Status report: June, 2009

In the two years I have been active at pointReturn, ten households in the nearest hamlet Anna Nagar, have locked up and moved away. Five brothers sold their inherited property and took off in different directions; Kutty my first handyman, moved to a town 100km away to work as a loader for a contractor who does demolitions and clearing. A couple more have leased out their farms to go work in cooking teams for events, or as daily wage labourers in the city, in road gangs and as autorickshaw drivers. Sami, who succeeded Kutty as the handyman no longer shows up as he has leased land from one of the departees- he can’t get helping hands himself and toils all by himself with some relatives coming over sometime. In the recent peanut harvest, work that used to be done in two weeks extended to six, as the same harvesting gangs moved from one field to another.

So shortage of helping hands is a reality I must live with. But how? One, I have taken to staying over for two nights in a row every week at the site and try to do the labouring myself -painful, slow and amateurish maybe, but something does get done. Two, Chellamma, the lady who has been at work in my Muttukkadu farm for 20 years camps with me and Raju those two days. She’s a pocket dynamo- small, energetic, enthusiastic and smart. Annamalai, father of Kutty and Sami is a frail 70 and shows up everyday and sits it out. He works too at light jobs. He stays over with us. We dig, we haul, clean up and do whatever we can. We mix mud, do repairs, build mud walls. We cook in the cosy kitchen in the Rocket Stove using mud pots, share the meals and sleep long and good through the silent cool nights. Raju of course is there everyday, commuting 80km each way by bus. He and Annamalai do the watering of trees and the odd light jobs.

That’s the game at pointReturn now: a holding operation at best. How does the project grow from here? One, I must think of some kind of machine to help out with the grand earthworks plan in my dreams- in fact I am close to buying some machine muscle. Two, I must create facilities to attract volunteers to stay for longish periods.

7 thoughts on “Status report: June, 2009

  1. Hello Mr. DV,

    I’m following the posts here as well as on twitter closely…One problem with the twitter though – We miss the thinking process / the emotional highs / lows and photos which you were describing in the posts on website posts….those were more important…because that is what matters in such projects. Twitter gives just the plain updates. Hence, request you to start giving updates and yes – photos etc on the website articles.

    – Kedar

  2. shobhan…
    you make a good point. active RWH and recharge is the next major exercise at pointReturn. the problem is, the pond’s floor is impervious clay, in the summer when water is most needed, the windmill has poor supply and the hardpan soil all over the site facilitates rapid runoff.
    the solution is to trap rain water where it falls and guide it underground.

  3. DV,

    I have read all the articles. I am a regular visitor to your site. I wish your pR to be a success.

    I have a question though. When you had rain last year, there was excess run-off from your site. Also any excess pumped by the windmill goes into the network of pipes you have installed. Why not make all these excess water be led into the borewell itself? It will stay there as is and you can use when you want it? you can install a filter ( RWH type) which will clean the water and then let into the borewell.
    Let me know what to do you think about it.

  4. We totally understand your pain. Some 8000 of our tree saplings went without watering because the motor failed and the repair service men made mistakes on top of it. But most of these saplings survived with two feeble showers in between.

    I read somewhere that plants decide very early whether they can survive or not. They do not waste time and energy growing up into sick adults.

    Incidentally, we read a couple of pieces recently that lifted our spirit.

    Kareem’s forest

    The Man Who Sowed Gandhi and Reaped Happiness – from GNI!

    Our village near Coimbatore received a fair amount of rain today. Hope the clouds go where you are too.

    Ragu and Nisha@greenlocal

  5. Wow. This was a very interesting article DV. Thank you for such an honest and lucid piece.

    I am wishing the wind brings you rain soon :)

  6. Dear DV,

    Good to see an update on the happenings at PR.

    The whole project is indeed a mighty challenge,and one can clearly visualize the amount of endurance, and resourcefulness that’s needed to pursue and progress.

    Results apart, I am sure you are having a great experience in all of this. and is certainly inspiring to follow whats going on.

    As for a shower, I am sure a whole lot of us are already praying for it :) its probably just a week away.


Leave a Reply