Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Workshop at Narmada River

On Tuesday we leave early in the morning for a several hours drive south, towards the Narmada river. On our way we see many groups of pilgrims who walk with drums and costumes towards shrines.

Our base is a hospital near the river Narmada. It is sponsored by a charity and provides free health care for the surrounding tribes. The area is very rural: the houses are built of mud, and it looks exactly like in the tribal museum that we have visited in Ahmadabad. It seems that several time epochs live here simultaneously in parallel: out current 21st century, with cars and mobile internet, and the century-old rural agricultural traditions of the local population.

The river looks very peaceful and quiet. The dam further upstream regulates the water and releases only a very small trickle. This has changed the whole river surroundings over the past years.

The workshop encourages the participants to reflections, writings, and paintings. A few students from the Sardar Patel University who have accompanied us, bring back a few paintings which they did while being in the river bed.

Unfortunately, the Tata Indicom mobile network appears not to be present here in the countryside, so I cannot provide a live update.

We then drive further to the large Narmada dam, which has been planned since the 1950 but has only recently been completed in its first stage. Further work is in progress, as the dam height is being increased further. Is an impressive structure, and the echoes from the people are divided: some say that it is a strong interference with nature, others praise its benefits for the population.

We drive towards a few visitor points with nice views onto the dam and the regulated water flows.

At the base camp in the hospital, our group divides: most of us return back to Vallabh Vidyanagar, but three of us (including me) drive further towards Surat, where we will meet with a local educational institution which seeks links to UK educational institutions.

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