- 1 Get to know our surroundings - Exploring an Extreme Place
- 2 HEARING THE FIDDLER CRABS
- 3 The Fiddler Crab Observations
- 4 Exploring Labs At Malya Aditi International School
- 5 Reflections
- 6 Presentations and Seminars
- 7 Building a Community
- 8 Online Research
- 9 Makeathon
- 10 Workshop #1
Get to know our surroundings - Exploring an Extreme Place
We landed Port Blair by 10.30 am, the airport was very similar to the one at Pune, an aerodrome with a single runway under the jurisdiction of the Indian Air Force. I immediate felt at home. I was really excited and wanted to draw connections with the Port Blair International Airport. Walking in to the airport I was taking back it just reminded me of home and I felt that it could better but while waiting for my luggage I bumped in to a tour guide from Mumbai who constantly kept making announcements in Marathi. This was getting on my nerves I really felt that I was going to an unknown space but the events that occurred shunned my imagination. On our way out, I was stopped by an immigration officer who asked my nationality and requested for some sort of identification, I realized that speaking in Hindi just by itself wasn’t a valid identification. I thought to myself why are we separated by or why is there a sense disparity on the bases of our region or the language we speak? I mean I’m still in India technically and yet we are divided, the fact that India is a land of diverse cultures and is a union of different seemed like a facade. I was beginning to feel out of place and yet again I was surprised when I saw the registration plates of the vehicles, they were like the ones I’ve seed everywhere else in India, something that surprised me were the graphics in and around the shops and billboards all looked similar to a regular India town. On reaching ANET, I was a taking back by the serenity of the space that we were in, the fresh air the greenery and the open sky I wanted to just open myself to the elements and be free. A sense of freedom was beginning to linger in my heart. As we walked in I was overwhelmed by the space, the wooden cottages and carpet of dried moist leaves with roots acting like drapes. We kept our things down and freshened up and met again by the dining hall here we were introduced the other ANET officers. We were given a map and were given a list of clues which were in order with the legend of the same map. Our assignment was to explore the property and its surrounding to just to get to know this space. We were asked to work in teams of four. It was an interesting assignment I was no longer thinking. We performed our assignment and were the first ones to finish it. We did miss a few things on the legend only because we didn’t know the right/correct answers to them. I was so energetic in this new space that I went for another walk with my new friends Dori and Emilly. While taking the walk again, my mind began wonder and once again I found myself asking questions, these were somewhat less intense and mostly about trying to see what people did around for a living. I spoke with a few local people and came to a conclusion that fishing, farming and boat building were the few occupations of the people living around the base (ANET). There was so much to take in for the first day and I feel that I had pushed myself physically and mentally to my extreme. I eventually grew tired and developed a throbbing headache. I retired to bed early and I still wasn’t able to cut out the voices or the thoughts from making me insane. I eventually fell asleep only to be woken up to the EPES documentation teams soulful music gig. I was awake and I felt better, as I lay in bed, I began to wonder and reflect upon my eventful day until I fell asleep once again.
Walk in the Mangroves
Our day began early in the morning, with a walk in the mangroves; I had always read about the mangroves in my school text books and seen really low resolution pictures of trees. I grew up believing that a particular tree was a called the mangrove and not that it represented an entire ecosystem. Within five minutes into the walk I realized that what I learnt as a child was a lie yet I grew to believe in it but now when confronted with the truth I felt enlightened. Later sometime we had a conversation where we discussed the truth and facts behind the learnings and teachings and Mark said something really strong and profound. What is it that we learn to what extent can we question these learnings and teachings? What is a stupid question? Should we ask or encourage more of these? As a child I asked a lot of questions and now when I see myself all grown up and mature I rarely ask questions, why is so? Why do we discourage such learnings? As I sat there in a small area untouched by most of the students I began frantically looking for things to notice and make connections with. I scanned with my eyes, heard with my ears and felt things with my hands and feet, I even went to the extent of tasting the leaves, water and barks with my tongue. After a few minutes I just sat down wondered what am I gain by hurrying through the process. It then struck me that if I just stay still and calm things might just come to me and it did work, after a minute or so I saw the fiddler crab come out of its burrow and do what it was doing and like an excited soul that I am, I tried reaching out for my book. The moment I flinched, it went back into its burrow. It was then that I decided that I would not try to document but stay still and take it all in! Later while I was standing in the Mangrove, with my feet in the backwater stream, a hermit crab crawled up to my left big toe and I began to scratch or nibble at it, it freaked me out but I tried to stay calm and enjoy the sensation. After about 4 minutes I just couldn’t handle it I jumped and kicked myself out of the stream. It was an unusual sensation on my feet, I was enjoying the coarse sand and the cool water, the scratching left a tingly feeling on my toe. While everyone was looking around, Soul, Tosh and I went on a mini adventure where we were walking by ourselves in another direction. Not the smartest thing to do especially when you’re staying in a crocodile reserve. A part of us wanted to encounter a croc and another part of us just wanted to explore. We walked for a few minutes scanning and inspecting things as we passed by them, we reached a beach. I was overwhelmed by this majestic sight. For a moment there I felt delusional it reminded me of this beach paradise of Leonardo DiCaprio’s movie Beach. Except that the sharks were here replaced by Crocs and there were no marijuana farmers or marijuana around us for that matter of fact. We were alert and cautious and kept looking out for each other. We even clicked some photographs. I personally was set out to clean the beach. I collected a broken jerry can, an alcohol glass bottle and a Coco-Cola pet bottle. I was really proud of myself for doing so. We hurried back soon and I was really looking around for more treasure.
We regrouped only to be lead back at the same spot. Tosh and I weren’t at all disappointed as we felt like explorers who’d already completed an expedition and were back for another one. We goofed around and we even went into the water. I love the beach, the sea and the open sky. Our group met again in the evening after dinner we were to go for our Mangrove walk again but in the night, just to see the difference in the wildlife and observe other changes. We all assembled behind the base property. Each one of us had our own flash lights. I was surprised to see one, yes only one yellow light bulb the rest of us had our white led torches/ headlamps.
But it didn't end here, we had to then cross a fairly deep patch of water and I being at the end of the group only made things worse for me. The pool was muddy and I couldn't see a thing. I knew for a fact that there were snails, slugs and crabs in it. I had to brave myself to take the first few steps into it. It didn’t get better, I stepped on various things and by midway I just didn't know what to do, It was the same sensation which I experienced a few hours ago but only heightened like about 5 times. I just hopped and skipped my way out of it. I was really proud of myself for doing so. We walked from one pool to another. We looked around for the nocturnal life, but I guess our noisy group scared the away. Despite all the noise and flashing flashlights we managed to see a two dog-faced snakes and fair number of different species of crabs. We even spotted a pit viper. We reached the raft stage, I was one of the few people who actually got into the water and made our way to it. It was cold, but I really wanted to overcome my fear, at first it was all going well I counted the number of steps in my head and kept breathing calmly. We made to the raft. After a few minutes we put of our torches for a while just to gaze at the stars for a few minutes. I was a nostalgic feeling; I was instantaneously telerported back to school. The noise the cold everyone just disappeared for a few minutes. I remembering seeing a sky so bright from the roof of my dorm, for which I had to sneak out to after eleven O’clock. I felt like I was back in Nainital, and I took a deep breath and shut my eyes in an attempt to preserve this sight in my forgetful memory. I was dreading the fact that we had to cross the pool again and wasn't up for it. I was clearly not over the fear of wadding in ankle / knee deep unclear water. But to my surprise we took an alternate route. We walked into the property from somewhere close to the tree-house.
Walk in the Inter Tidal Zone
This began with a hilarious start; we (Vivek, Varun and I) were woken up our faculty Padmani aka Padi. We were supposed to have met with the group at 5 am and there comes Padi to wake us up at 5.15. We decided to run and make up for the lost time, as we ran we cracked a few jokes and one we were fairly away from Padi we began to walk, we had an intense conversation on how old we are and once we cross a certain age group we don’t seem to need to run or for that matter of fact running doesn’t suit us. We finally reached the beach and we weren’t that far behind the rest of the group. As we strolled in as the latecomers, we figured that we didn’t miss anything at all except for the tea and snacks back at ANET. As we walked on the beach we saw Octopus eggs and some fish nurseries. We even saw different species of slugs, snails and crabs. We learnt about survival techniques and other adaptations of the species in the intertidal zone. We leant about temperature changes, water salinity levels and dissolved oxygen. We also saw two octopuses one spotted by Tosh and the other one by someone else. We stumbled upon a bunch of sec cucumbers or as Chandni would call them “slee cucum” lol!
This was a fun and eventful walk, we reached the open spot where we were supposed to eat breakfast. Since we were early, we sat down to discussed and laughed at the other group’s bad luck and series of misfortunes. We still had to wait for our food to arrive and while everyone was relaxing, I ran into the sea like a child. The sight of the clear shallow waters reflecting the sky, the cliffs and forest behind me and other smaller islands in front of me was like a scene from someplace else, I felt like I was in Paradise. After basking in the sun and fooling around the water, I returned to the shore where everyone else was sitting and talking. As I walked, my mind was filled with thoughts of me staying back forever and leading a nomadic life. I hadn’t brought my watch, camera or phone. I thought that I could get used to this kind of lifestyle and I didn’t regret it all. I grew up studying in the hills and I’ve spent 6 years of my life in the hills. I’m a water baby and love the beach, I love water sports as well and I’m grateful to my parents for having me tried all these things. Shannon discovered a small clove or a lagoon with the back waters I sat there for a while waiting for our food to still arrive. I was enjoying the early morning sunrays. As I sat there meditating and taking it all in I felt really relaxed and calm but this was something else that I experienced, an out of body. I thought I saw myself sitting there as I walked around the water. Creped out by my own vivid imagination and the fear of some croc randomly snapping me in between its jaws I quickly got up and regrouped with the rest, who were already half way through their meal. I took my share of the remaining food and every last bit of the sambaar. I wanted to eat more of the delicious food as I returned to the box, I was taken back that it was already over. We still had eggs, bread and the jam but I was in no mood to it. Turns out Padi didn’t get any of the sambaar. I was full but I just didn’t feel full, whatever it was I just shut my mind and washed my plate by the shore, after that I went in to wash myself. After breakfast we were given an exercise to build sand sculptures. I was approached by Vivek who wanted to dig a 6 foot ditch and stand in it, I agreed instantaneously. As we dug the sand we spoke about our possibilities of finding something, it would be anything.
Walk in the Forest
This was a relatively shorter walk as compared to the previous two walks. We were guided by Krishna and John, John was showing us around and telling us the medicinal values of each plant and the use the trees. Other than fife wood, these trees were used for building hoses, ships and boats. One particular tree extract was used for making local alcohol too. I was surprised to see the diverse variety of ecosystems in these islands. Within 1000 meters of where we were actually staying, I had seen three of these unique ecosystems, each interconnected and dependent on the other, but yet so diverse. As we kept walking around in the forest I kept thinking to myself of these factors and adaptations and how nature truly is at the center of life and how beautiful it is. But what was actually going on in my mind was that while treading on these pack track in the forest I was missing my school days. It was a nostalgic feeling and I was being teleported back to the days when I would sneak out of school to go buy alcohol or food for m seniors and sometimes for ourselves. This huge group that we were in kept reminding me of my little adventures. It felt as though adrenaline was being pumped into my system. I felt like running fast and getting somewhere, the fear of getting caught again felt real. I was reliving an experience from the past. Everything here kept reminding me of school and the pack track we would take. Yeah it was more humid and there weren’t many bamboo’s around but for instance like crossing the dried up waterfall almost resonated with y memories. I was falling in love with this place and my mind as making me believe this by relating everything I saw with memories from the past.
Open Studios / Working on the oven with MudJack
I always wanted to work with Jackson but with our signup system, I was never able to do so. Even before reaching the Andaman’s, I had made up my mind to work with him. I was looking forward to working with him and was mentally prepared to get really dirty. Finally the day came and I was full of energy. Jackson first scouted for the perfect spot as to where exactly have the oven. We discussed falling coconuts, direction of the wind and ease of using the oven. After finding the perfect location, he began working with the other members at ANET, where they cleared the ground. I joined in latter, after clearing the spot, we began flattening it. We initially used a block of wood attached to crowbar, but due to the pounding the wooden block gave way and broke. We didn’t have a lot of tools and had to make do with concrete blocks. We were lifting these blocks and hitting the ground with them. It was very effective, our own little DIY experience. Apart from this there other instances of our DIY, make shift or Jugaad that we repeatedly used Once we were done flattening it we place concrete blocks around in a circle and started to build the base of the oven. It was hollow and we were building at the perimeter. Each brick was precisely measured and placed one on top of another. While working on the base, there was a small error which was caused due to something I overlooked, Jackson was a sport about it and called it the “Fakir Bump”. We overcame this error by using small fat pieces of stone to level the bricks. Mud, concrete and cement are really conductors of heat; for our oven we need to insulate it and we decided to do this by filling it with glass bottles and other insulating materials before actually covering it. We finished with making the base and the cooking base as well, we now had to create a dome or furnace were the actual cooking and the heat would remain. I was no longer a part of this, I had something else on my agenda to follow and I was excused from this process.
Then came the next big thing, getting dirt on oneself, and getting really dirty. I fell this was required as it would get one really used to with getting their hands dirty as well as to start working hands on. We had to mix sand and cement in the proportion on 4 is to 7. I was just involved in the getting dirty part of it and was documenting this process. This was done by adding sand and cement in the required proportions and mixing it with water to the right consistency. We then mixed it our feet and then rolling in over and over again, followed by mixing the mixture again with our feet. Once we were done with this, we began to clump them in to balls, slightly bigger than our hands. Since we were mixing the mixture relatively further away from the base structure, we formed a chain and passed on these mud balls to one another. Jackson stood at the other end, where he would paste them on to the dome using water. He then molded theses mud balls into a smooth flat surface.
HEARING THE FIDDLER CRABS
Varun and I’ve been friends for quite sometime now and somehow we never got time to work with one another. In this trip we shared the room and we would talk to one another. We were bonding as well but it seemed very professional. We would talk about our work, I really needed someone to explain to me what were we doing here in the Andaman’s. I was panicking the other day as to what was going on. We had our own assignments to do but I wasn’t sure how the outcome was going to help me graduate. It was helpful to have Varun to talk to, someone who was in the same exact spot a few months ago. Turns out that he too didn’t know what was going on. I was scared at first but then I realized that I wasn’t the only one who was in this condition. The other day Chandnin and Shlokha came up to me frantic as hell asking what was to be done and what going on. I had even spoken tour facilitators they too were like go explore, they asked me to do what I was good at doing and to relax to take it all in.
The Fiddler Crab Project
Earlier from my walks at the mangrove I was fascinated by the fiddler crab not entirely by the looks/ colour of it but I drew a connection between their eating habits with the sand bubbler crab and wanted to know more about them. The mechanism of voluntary movement in creatures is fascinating: one can’t really pin point at why and how muscles simply understand left, right, up, down, and yet we see ourselves and all creatures around us dancing to one or the other tune. It was the dis-proportionate claw that drew my attention towards finding out more about this species. Also in some way Jackson fueled my passion to know more about them by taunting me to catch saying that, they were god damn fast! This experiment tried to tap into the movements of such creatures- in this case the fiddler crabs that 'fiddle' with their claws and dance like ballerinas dancing to the nutcracker of Tchaikovsky. What rhythms can one try to understand from such a crab dance? This was the bases of what lead me to do help Varun build a waterproof microphone. I used a plastic and a plastic tube/pipe and some water proofing sealant. I covered the microphone with a piece if the plastic bag and then stretched it all around it, this created a fine membrane around it. I then slipped the plastic tube/pipe around the circumference of the microphone. By doing so the either ends were relatively exposed. I then applied the sealant on the wiring thus waterproofing the microphone.
The Fiddler Crab Observations
Right vs Left -When the disproportionate (big) claw breaks off, the feeder (small) claw begins to grow while the detached claw regenerates. The feeder claw is now the disproportionate one and the the new claw would be the feeder claw.
Uses of the claw -Mating, Territorial marking and display of superiority-Fighting.
Claw -Only the male crabs have the disproportionate claw while the female crabs only have feeder claws.
Eyes - Their eyes flatten and fit into the shell, they flatten toward each side as to not damage their eye stalks.
Other observations -
They are deposit eaters. they feed on detritus found in the sand/soil.
They aren't nocturnal, you can't find them at night.
They live in large groups in the middle inter tidal zone within the mangrove ecosystem.
Exploring Labs At Malya Aditi International School
We went around visiting different Labs in Aditi. We first visited the chemistry lab and then the biology lab. I personally connected to these labs as in my school days I would be a part of our annual science fair and I've worked mostly in the chemistry lab. What I love about the chemistry is that you can see the progress in the experiment or you can test it by some means. I live looking at specimens in the vinegar and H2SO4 (I guess I wasn't always paying attention as a student in my school days). Yashas kept the physics lab for the last (I guess he really likes it). I personally hated the Physics lab, I always found it boring and too complicated and filled with really old equipment (I love old things but this is not my type). There was nothing there that fascinate me. What really got my attention was a dark-room on top of the physics lab. I was really fascinate by the their dark room I guess its because I've never seen one before in any of the schools that I've attended. It was difficult getting in as it was too dark. The dark room was being used to prepare some photographic prints.
We later went around their campus to see the other labs/Rooms.We began with the cooking lab. I've been here a couple of time and I've also worked with Yashas here before (in my earlier project I've brewed vine and prepared agar solutions). We then went to the music-drama lab, There were some classical instruments on the well carpeted floor. Apart from this there were a few synthesizers and some guitars. We then saw the art studio,They had two rooms here and was by far the largest Art room I've seen in my entire life. Also they had a separate art room for the Kinder-garden kids.
Setting up our own LAB along side the Art/Sci LAB
We came back to our lab The ArtScience LAb and Yashas briefed us on what all a lab should have and he did this by giving an example of his lab.
The characteristics of a good lab:
Based on these characteristics we were supposed go to class and set up a Lab. We had to try and incorporate all of theses characteristics in our lab. We began setting up our lab after a small break and a d mild disscussion on what should go where.
The first step was to get rid of all the unwanted things out of the Lab.
We then began with arranging the furniture in our class to make more space for our Lab.
We needed an exhibition space and we did this by placing a table against one wall on the side of the lab.
We added one more characteristics to our Lag the "chilling zone" a SOFA for relaxation.
Our kitchen was another table were we kept common edible item to be consumed by the members for the members.
Andaman in a Glimpse
Presentations and Seminars
Building a Community
Walking Around the City
Observation and Reflections.
- Error creating thumbnail: File missing
Forum Software research
Seven Segment STUDY
Vibro Bug-Bots STUDY
Building an Arduino on a bread board
Components used :-
22 AWG wire
7805 Voltage regulator
2 220 Ohm resistors
1 10k Ohm resistor
2 10 uF capacitors
16 MHz clock crystal
2 22 pF capacitors
small momentary normally open ("off") button, i.e. Omron type B3F
Making the connections
Boot-logging the board
We began with a small group session where we were trying to figure out how and what we would be doing for and during the workshop. We all meet after lunch outside the ArtSci lab.
Making the Kit for the workshop.
It was fun working together however everyone was individually working on their part but collectively we were all working towards making our first workshop a successful one.
Workshop #1 Observation and Reflections.
Photo-documentation to this workshop can be found here
When the kids walked in I was really worried I was constantly wondering if my team would be able to handle the audience well. But before I knew it very one was talking to one another and the children seemed comfortable talking to the team. I was surprised to see this transformation, as I was expecting my team to be shy or impatient. I noticed no competitive nature within the audience. Everyone was getting inspired by one another there was no competition while they were working in a shared space. They seemed in a hurry to learn but I think it was only because they wanted to make their bots in order to play with them. It began well; everyone was energetic and excited at the beginning. I could feel this energy, but after the first bot was made I felt a dip in enthusiasm on the teams side. The audience seemed tired but yet passionate. I too didn’t have much to do too as I was documenting the process it seemed repetitive and I had already have photographs of the children working. I was looking for something more to happen. I wanted the audience to play. While I patiently waited I began to help around by providing material and offering lemonade and chips and dip which I had prepared for the workshop. I was also offering the sandwiched which Farhat had taken the pain to prepare. By the end of the workshop we all were exhausted but the kids seemed full of energy it was 3 O’clock and they were showing any signs of boredom or tiredness. They had forgotten to eat their lunch and weren’t willing to leave the space. We had to literally push them out.