Welcome to the official blog for Raleigh India 12I | July - August 2012

Welcome to the Official Blog for Raleigh India 12J September - December 2012.

Friday 30 January 2009

The fieldbase family gears up for trek training!

(The team, roughly from left to right: Andrew, Girish, Lucy, Vijay, Ivan, Matt, Jen, Julie, Amanda, Joe, Deepak, Peta, Caz, Caroline, Liz, Paul, Neil, Mark, Peter, Dani, Gavin, 60/60, Dr Andy.)

Raleigh India field base is at Latitude 12 degrees 17’451 and Longitude 76 degrees 40’234.

It took most of this morning for the staff team – including the 10 newcomers who arrived early on Wednesday morning to Bangalore airport –to sort out the exact location of Field Base on the international scale during map reading training.However with careful guidance from Country Programme Manager, Mark Ashby, the team has got it now and has been busily plotting the weekend’s trek training route on to maps. (right: the main staff team en route from Bangalore check out fellow road users)

It has been a whirlwind tour for the newcomers to fieldbase, which includes:

Andrew and Dr Andy, our new medics who have been carefully stocktaking the FB medic office with Advance Team medic Caz.

Ann, our wonderful photographer has joined the Public Relations office. Ann has already confessed in real life she is an accident and emergency nurse who danced at the Moulin Rouge as a 20-year-old.

And our crack squad of Project Managers (PMs) Matt, Neil, Liz, Jenny, Peter, Joe and Caroline have joined Ivan to complete the team.

(Left: Matt during boot camp discovers the steps of Chamundi Hill)

Like the advance team, it was a veritable baptism of (very much voluntary) fire as Deputy Program Manager Dani and resident blogger (PRO Peta) ran a quick boot camp on their very first morning.

For most, it was a great chance to see the outskirts of Mysore come to life and get their first taste of the steps of Chamundi hill.

From there, it was an intense morning of phonetic alphabet training and we all learned that spelling Kalayanahala (the location of the Raleigh India 09C eco-sanitation project) using the phonetic alphabet sounded an awful lot like “alpha alpha alpha alpha.”
Today (Friday) started with a sock war which Jenny emerged from victorious – you’ll have to play the game as it’s pretty hard to explain in writing but let’s just say she had a secret strategy of managing to get fellow team members separated from their chosen footwear.

Tomorrow we head off for a two-day trek training course which will be lead by Ivan and Peter who have been briefing the team on exactly what to pack in their rucksacks.

The answer to which is, of course: Not much.

For a bit more random stuff, check out this link to get the recipe for Australian damper which was whipped up and cooked over the open fire to feed the troops at dinner on Australia Day. Although there were a few substitutions made in the recipe as self-raising flour is hard to come by in India... as is fresh milk.

And bookmark this page: I promise you Monday's blog will be full of news from trek training!

Monday 26 January 2009

96,000 light bulbs and Republic Day in India

The Maharaja’s Palace of Mysore is lit up every Sunday night from 7pm to 8pm by 96,000 lightbulbs.

As a result the marvel of the palace was even more spectacular to see for the Advance Team on their first Sunday night after a week of fairly regular power cuts.

It was also a bit of a cultural experience, with thousands of locals crammed at the gate of the Palace just before 7pm waiting to get in. The queue stretched around the block and the carpark was a chaotic yet coordinated field of auto-rickshaws, cattle-drawn carts and vendors carrying wares such as glowing tiaras, balloons, watermelon and roasted nuts.

It was worth taking the brief time-out ahead of life and Fieldbase getting busier up with the remainder of staff due to arrive within days and a full and exciting training programme about to kick off.

(Above: DPM Dani, Medic Caz, Admin Lucy and PRO Peta outside the palace)

The palace was another great sight of Mysore that the team has taken in since arriving, the first being the market and the second, a quick jaunt up all 1100 steps of Chamundi hill on Saturday morning to check out the Chamundeswari Temple at the top.

(Above: finance Paul and admin Lucy at about the 660-step mark. Below left: the Chamundeswari Temple queue)

It was a timely reminder that India is full of life: Even at the top of the mountain, there was a school and a busy temple packed with people.

Meanwhile, our Deputy Programme Manager Dani has taken the pressure off boot camp (which is purely voluntary!) and we substituted with a rather relaxed yoga session instead on Sunday morning.

Driver 60/60 joined us again, and put us all to shame in the lunge pose! We’ve got plans to do it again, with a suitably-titled “Shilpa Shetty’s yoga for beginners” DVD procured at the local bookshop.

That might have to wait until tomorrow though, because today – January 26 – has turned out to be a pretty busy day.

Firstly, it’s India’s Republic Day so many of Mysore’s residents are on holiday. It is India’s 59th Republic Day, which marks the signing of the national constitution.

It is also Chinese New Year and in recognition of the Year of the Ox, Chinese stir fry will be served at field base.

And last – but not least – it’s Austraila Day and as resident Aussie, the PRO has arranged shrimps on the barbecue (seriously), a there's probably a game of Frisbee on the agenda. (below: DPM Dani - who has lived in Australia for six months - HCV coordinator Vijay and PRO Peta in front of the Australian and Indian flags)

Everyone has been kitted out with Australian flag tattoos and stickers to celebrate, although there’s a lot of work to be done first (Dani is madly dusting the PRO desk as this is being written) in preparation for the arrival of staff on Tuesday.

We’re so looking forward to their arrival!

Oh, one last thing: Julia, our Logistics Coordinator, has returned to Fieldbase for her second consecutive Raleigh Programme. Julia has been trekking through northern India and Nepal for the past four weeks and said she’s wrapped to be back on base.

“I’m looking forward to sleeping in the same bed for more than one night in a row!,” she said.
(left: Julia with Country Programme Manager Mark Ashby)

Thursday 22 January 2009

Raleigh India 09C fires up!

So the dust has been blown off the keyboards, the office swept out and the Raleigh India 2009 advance team has hit the ground running.

And we say running rather literally. Our new Deputy Programme Manager Dani dragged everyone (well, those willing, anyway) out of bed at a rather unsociable hour for our first morning at Field Base and took us through the new “Raleigh Boot Camp”.

Fortunately she only made the handful of rather jetlagged Advance Team members run up about 50 of the 1100 steps which wind up the side of Chumundi Hill which stands sentry Field Base. Dani has suggested that by the end of Raleigh, we’ll be doing the whole lot although the rest of us think that will be wishful thinking.

That said, It was quite fun to get out in the cool of the morning and watch as the city of Mysore came to life, complete with tea shops, monkeys, cows (more on those later) and locals wondering what on earth this bunch of people wearing Raleigh t-shirts was doing marching in file at 7am.
We were even joined by driver 60/60 who showed a particular gift for marching, helped by able Country Programme Manager Mark Ashby.

For the rest of our second day at Field Base, the Advance Team hit Mysore to check out the shops (much to the chagrin of Ivan, who had little interest in “four hours of shopping” but possibly enjoyed it despite himself.)

The city was populated by bright yellow cows. Apparently they were painted for the Pongal festival which also involves coaxing the cows to jump over a fire for prosperity. Paint is still selling hot at markets ahead of the Holi festival in March, during which the people are the ones that end up splattered in paint. And not just yellow.

While the Advance Team was finding its feet, Country Director Gavin has been working with our project partners to make sure everything is ready for the arrival of the Venturers. He’s also celebrating the start of just the second year of Raleigh India.

“We’ve learnt a lot in the past year and we are so well set up for this expedition, I’m so excited about it. I think it really will be the best ever,” he told the advance team upon arrival.
For the rest of the permanent staff, Amanda has been busy stocking up the logistics storeroom, Vijay is working with our local venturers and Mark has been…

…Mark has probably been wondering how he ended up with such a motley crew in the Advance Team.

We’re looking forward to the arrival of the main staff and of course the Venturers. We’ll let you know what we get up to!

The Team:

Dani, Deputy Programme Manager (pictured left): Resident South African Dani is back for her second Raleigh experience, the first was in Costa Rica two years ago. She’s already taken part in some retail therapy and has some advice for the girls heading to Raleigh for this expedition: Don’t forget the long pants and long-sleeve shirts - at least to cover shoulders!

Ivan, Adventure Programme Manager: Ivan is returning for his second Raleigh India programme and has been teaching the remainder of the Advance Team the ropes, including how to cook porridge.

Caroline (Caz), Medic (in the red T-shirt with Dani, Luce and the CEO of Apollo Hospital): Emergency Department nurse at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, Caroline has been introduced to the medic room at Field Base and also the local hospital. A quick visit to the top-notch Apollo Hospital resulted in a personal guided tour from a senior doctor. “It’s absolutely world-class,” she said after the tour.

Lucy, Administration: Patent lawyer Lucy has discovered some of the best stationary can be picked up at the Mysore markets which are wall-to-wall scissors and staplers.

Paul, Finance (left, with the bananas): Bean counter Paul couldn’t get over the bananas at the Mysore market. “I’ve never seen so many bananas in my life. There’s no way they could sell them all.”

Peta, Media Officer: I have only a slightly less-weird accent than Dani, hailing from Australia, and I’m hoping we’ll have some budding photo-journalists among the Venturer group who might be looking to help out with the next magazine!