A typical day in Avani, India, for a D-Lab student

Some of you may be wondering how a typical day in the field looks like for our D-Lab students. One of our students, Mangpo (Electrical Engineering, Class of 2012) narrates how 24h go by in the rural community of Avani in Northern India:

Namaste (hello in Hindi),

My name is Mangpo, one of the India team members. I just want to update all of you about our awesome trip ^^. We've been in AVANI for 5 days already. AVANI is very different from any place I've stayed. People have a very simple life, and they are amazingly happy. Although AVANI is in a rural area, but everyone has a very good quality of life. A day passes in a slower pace than at MIT. All of us work hard on our projects, but at the same time we take time off to learn new culture and know the people here.

I'll tell you a little bit about the daily routine of people here. We wake up around 6.30-7am. Chai time (Indian spice milk tea) is before 7.30am. 7.30-8.30am is community working time. During the community working time, people usually collect logs (for fire), do some harvesting works (they grow their own vegetables), and cook. Our favorite job is helping the cooks making Japati (Indian bread). 8.30am is the hot water time. This is the only time they run the solar water heater, so we usually take a shower and wash clothes around this time. 9.30am is breakfast time.

After breakfast, we start working. There are a few main workshops here. There are a solar workshop where Rachel and I work on solar LED lantern, dying room (they make their own color pigment from natural materials around here, and they use the color for dying yarn and also export some to Delhi) where Paula work on crayon , a textile room, and a machine shop (for building different machines such as solar dehydrater). They also have a pine needle gasifier that generates energy from pine needle. Most of the machines they have are operated by the solar panels. The biggest income of AVANI is from textile. They sells a lot of crafts such as hats and clothes. Those handicrafts are so so pretty.

Lunch is around 1.30, and dinner is at 7pm. We usually have rice and japati with some sorts of vegetables and potato. Food here is definitely healthy. We work until 5pm everyday. After busy working, we're then busy playing with kids. In fact, while writing this e-mail, the kids are attacking me!