We made a picnic of it, though

On April 08, I began the day at 5.30am, picked up Venu and his three assistants and a car load of materials and equipment. Messrs Palani and Sridhar of Aureka [-the windmill suppliers] arrived from Auroville at 9am, Raju [-the pointReturn staff] at 10.30 from Chennai and Babu [-the reliable Reddiar] with Senthil [-the laughing lad] came from Peruveli. The day ended at 11pm for me but by then the windmill foundation had been cast and four large cement pipes had been aligned to form a culvert in the storm water canal at the western entrance to pointReturn.

The story so far: Three precast RCC foundation pillars for the windmill had been prepared by my machinist friend Venu. These along with other materials -sand, cement, aggregate and a few other bits and pieces- had been transported at considerable expense on March 25. They awaited representatives of Aureka, the windmill maker, to come and set precisely in place and integrate with RCC footworks.

Back in Dec, 06, I had bought 1m dia RCC pipes to build a culvert. On March 16, a backhoe [aka JCB] pushed them into the storm water ditch but was not dexterous enough to align them precisely. The pipes were unwieldy and too brittle for the JCB’s nudges. That job remained incomplete.

Venu is a young man with many ideas and is a very practical, hands-on guy. But he is a busy man, running his own machine shop. He is free on Sundays only. We met a few times and worked out an elaborate plan and a checklist so nothing went wrong. We would work with the Auroville team in the morning and after lunch, attack the recalcitrant cement pipes.

So, on Sunday, Apr 08, I drove out of my Adyar apartment at 6am. If I rose at 5.30, Venu’s young wife Mythili had risen at 4am to cook and pack a lunch for 6 men with robust appetites. We loaded tools, hardware, building materials, food and water into my commodious Toyota Qualis- five men got in as well. We stopped for a breakfast of pongal, vadai and coffee at Mamalla Bhavan, always a pleasant break. Then in one hour we were at the western front. pointReturn site lay about half kilometer away to the east, through fields. It was 8.30am.

Soon after we reached the site, Palani and Sridhar from Aureka arrived, followed by Babu, Senthil and Raju. It was full house. We began to work in earnest. First a datum line was established using a water level. From the datum, the bottom of the three pits were corrected to be at equal depth. Then a rough RCC mat was poured using 1 1/4″ stone aggregate in rich cement mortar.wMillFoundation The three precast pillars were attached to a square steel rod grid and lowered into the wet RCC base.[Photo: Venu, Babu, Palani and Sridhar cheer Senthil mixing concrete]

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