On a very hot Sunday afternoon yesterday, with temperatures reaching the high 90os F (high 30os C), colleagues (Priya Chetri, Srishti Minocha and Anushruti Vagrani) at IIT Delhi kindly took me out into the Haryana countryside where they are conducting a baseline survey on the use of mobile devices by farmers. In the first instance, this is investigating how helpful meteorological forecasts are to the farmers, but in the longer term it is also going to explore how sensors might be able to provide more refined information that would enable farmers to increase yields and thus profitability.
This was a great opportunity to immerse myself once again in the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and touch of the Indian countryside. We spent most of our time talking with farmers in the large village of Alawalpur, but after the interviews were over we were also shown one of the village’s special sites, the Baniewala Mandir. The temple itself was fascinating, but I had never expected to find the 500 cattle that are so well cared for alongside. The freshly made chai massala made from their milk after the interviews were done was absolutely delicious!
I hope that the following pictures reveal something of the adventure. I learnt so much, and am very grateful to Priya, Srishti and Anushruti for taking me there and to Dr. Upasna Sharma for arranging the trip.
I first visited Abu Dhabi in 1980; there was construction everywhere and part of me wished I had been there 20 years earlier! The changes since then, though, have been enormous, and it is very hard to recognise any of what I experienced then in the modern city of today. As part of my ongoing project of digitsing my slides from 30-40 years ago, I hope that the selection below captures something of the city as it was at that time: the juxtaposition of small new mosques with high-rise buildings; the contrasts between the greenness of the agricultural projects at Al Ain, and the urban concrete of Abu Dhabi city itself; the differences in wealth between local citizens and immigrant labourers who were mainly from South Asia; the belief that pumping oil could create cities, whereas pumping water from the underground aquifers could turn the desert green; the rather sleepy atmosphere that pervaded the place; the beauty and colours of the dhows on the blue, blue sea; the markets on the streets where one could buy everything from animals to all sorts of imported goods from containers; the mysteries of the suq…
Working with my dear friend and colleague, Sudhir Wanmali, in what was then rural South Bihar (now Jharkhand) in the mid-1970s was one of the most influential times of my life. It taught me so much: that rural people are universally exploited by those living in urban areas; that rural life in South Asia is incredibly hard; and that South Bihar (as it was then known) is amazingly beautiful. I very much hope that the images below show something of that inspiration, but they cannot sufficiently capture the smells and sounds of rural life in India in the 1970s.