Ever since the first day I arrived at CHIRAG and laid eyes on Devrani, I knew we would have something special. Her fiery eyes and knowing smile drew me in. Over the last few weeks we have taken countless long walks and bonded over our similar taste in food. Of course, she is a dog so it’s probably not surprising that we both enjoy coconut biscuits and milk. However, she is not just any old ordinary dog. Stories about her bravery in the face of the local leopards and her legendary ability to chase terrified families of monkeys across the canopy are well known. She is the mascot/team leader of our group of interns. I am excited to continue hanging out with my partner in crime.
If there was a level of internet here greater than or equal to the wifi of a rundown saloon the old cowboys enjoyed there would be an awesome picture of Devrani here. Unfortunately there is not, so I will show you later.
In terms of what I am working on specifically this summer I am happy to report that I have become attached to an exciting piece of research, but first a little background. In India, the 2nd biggest killer is indoor air pollution that can cause a range of deadly chronic and acute health problems. The vast majority of the rural population still uses rudimentary mud stoves that are inefficient and unsafe. Inhaling the acrid smoke and particulate matter that is emitted by these stoves kill more people worldwide per day from related diseases than malaria or tuberculosis. In addition, these inefficient stoves waste wood fuel that takes time to collect and degrades nearby forests. Almost this entire health and time burden falls on the women and children of the household who spend countless hours in their kitchens and in the forests collecting wood fuel. However, the market for improved cookstoves that use less wood and produce significantly less harmful smoke has not been able to mature. Past barriers include high initial costs and low awareness levels in rural regions.
I have been working with two awesome PHD candidates on setting up a pilot program where three types of improved cook stoves will be presented to villages. We have trained a local sales team to give a clear and concise sales-pitch to the villages and obtain accurate survey data subsequently. The question being asked is what factors affect a household’s decision to purchase or not purchase an improved cookstove for their homes. This U.S Aid funded project coincides very well with my interests, with me being the happy little remora fish on the shark that is this project. The first stages of the pilot begin in the next few days so we will have to wait and see how it goes! (This blog post is outdated as I could not upload it for quite some time. More recently I have been in the field in a village called Gajjar leading the team and helping them understand the framework of the study. The amount of Chai and fresh peaches I am given at each household we visit ensures I am on a constant sugar high.)
This area of the Nainital district is truly beautiful. Every sunset is different, from a muted ball of light shrouded by the Indian haze to the wide pastel colored skies that make you appreciate the impressionist movement. The huge spiders don’t even faze me anymore as I continue to settle into this far away world. With the monsoons just around the corner, there is electricity in the air (literally and figuratively) as each approaching storm seems bigger and badder. Update: the rains are now absurd, the rain and hail is falling in passing waves of ridiculous ferocity. I have been trying to gather two of every animal, it’s not as easy as Noah made it seem.
Another picture would be here of a beautiful sunset. But I think the caption says enough.
Prettty, preeeetty preeetttyyyyy nice
Also, just to clarify for anyone who has sent me a message or email, there is literally no Internet here. To add insult to injury, for some reason when I try to use one of the scarce internet sticks here, my computer basically sighs and says in an exasperated tone “come on man” and promptly crashes every time. Being able to upload a blog post requires herculean inner strength and monk like patience. It is a refreshing change from the constantly distracted and connected lifestyle that goes along with high-speed wifi. However, it does takes time to understand how to not get frustrated when every work task takes 5x as long as it would if internet was available. Its crazy, daily human interaction is actually necessary : (.
Well until next time. To everyone I haven’t talked to, everything here is fantastic and I am sending love your way.
Another new development: my tonsils recently looked like the face of the Predator in the classic Schwarzenegger action flick Predator. If you don’t know what that is look it up and be disgusted. However, the antibiotics seem to be working and I am getting better, and the swelling is going down. Just thought you should know.