Lee and I hurried through breakfast to get to the farm on time. Beaming Ms. Sapna greeted us at the Ashram and we left immediately for the farm. On arriving at the farm, the store dealer said it would take another 10 minutes to have the material delivered. We decided that as we waited for the PVC pipes and other fittings to arrive, we could begin cutting the Driptape to the length of the plot. Ms. Sapna called the farm hands together to brief them of our plan and asked them to assist. Almost immediately, the farm hands divided into two groups and some men started walking away. Numerous questions plagued my mind – do they not want to help, are they insulted to have women instructing them, what is the real issue?! On enquiring, I realized that all the workers who were uneducated were being sent off. Immediately I explained to Ms. Sapna that a Driptech system was non-technical. It is straight-forward and can be installed by following simple diagrams. Ms. Sapna gave a loud yell and we had more enthusiastic hands helping with the installation.

It was almost lunch time and numerous calls had been made to the pipe dealer but the delivery hadn’t arrived. We realized that empty stomachs made us more annoyed and we headed to the Ashram Kitchen for lunch. The all vegetarian lunch was amazing and the salad was as fresh as ever. We returned to the farm and were happy to see that the pipes had finally arrived. We explained the system to the caretaker of the farm and the plumber. The caretaker was unimpressed. He said that he didn’t think the system would add any value. Ms. Sapna told him that we would install it, he could have a look and then give us feedback. His sarcastic smile said it all. The local plumber on the other hand was eager to see and called his teenage son to be trained to set up the system. He soon connected the water source with fittings to the submain of the Driptech system.

With all the fittings in place, we began our performance. We laid out the submain, drilled the holes, fit the grommets and take offs, and flushed the system to remove all particles of plastic and mud from the pipes. Then the interesting part began, we closed the pipes with end-caps and connected the laterals to the take-offs. It was five in the evening and the sun had begun to set. We decided to turn on the system. Everyone stood back. Little kids soon passed the news to the neighbours who looked intently over the wall. One of them even climbed the tree to have a better view. The water came from a ¾ inch outlet and slowly began to fill the submain and shoot out of the holes from the laterals. Driptech once again had created an environment of awe. The caretaker broke the silence.“It is wonderful, “ he said, “something I never could have imagined.” Almost immediately, everyone started praising the system. They all saw the value and savings in terms of water and labour.

The Driptech team trained the caretaker on usage and maintenance of the system. The Driptech system with its water spouts looked brilliant in the setting sun. Chips and chai from the caretaker’s wife was a loud gesture of their gratefulness.

1 comment:

saha said...

Nice writeup. Good photos