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 April 2010

Raleigh Round Up

It's the final countdown!

It is time to give you a round up on how all of the groups are doing and I am certain that you will be as impressed as we are at field base with the outstanding progress that has been made by the groups at this stage on Phase 3. It's the last push before we can all let our hair down, congratulate ourselves, reflect on the differences that we have made to others and finally allow ourselves to feel proud of our own personal achievements.

Echo 4 and Echo 5

We arrive at Echo 4 and 5 with our loop visit and we arrive with the rain. There are a few locals who rush to take their washing from the lines and the children take cover in the porch watching us with suspicious but interested eyes as we dash about trying to keep ourselves dry. What struck me on the journey to the environmental groups is how green and luscious Southern India has become due to the early start of the stormy monsoon season. The parched, red, dusty carpet that I considered covered Southern India has now been replaced by greenery and the change in the weather is matched by the change in the scenery all around me.

The location of the Echo Groups is so remote that I could not help but feel slightly stranded as I waved goodbye to the Bravo. No vehicles are allowed to remain in this dense, mountainous forest; a handful of children welcomed us but it would be wrong to call this a village as there are only three houses in sight and it is truly serene and calming to be here.  

The rain does not stop activities for long though as waterproofs come out and the camp craft continues.

It is wrong of me however to deal with these groups together as despite their close proximities there is still a hint of rivalry and although there is friendly banter and sometimes an odd meal which is shared between the groups there is still a fierce competition which keeps these two Echo Groups distinct. Therefore I shall deal with each in turn. (See later references to chickens.)

 So Echo 5 First!

I have not witnessed anyone as grateful as Harry when he received his guitar in the loop visit. We were then treated to his talent for much of my visit and the music created a group spirit that not even the rain could dampen.

There is definitely a male bonding in this group and the boys are well, they are boys and there is rolling and playful wrestling!

And then, well then, there are the chickens! Please meet Paul and Barry!

They have had what some call a "day trip" to Echo 4 whilst others prefer to call it a "kidnapping" by Echo 4. Who knows what the truth is behind their mysterious disappearance but they have now been safely returned to their pens. What I have witnessed however is that Paul and Barry are the only thing that cause a group divide within Echo 5. Some members want to eat them and skewer them with a break bar to make a lovely chicken tikka curry whilst others would guard these pets with their lives and want to gift the chickens to the children in the local village. All I do know is that they are yet to lay an egg and their lifespan may be lengthened if they could perhaps just produce at least one yolk. Perhaps it is best if I don't keep you updated on the chickens at Echo 5.

I should also mention that they have been working hard. They have cleared the 450 metre area and the fence posts are all concreted in. They have started painting and are all set to finish on time which means that they have earned their trip to Ooty on Sunday. I hope they have as much fun as the field base team although this is unlikely as we are generally hilarious here at field base.

Which brings me swiftly on to Echo 4.

I am informed that the Badminton trials take place over the weekend in England, well never ones to be left out, we have our own  slightly different version of the Badminton trials out here too but I think we have the edge in terms of entertainment.

Henry and James battle it out. I have to admit I can't remember who won but take my word it was on the edge of your seat stuff!

Some of the group preferred a good book..... in various positions........

Some passed the time with a good old fashioned catch up. I think I was informed that Sam was roped into reading Glamour magazine but then again it could be misinformation so I am reluctant to put my name to it.

So apart from chilling out, playing sport, gossiping and chicken stealing what else have the group done I hear you ask. Well despite this seemingly casual approach the group are well ahead of target and they have cleared their ground, the poles are firmly cemented in with fence wiring happening over the weekend. With an Ooty trip to celebrate on Monday I have nothing else to report for the time being.

Charlie 3

MYKAPS have complimented Charlie 3 several times as they are way ahead of their schedule. They have already dug 9 out of the 10 trenches that they are targetted to dig and the foundations for the rain water harvesting tank are as you can see well under way!

The trenches will protect the crops and prevent the topsoil from being washed away during the monsoon.

The group have been swimming in the lake to keep cool in their spare time.  There has also been time for some reading and merriment in the afternoons.

The bond with the villagers is also strong and the group have organised face painting sessions, a sports days and a whole range of activities to interact with the villagers. This is to be topped off by the large party to which the whole village is invited to at the end of the phase. Field base are flattered to also be invited and we will bring you the photographs and stories from this end of phase party at Charlie 3.

The group are off to Bylakuppe on the weekend which is one of the first refugee camps set up in South India which housed thousands of Tibetens who fled Tibet following the 1959 invasion. The area's highlight is the Namdroling Monastry home to the jaw droppingly spectacular Golden Temple presided over by an 18m high gold plated Buddha.

Charlie 2

The work that Charlie 2 have done for these tribal villagers is staggering. I returned on the loop visit with Sophie Cragg, our finance officer who spent a phase at the project, working as a Project Manager. The villagers rushed out to greet her and it was overwhelming to see the welcome that she received on returning to the village. Strong bonds with this village have been formed and life changing refurbishments to their housing have been created by Raleigh here. The groups from both phases should be very proud of what they have achieved here.

On a lighter note Bella shows me the goats and makes me laugh!

Guess where Charlie 2 are going on their trip? Hmmm its not hard as it's not very original. They too are off to Ooty. It is good there though so I will let them off and who knows they may have come up with the idea first.

So that leaves me to tell you about the trekkers. I am afraid there are no photographs as yet. It takes a day and a half to reach the trekkers and Claire our photographer and Sophie are not back from their visit until Monday. I promise therefore to deliver photographs then. In the interim I can tell you that Tango 7 did 22 kilometres in the heat yesterday and were resting up at Lakeside today in readiness for the raft race tomorrow. I have just this minute heard that it has been raining for the last 4 hours and the groups are battling with 5 inches of water. Some of the members have taken advantage of the tree house accommodation to shelter from the rain. Tango 6 have been on a trip at Kumili today and have been drinking chai, resting and having fun in preparation for their 18 kilometre trek to Hibuai tomorrow. Both groups are going strong and are injury free save for a few blisters and tired limbs. As I said earlier it's the final push.

Here is a photo that Kat Thomas took at fieldbase whilst she was waiting for the volcanic ash to clear.

The monsoon and storms have arrived in India!

Finally we are running a half marathon and a 10k race at the end of the phase. I will be producing the list of runners and more details tomorrow so log in and have a look. It is going to be so much fun. Bye for now


Poetry Corner

Poetry Corner

As we are nearing the end of the expedition I thought that by sharing some of the amazing talent that has been passed to me in the form of various poems this would be a good way of summarising the amazing experiences the venturers have had. I would like to thank all of the venturers on 10C for all of the material, thoughts, help and laughter that they have shared with me. They have made this job a delight and a pleasure!

A Ginger Man in India

A ginger man in India
Is a lonely man to be
He longs to taste a great big steak
But there's just Masala and Chapati

The heat is not agreeable
Suncream up or else go red
Such vicious risks are not a concern
If you visit Glasgow instead

So the awkward glances as he prances
Will force the orange one out
And the modest ambitions and sexist traditions
Are just not what he is about

It's by now you must have guessed
That its best for all concerned 
If the ginger chap with the oversized cap
Leave India and not return

A month ago I would have said
That the words above were true
Yes it was quite ideal for myself to feel
That in India I’d be screwed
But in a way I am so proud to say for once
That I was wrong
Though calm down now I won't somehow
 Start wearing a sarong!

It's just that Indian customs are admirally ruh
Their natives are so nice
That any man or woman (ginger or otherwise)
 Can live there happily, so long as you like rice!

 by Chris Devlin as he reflects on his time in Phase One at Ealamanna

Do you like Curry

Do you like curry?
The Ealamarans do
There is no sign of pasta here
 Nor a hint of Irish stew

At first it seemed a bit too much
The spice was soon released
But gradually as time went by
Our tolerance increased

The chefs in this fair village
Prepare two meals a day
For a group of Raleigh venturers
Who dig and carry dirt away

We did send up two helpers
Calm eager and keen to learn
Though shame they were both peelers
For fear the recipes weren't spurred

A favourite were chapatis
Many swallowed whole with ease
And once they even added chicken
Displeasing vegan Louise

And not forgetting the fluffy rice
A frequent lunchtime treat
All washed down nicely with a bourbon
A necessary sweet

How lucky are we chosen few
Who are known as Charlie One
To be served up such delicious food
In the Ealamanna sun.

by Chris Devlin as he reflects on his time in Phase One at Ealamanna


The wheels came to a stop after three hours drive
We stepped out with our eyes open wide
Greeted by the soft Ealamanna sun
Anticipating work and play and fun

The children stared from their smokey corners
As we heard the sound of the funeral mourners
And yet they smiled and greeted and waved
And we had arrived and were here to stay

The sun will set and the sun will rise
The village awakes as the cockerel cried
We wake and crawl in to the pit
And with a smile we get on with it

Steel hits the earth with the sharpest sustain
Whilst the bricks come down in a steady train
People sweat and rest and smile
And our project moves on mile by mile

Since we’ve arrived we’ve come so far
Laughing and joking under the stars
Friends right now and friends to be
We go to sleep and be happy

Charlie One is our name
A group, a team and friends the same
All so close with smiles all round
A team for life is surely found

by Harry Swinton a poem written in Phase One about his time in Ealamanna

Basher – time reading:

E.M Forster ‘A passage to India’

Old Mr Graysford and young Mr Sorley, the devoted missionaries wonder whether we can achieve Raleigh’s goal of global citizenship…..

Chapter IV “All invitations must proceed from heaven perhaps; perhaps it is futile for men to initiate their own unity, they do but widen the gulfs between them by their attempt.”

So far at Echo 4 the Parasanatham villagers have been incredibly inviting; from Chai tea in the farmhouse to filling our buckets at the well, they have helped us feel at home and we in turn hope to improve their beautiful home. There is no gulf. Our unity is the anathema of futile.

by Anna Jeffery reflecting on her time with Echo 4 in Phase One


Porridge….yep, that’s a good wholesome thing here in India. It gives us the energy to fetch the water for the day and haul it all back again. It gives us lots of beans for moving the machetes and building the bashers, it’s a great food which lasts us all the way until lunch. There are many variations that have been invented; porridge and jam, sugar, crushed biscuits, raisins, cake and occasionally the odd ant that wishes to share in the gloopy glory. All in all porridge is great….I just wish that I could like it!

By Wenna from her time at Echo 4 in Parasanatham

A Snippet of Time

So at this moment in time I’m sitting on a large jutting out boulder looking over a valley with hills towering up and above either side. A snapshot in time where you realize how the world is so much bigger than yourself. You know the beautiful simplicity of nature when you stop the ipod in your ears and the thoughts in your head and all you can hear is the wind flowing through the meanders of the trees. A single leaf mutters its protest as a twig grasps and holds it in its embrace, preventing it from continuing to its natural course.

by Alice Macleannan written in Phase One at Parasanatham

We begin strong selected soldiers

We begin strong selected soldiers
A blank canvas awaiting us
The distant hillside of the never ending
Highways of unstoppable force
We had arrived
One foot in front of the other

Greens, yellows, browns
Surround us, concealed and sheltered
Undulating ground descends only to ascend
Coated in sweat
We continue
One foot in front of the other

We enter deeper
Elephants, rats and spiders
Trip stumble and falls
Anger versus laughter
We are strong selected soldiers
One foot in front of the other.

a poem by Sarah Wilson which describes her Jungle Trek

Field base Roadtrip

Well it might seem like the fieldbase team just work, work, work and well sadly that is true we are the undisputed hardest workers (if you don't ask the Project Managers or indeed the venturers). However despite our work addiction we allowed ourselves a well earned and it must be said an hilarious road trip to Ooty the other day. You know it's going to be a good outing when the sun is shining, you pack the car, get on the road and within an hour you see an elephant out of the window ambling along. Sometimes India overwhelms you.

There was some debate about the quality of accommodation that we should stay at and we mooted staying at the Savoy for our mini break but it was finally decided that the Ooty Youth Hostel met all our needs and Claire, Sophie, Anna, Kev and myself checked into this establishment with enthusiasm; I must admit I had some reservations that there was a sign informing us that it was an extra 5 Rupees (roughly 12 pence) for a bucket of hot water and that lights were to go off at 10.30pm. My concerns however were unjustified as we received no bites from our bunk beds, no complaints about our noisy laughter and the water was well, it was refreshing!

The first thing we did was check out Doddabetta Lookout which is the highest point in the Nilgiris. The views were magnificient, if a little misty as we ignored the advice of the guide book and got there  later than was recommended.

Next a bit of shopping and it was so easy to browse a couple of hours away dreamily choosing nick nacks and souvenirs.

 Jacaranda trees are in abundance in Ooty and the bluey, purple flowers decorate the landscape making it a joy to chill on the grass, people watching and enjoying the surroundings.

Chocolate from Ooty is famous so we took advantage, ordering it by the kilo and made our way chubbily to the boats for an afternoon of messing about rowing slowly and unrhymically on the water.

We were accosted in the street by a palm reader who told us that Kev had a lucky face and had a great fortune ahead of him. We were intrigued enough to part with our silver and each in turn had our destinies revealed. Prashanth our driver interpreted for us. It was fun and some of the information that was imparted pleased us, so we chose to believe the mysterious Indian man.

We finished our little holiday roaming the botanical gardens and arboretum feeling refreshed and relaxed and ready to start planning the end of expedition party and wash up.

And finally a few Field Base Thank Yous

We have to say a quick thank you to Mark, Vijay and Sammy who had to stay behind at field base to man the ship allowing us to take some time to eat chocolate, kick back and row ourselves down the river.

Also a big thank you to Lauren McDonald's mum and Lowena Carlson's mum for the much appreciated confectionary. We have also received a few unidentified gifts of sweets so if you were the benefactor again A BIG THANK YOU!!

More to come later today on the groups and also more to come on our half marathon and the 10k race.....it's exciting so it is worth logging in today as I will be typing the adventures and stories all day. Stay tuned....