Friday, August 30, 2013

First time in a State official vehicle...

a beautiful Kerala State... Ambassador!!!

Another day of meetings with officials of Trivandrum Municipal Corporation, health officers…
They were all very kind, and very helpful, a lot more trying than the guy from Suchitwa Mission, which is supposed to be a helping body between Government bodies and local entities, giving guidelines on waste management: I had an appointment with the director at 10am and finally saw him for 15min at 4pm.
Whole day… wasted! TII: This Is India!
The next day turned as a dream, my dream: a day touring around Trivandum waste facilities on the back of... a Royal Enfield.

Any official vehicle near Villapilchalla would create some real problems, strikes... so the motorbike was incognito!...I felt like a garbage...spy!

But Gosh is it difficult…to get info, to get the authorization to ask for info, to understand those info, not only from the language barrier but just as well from systems differences, governance incredible complications.
Yesterday I met with the chief Health Officer and after 2 written letters on the spot to explain why I was there, where from, what I really wanted, in details… one to her and one to … the additional secretary (the name itself…) then doors opened.
Actually people were really nice and friendly.
It is just the system, which so bureaucratic, so heavy in fact.
It kind of sets the tone for the rest of my visit.
A dump fill, a waste treatment plant that was closed last year because… built in the territory of a panchayat on Tvd Municipality land… where people striked to get it closed…
Smells, leakages…numerous sanitary, health problems at the front, inextricable political battles of power in the back between Congress Party and CPM.

Well in a nutshell, I was now facing a city of more than 1mio people without a waste treatment plant, with numerous salvage points of waste dumping in the middle of the city, called temporary solutions…
In the morning a few meetings with Health Officers, juniors, seniors give me a sense of the complexity of the problem: a governance embedded between central regional government, Municipal Corporation and outskirts villages, panchayats with their own rights and blocking possibilities.

In the case of the dump fill of Villapilchalla, the Municipal Corporation had acquired 56 hectares of land back in 2000 and converted it into a dump fill in their full ownership rights. But after recurring leaking problems surrounding villagers started to block access to the place, striking…
Central government does not like contestation especially when CPM party (Communist party of India) replaces Congress Party.
A majority of key posts in every corporations in Kerala are elected hence very submitted to political decisions.
Which in this case made everything even more complicated.
The dump fill site closed in dec 2011, against a Supreme Court decision.

Leaving a city of 1mio people without Dump fill solutions.
Well this may have the good effect of forcing the Municipality to really find decentralized solutions and non dumping ones.
Like those pipe composting individual house solutions or those bio-bins as well for composting in Flat buildings... looking like coffins!

But the current choices are merely addressing 20% of the waste generated.

How long with take until a plague occurs in those illegal dumping points like it did in Surat in 1994 after repeated floods?

Or simply to intoxicate people with toxic effluents from plastic burning... happening more and more...illegally, uncontrolled

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

3rd eye!

Waves are pounding, smashing everything on their way...
I don't know if they are in my head, my dreams or...
if it is my 3rd eye ... opening?

Visualizing like Brahmarshi Patriji said it would... if practicing every day!
So in a semi-sleep, instead of running to the beach like I would have before, like I used to, from our beach flat near confirm the sounds...
I patiently take a lotus position and start to meditate.

The past days have been so strong with that Swami from AP, playing flute next to me, speaking french my 3rd eye. I know that if I say that I saw him as Toulouse Lautrec, speaking french to me, you will make sure that when I arrive in Paris, Charles de Gaulle, I get locked up as soon as I land!

I sit here, silently, slowly letting myself taken by the rhythm of my breathing. Gently slowing down, allowing my thoughts to wander around, to surf in my mind, pass by and not bother me anymore.
Faces show up, feelings of foam, of powerful breezes, of salty water marking my eyebrows...
My hears are filled with rock sounds smashed... waves pounding... on them... on me... sitting there...waiting, waiting for the good one.
But slowly serenity, patience settles in.
She will come when the swell is right... when I am ready for it. No more cold expectations, no projections of how it should be.
The sun flashing on the wrinkles of the sea from a far, at times blinds me...

I have been blind so many times and ...death, too!
Not seeing to the signs written on the walls, water walls... listening to the murmuring of bubbles coming up, telling me not to drop in, not that one... to be patient, wait for the next one, the next set, the next swell even!
What is your rush? Become a father, a house, a dog, a nice car??

How much more to share when the time is right... how much more to embrace... to smile at the sea together... learn to do it... the rhythm of Nature.
To be thankful when finally you really see, sea, hear, feel throughout all your body that the time has come... to share... to grow, to go and discover further, to ride... hand in hand.

Y de lo bueno... mucho!
cada dia
todo los dias!
porque no sabes cuando vas a caer en esa ola, enorme, cuando te rompera...

expressing feelings, sharing them!

I dreamed a few days ago that I was sliding, taken off my feet in a big big wave at Mavericks, getting stuck under...

stuck in my expectations, my projections, visualizations?

waiting for an easy ride... of what I wanted... not what I need!

and I drowned...

just like I could have fallen from that cliff, that window.

Was it my 3rd eye opening already?

Today waves were big in Varkala....
it felt good...

...feeling small

And some more waste... in Trivandrum

after a short stop and darshan from Mother.
A great opportunity 2 days in this ICRIER workshop to meet key people from all around India defining policies around SWM, applying them, choosing technologies, approaches...

Monday, August 26, 2013

And back to... Ahmedabad…

this time just for a few hours to present at an Entrepreneurship Conclave from Nirma University, one of the best business schools in the country, and its MBA students.
10 min presentation but... to finish up in the end teaching a Social Innovation Class for a few 60's that had requested it.

A wonderful interaction with very smart and selected students, highly educated, well spoken, and some well travelled.

At the end of the day, waiting by my taxi door, I see that one student that had taken care of me the whole day....taking his shoes off.

I do not pay more attention to it than that, until he bows in front of me and reaches out for my feet.
Which in India is the highest mark of respect mostly for elders (which I hope is not yet my case!!!) ... for parents, grand parents.

I felt completely overwhelmed and took him back right away.

Understanding his gesture a few seconds after, I told him: "if you really want to give me a mark of respect, send me one of your social projects one day… one you will developed from ideas we discussed will make me really proud of that afternoon I spent with you…"

Then center of Ahmedabad: from rich students to poor kids... one rickshaw filled with school kids, tons of school bags hanging on the side...

Poor kids in the pole too, bur everywhere beautiful smiles!

And then off I went to my 3rd night train in a week! This time heading south… to Mumbai!

But not before having met with consultant Pathak from Eco Agro Green, solutions for poor communities… at the train station of Kalalur an hour or so, discussing solutions for outskirts of town, pro-poor solutions…

Dreams of implementation of pro-poor solutions filling my mind... did not slept much that night... had to wake up at 5am in any case! at a junction north of Mumbai...

Sunday, August 25, 2013

SMC, best in class for waste management...

especially since 1994, where a "so called plague" took almost 50 lives.
One week meeting the most amazing relentless servants of the state, of the city... dedicated to give their best to their duty, their mission, improve Surat Municipal services.

From the Deputy Commissioner to the director of Khajod's composting plant, the same dedication, almost passion for waste, at least for a work done well.
Since my visit of those 2 cities in Gujarat, the main ones I am convinced that germans were there, some day...
Gujaratis are the germans of India: super organized, very rigorous, they do what they say, they say what they do... even very fussy on money... diamonds...machineries...
So much similarities and so far from all I had seen in the rest of India.

And of course the figures speak by themselves:
last 10 years Surat doubled in population, partly because of migrations, partly because of increase of the SUDA zone, Surat Municipal area responsibility.
Yet the problem remained: how to deal with almost double of the waste.
Various solutions were put in place:
PPP bids and engaging solutions by outsourcing to the corporate sector
strict controls of flows of waste by SMC
strict controls of bids and PPP contracts by financial department independent from the choice maker...


Friday, August 23, 2013

Amhedabad ....second impressions:

I realize that most of the aggressivity I felt in the first days here was probably…mine.
I was tired, a bit upset of having such a hard time to communicate with people, to find my way around… that I was taking some surprised and curious looks for aggressions.

Yet last night in a restaurant, that guy spent the whole evening pretending to speak English and asking us questions in either Gujarati or Hindi (I cant tell the difference) and it felt really overwhelming.
Once again a sense of low education at times, rudeness, even in nice restaurants like the one we were into.
But I must say that after the visit of Gandhi’s ashram along the Sabarmati river, a flow of peace took our trip quite by surprise.

We met these guides there that very kindly advised us on the best places to visit, to have local food…

And then a succession of positives circles happened: great meetings at IIMA, with the very passionate people of the CIIE, Akash and Shashank.

 A visit of spiritual sites: the beautiful mosque of Sidi Sayyeid, the magestuous Jain temple of Shree Nadanvan, absolutely stunning especially at sunset time,

where the colors of dying sun carve the stones of each pillor, balcony even further…

when the moon pretends to take up a lightning duty… to the sun!

and to finish the hindu temple of Kalupur Swaminarayan, which adoration to some feet represented are still a mystery to me, but the little wooden door in a back opening to a world of magic…Poles which could easily be confused for Rais of Marrakech of Fez!

And so much kindness of people, eagerness to welcome us in their homes, introducing us to each generation: the grand parents, the parents, the kids… 

Visitors and Gods and here… it is true!

The next day: oxbrige English to be heard everywhere… what happened???

We are in IIM A, the top business university in India, even harder to get in for Indians than Harvard!
And it reputation is justified.
Great facilities, case study based education… great teachers.
Like Anil Gupta who was proposing a workshop on MicroVenture seed funding for social innovation.
Very inspiring, very passionate people once again, and so much insight in the sector I am embracing in India.
I even got some great contacts for Surat!
What a day… not really memorable by the visit of Science City though, where the Shamengo project was supposed to be hosted…

Not gonna happen!!!