Another day waking up in India, in a small village called Phulnakhara. The birds are chirping, the horns are honking and it’s time to roll out of bed and get ready for morning exercise. I try to stay in bed but ‘Stronger’ by Kanye urges me out.
l leave on a run through the village and neighbouring villages. The suns up but it's quite foggy most mornings and the smell of the canal is intense, reminding me I’m in India.
Returning from the run I prepare to brace the cold shower that awaits me. Today is a big day. I am the Team Leader (TL) for the day and it’s Thoughtful Thursday (TT) - more on this later.
I’m also the breaky bandit, so myself and a fellow trekker and our Group Leader prep the eggs, porridge and breakfast condiments for the team.
It’s breaky time, everyone comes and goes as they get ready for the day but there’s always someone to converse with.
Breaky bandit resumes and we quickly pack everything up and prepare for the day.
TL meeting commences with a chorus of good mornings and positive energy in the air. We’re on the roof of our three-story house that fits all 21 trekkers and leaders. The TL meeting covers our most important tasks (MITs) for the day and anything the other teams could assist us with. I’m on the Energy team; there’s also fuel and agriculture but today the teams are working independently. Today’s MITs are going to a new area and surveying the local community about their energy reliability; next is adding to our solutions spreadsheet and exploring some alternatives like floating solar, a hybrid solar-wind solution and a microgrid and finally beginning our handover document for the next group of trekkers. Cost competitiveness has become key now as the current energy although unreliable is heavily subsidised and the cost is very important for the local community.
Team meeting commences at 08:36 sharp, you cannot be late because for every minute you’re late the team loses seven. We discuss our health data; mental and physical (out of five) and Bristol stool (a solid to a liquid scale of 1 to 7 with 4 being optimal). Today I’m a solid 5,5,4 and most of the team is feeling good too. We also discuss our MITs and divide the tasks as well as who is going out surveying.
We set up our desk for the day and crack into our work. I quickly choose a location to survey and ask Anwar (another team member) to look more into it.
I join in on a meeting with Fi, the Head of Commercialisation back in Australia. I and our usual TL Max discuss how our project is tracking.
I quickly organise my “Thoughtful Thursday”. Every Wednesday night we pull a name out of a hat and on Thursday you do nice things for them. I have Eva who does a lot of yoga (a lot of the trekkers do) so I’ve bought her a book called Happy Yoga with some vegan Oreos. I’ve also become a yoga fanatic.
Back into work and I need to organise a back-brief to the group leader to approve the new area and a SMEAC (Situation, Mission, Execution, Administration and Logistics, and Communication Plan) for the team going out to survey and empathise. Luckily Anwar is the master of both of these reports and there’s very little to do when I get back. After presenting the back briefly to the group leader everything is good to go for a 1200 departure.
After working on the solutions during the morning it's now time to get organised for our trip to Saleswar and cook lunch before we leave at 12:00.
SMEAC is presented to ensure we are all prepared, understand what are going to do, and have contingency plans for a variety of situations including media encounters, cultural sensitivity, medical emergencies and a lack of people to survey.
We head off to Phulnakhara which is the main village surrounded by many smaller villages to meet our local translator/intern named Sonee.
We hear from Sonee that she’s running late so we have some chai and wait for her at the bus stop.
Sonee arrives and we jump in a Tuk Tuk to Saleswar, about a 10-minute drive away.
After arriving in Saleswar we begin surveying the local area. At the moment we’re doing an offer test, which involves empathising with the community, especially about issues with energy and their negative effects. Blackouts can lead to sleeping outside when it's hot, an inability for children to study and a loss of income for small businesses. We ask a series of demographic questions and collect data on energy reliability, power bills and income as well as exploring potential solutions, such as solar to gauge interest. It’s important to explain we are a business as many think we’re associated with the government, a charity or a simply going to give them a solution.
The day is going well-collecting data: we’re exploring a new area and it seems that half the village is connected to one city’s grid, which is reliable, and the other half is connected to the other side, which is not. We meet a very nice man named Mr. Paresh who invites us in, gives us some drinks and sweets and lets us ask lots of questions, including questions about how the government works and what he thinks the causes of unreliability are.
We arrive home after a long day, getting back via Tuk Tuk to the house and saying goodbye to Sonee. The rest of the workday is spent inputting the data we’ve received and planned our MITs for the next day.
Evening briefing. It’s the end of the day and we Review and Recap (RnR) so the rest of the team knows what we got up to and what we learnt. As it’s a quickly evolving project and new information can change the direction of the project, it’s important to stay up to date with everyone’s progress. Finally, we go through our “improves” and “sustains”; basically what we as individuals and as a group could improve on the next day, and what went well and we need to maintain.
5.45 PM PM
Weekend debrief is next. Each weekend we travel and explore something new but we have to prepare an itinerary by Wednesday evening every week and our Group Leader gives us a risk debrief the following evening.
Because I’m still TL for the day, I attend the TL meeting where we discuss what went well, what could be improved, what our MITs were and if we achieved them as well as team morale. Today went quite well and despite a mix up with the translators, the morale was high. We usually lose energy in the afternoon but today everyone worked very consistently and got a lot done - so overall it was a pretty good day.
The workday is finally over. The evenings are usually filled with card games, reading or hanging out with the other trekkers and leaders.
Dinner time. Tonight is chickpea curry with rice and roti; the chef is amazing and the curries are always delicious.
After dinner, we have daily announcements, mostly just reminders to keep the house clean or any activities that are coming up for the whole group. This is usually followed by a very confusing riddle but by now I am getting better. The rest of the evening is our own, but usually consists of more cards, reading and chatting. It’s great to live in such a big house because there's always someone to hang out with but you can find a quiet space if you need.
Lights out. It’s another early wake up to ‘Stronger’ and the days are long, so I crash.