Karl's Journey

Sunday 4 December

It’s early morning and we are all on-board our Air India flight on our way to Ahmedabad India via New Delhi. I’m excited about our adventure ahead and a widening of personal horizons as I start to realise that I am now a foreigner on a flight to a new country.

Sunday 4 December

It’s late at night and we have finally arrived at Ahmedabad Airport. Time to catch up with our fellow adventurers who also took the same flight from New Dehli.

Monday 5 December

It’s early in the afternoon and there’s nothing like a curry in a hurry! Everyone is starving and both sets of students from the University of Sydney and the University of Melbourne are eager to get to know each other over some traditional food.

Monday 5 December

We are being welcomed by Kartikeya V. Sarabhai, the founding director of Centre for Environment Education (CEE). He is explaining to us the wisdom of teaching and the importance of sustainable development if India hopes to compete with other leading countries in the future.

Monday 5 December

The first day of many with our awesome group - Team Peafowl. Here we are chilling out in the beautiful CEE campus grounds at Ahmedabad as we bond over fun group activities.

Tuesday 6 December

At the CEE campus workshops, learning about current Indian perceptions of development and sustainable development.

Tuesday 6 December

Here we are during our scavenger hunt. Wow, how many people can you fit in one tuk tuk, and more importantly, who’s driving?

Tuesday 6 December

We are trying to find some transport back to our hotel after the scavenger hunt. Luckily these guys know English and can help us out by bargaining our way home!

Wednesday 7 December

Exploring the markets near the Old City. There is a sense of calm and tranquillity in the morning as locals sweep the streets and prepare for business during the day. Quite a few of us bought traditional clothing from nearby shops the day before to wear during our trip.

Wednesday 7 December

Exploring the Old City of Ahmedabad. The architecture is hundreds of years old and there is a deep sense of tradition and pride as you walk around this heritage listed site.

Wednesday 7 December

Exploring the Adalaj Stepwell during a particularly hot day. There is an immediate change in temperature as the air gets cooler and cooler as you walk down the Stepwell.

It’s amazing to think that centuries ago the people of Ahmedabad built this architecturally precise temple, designed to facilitate a cool airflow and shade at the hottest times of the day so that travellers could rest during the hot Indian summers.

Wednesday 7 December

Relaxing on the lawns of the CEE campus after a long day out. Our hosts kindly give us an upbeat and culturally vibrant puppet show to ease us into the night.

Wednesday 7 December

A wonderful outdoor feast to finish off an amazing day. A particularly special day for Lili, as it is her birthday. We celebrate in style with a surprise birthday cake after dinner!

Friday 9 December

At last we are on our way to the village community. There is so much life in India, even so far away from the city of Ahmedabad, life still moves at a crazy pace. Here we are waiting for a railway crossing to pass before we can go through.

Friday 9 December

Taking a much needed break from the long bus journey. We stop at a CEE office midway to our village of Mangadh to have lunch.

Friday 9 December

It’s not a proper adventure without some kind of hiccup! Not long after lunch our bus breaks down. We use the extra time to admire the rural scenery and learn about the rapid expansion of the Juliflora. The Juliflora is a native Mexican shrub which was introduced to Gujarat to impede the spread of the Kutch desert. It has now become an overgrown weed.

Friday 9 December

After travelling for almost the entire day we finally arrived at Mangadh. Relieved and hungry we meet our host families who give us a very warm welcome. We get to know each other as we exchange clumsy greetings in Gujarati. ‘Namaste’, which is the Hindi greeting, and ‘Jaycee Krishna’ which is the local greeting in Mangadh.

Friday 9 December

Team Peafowl share a much awaited dinner, as everyone digs into their family style Gujarati cooking and unwinds after a long day.

Saturday 10 December

We split off into smaller groups to meet with the local villagers of Mangadh. Everyone is pleasantly surprised by the warmth that is shown by the villagers, and we are treated like esteemed guests or close family. The community in this photo are the salt farmers of the Kohli caste. A group of strong, well-meaning people who always act with courtesy, despite being one of the less wealthy castes.

Saturday 11 December

Making the most of the time I have here, I am invited by one of our translators to go for an early morning trek around the village. One of the first things I notice about the village is the serene beauty that is everywhere. It is a stark contrast to the busy congested city of Ahmedabad and really makes me appreciate the natural beauty of India.

Saturday 11 December

Here I am exploring the village to learn more about life in Mangadh. I am currently standing on a large bund wall. This wall separates the reservoir in which the villagers keep their vital agricultural water and the village waste.

Saturday 11 December

I am out for a late night jog with the boys in the village. Although a bit obscure in the background, this shot is taken in front of a small temple at a nearby river.

Monday 12 December

Second last day at Mangadh, we thank our host families by having a group photo with them. Their generous hospitality makes living without the creature comforts of Sydney all the more worth it.

Monday 12 December

While we may speak many different languages, we are making so many good friends in Mangadh, and I know that these experiences will stay with us forever.

Monday 12 December

Surprise - I never thought that I’d be celebrating my 21st birthday in India surrounded by so many good people to share the experience with. A special mention to Moyun and Ayut of CEE who organise to have a cake picked up at the nearest major town, which is several hours away. After so many nights of curry, everyone enjoys some Western dessert. My friends decide to make my birthday more memorable by smearing cake all over my face!

Tuesday 13 December

With our friendly translator and guide Moyun by our side, team Peafowl and the community of Mangadh exchange farewells. We are very grateful to the people of Mangadh who have been fantastic to us, and have allowed us to learn so much from each other. The resourcefulness of the villagers in creating simple but effective solutions to everyday problems is very impressive.

The amazing experiences shared with the people of Mangadh allows me to develop my understanding of humanitarian engineering and provides me with ample opportunities for personal development.

Tuesday 13 December

Our last night at Mangadh. The community gathers at the town centre to farewell us. We are all very touched by the number of people who come to say goodbye to us. It is an emotional night as we reflect on the wonderful experiences that will stay with us forever.

Friday 16 December

We have now relocated to Jasdan to work on our design and prototype before the final presentations. We go out for another morning trek, and climb a nearby hill to enjoy the beautiful scenery of the giant wind turbines nestled between the farms.

Friday 16 December

We head out into town to buy materials for our prototype. It is particularly difficult adapting our design to the resources available in the town, as there are no large industrial suppliers like Bunnings, so we have to make do with whatever we can find.

Saturday 17 December

Lots of nerves - presentation day is here.

Saturday 17 December

It’s finally our turn to present! We set up our posters and position our model. The team are surprisingly calm during the presentation despite the limited time for preparation. Our idea of a salt raking hand machine is positively received and several members of the community panel speak to us in detail about our idea.

Sunday 18 December

The last official day of the trip. Having returned to the city of Ahmedabad, after a week in the village, it is nice to finally have a warm shower. The feeling that the trip is almost at an end hasn’t sunk in yet, and people are very emotional from all the experiences we shared. This shot is taken at the entrance to the CEE campus in Ahmedabad. It is truly fascinating how wildlife can live in harmony with the people of the CEE campus.

Sunday 18 December

Graduation ceremony at the CEE campus at Ahmedabad. A great night to cap off the whole adventure. India, you were ‘Bo Saras’. This translates to very good in Gujarati.