Thursday, April 16, 2015

Bihar: Gaya, Patna, and Purnea

In early February, my team and I visited the state of Bihar to conduct a field survey for two village we are hoping to electrify. The trip brought us to the state capital Patna, Gaya district, and Purnea district as we visited the villages, evaluated community outreach partners, and saw existing off-grid solar projects on the ground. Given Bihar's reputation as a lawless and underdeveloped state, we were happy to complete the trip without being kidnapped by Naxalites - the Maoist insurgents active in the area. In retrospect, we were pleasantly surprised that state was nearly not as defunct popular lore led us to believe (although we did have to spend a night in the Patna train station after one of our trains was delayed by eight hours).

That being said, much of the state still lives in poverty: it is humbling to visit villages without access to the electrical grid and where the value of the camera around my neck could easily be more than a household's annual income. The upside of the trip was that we were able to see solar starting to spread to off-grid areas through local NGOs, startups, and module distributers. These photos don't show much solar, mostly because I don't find solar panels or LED lights to be terribly visually compelling, but hopefully off-grid electricity access can be the topic of a future photo essay. In the mean time, here are some scenes from my travels. Enjoy! 

Purnea Rickshaw
A rickshaw driver pulls a woman through evening traffic in Purnea, Bihar.

Purnea Burger Stand
A street food vendor on the side of the road in Purnea, Bihar.

Bahsa Pipra Elder
An elderly man in Bahsa Pipra, Gaya, Bihar.

Boys peep into a small window opening to see our team reviewing the village map.

Bahsa Pipra Boys
Two boys from Bahsa Pipra village, Gaya district, Bihar.

Mapping out the village boundaries in Bahsa Pipra village, Bihar.

Village Map
A map of Bahsa Pipra village in Gaya, Bihar. The man who had the map told us that few maps of the area existed, and that he wouldn't give this copy to us even if we offered 10,000,000 rupees.

Self-Help Group
A women's self-help group meets in Badil Bigha village, Gaya, Bihar. The self-help group provides women with savings accounts and small loans - creating a link between the village and the formal banking system.

Patna Pickup
A rickshaw driver pulls a passenger along the road in Patna, the capital city of Bihar.

Thousands of Candles
A man lights up one of the many rows of candles in Bodh Gaya, Bihar.

Bodh Gaya Buddha
A sitting Buddhist figurine in Bodh Gaya, the location where Siddhartha attained enlightenment.

a quickr pickr post

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Grey Whale Cove

I was fortunate enough to return home to see my family in the Bay Area for two weeks in December. While I was home, a friend and I visited Grey Whale Cove - one of the many small beaches carved into the coastline in Pacifica. After more than five months in dusty Delhi, experiencing the Pacific Ocean, a clean beach, and a vibrant winter sunset was a treat. You can't find scenery like this in Delhi!

Grey Whale Cove
Grey Whale Cove 3
Grey Whale Cove 4
Grey Whale Cove 6
Sea Bubbles
SF Skyline
A bonus shot of the San Francisco skyline seen from the Strawberry Canyon fire trail in Berkeley.

a quickr pickr post

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Portraits of Dhankya

In early December, my team and I visited Dhankya, a village about 30 minutes outside of Jaipur in Rajasthan. Dhankya has been selected as a model village under Prime Minister Modi's Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana program, which requires every member of parliament to adopt a village and coordinate development efforts to make it a model village by 2016. My team is working on providing solar power to households and community buildings to supplement electricity from the erratic national grid.

I suspect Dhankya is representative of a number of villages in India - places where residents are close enough to city centers to have access to urban amenities and service sector jobs but where agriculture is still the primary economic activity. Compared to other villages in India, Dhankya is relatively well-off, enjoying good road connection to Jaipur and literacy rates higher than average for Rajasthan. However, the village still faces a number of serious issues like underfunded public schools (science isn't taught at the secondary school level), a rapidly falling water table, and poor sanitation practices. Through the course of our field visit I photographed many residents of the village, giving a look at some of the faces of semi-rural India. Enjoy!

Dhankya Children 5
Dhankya Resident 1
Mr. Camel
Dhankya Resident 2
Dhankya Children 3
Jaipur Haircut
Dhankya Children 4
Dhankya Children 1
a quickr pickr post

About Me

My Photo
Photographer, China enthusiast, climate & energy buff. Working in Delhi with the International Innovation Corps.



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