Drivers: the unsung heroes

First, I want to echo the thanks that others have shared to Bhanu, Vamsi, Siva, Siva Rama Raju, “Master” Ganga Raju, and Isaac. All of them (and the others working behind the scenes) made a Herculean effort to make us feel welcome, cared for and cherished. Interacting with them all has been the highlight of our time in Bhimavaram. On a side note, I’m sorry that Vamsi and I never got much time to “talk shop” as he is in charge of IT for the Byrraju office in Bhimavaram.

I’d like to give a special shout out to our largely silent but ever-ready heroes: the drivers, Rama Chandra Raju and Krishna. I’m still floored at how traffic actually functions here; every few seconds is a complex series of micro-negotiations with other drivers, pedestrians, and livestock. The entire process is incredibly organic. By the second day, I stopped seeing my life flashing before my eyes every five seconds, but am still amazed how it all seems to just work. Our drivers did an exceptional job of getting us where we are going on time and keeping us safely in one piece. I did manage a few conversations with each of them: Rama Chandra Raju says the Toyota is comfortable for passengers but doesn’t have enough clearance; Krishna showed me a movie with his favorite Indian action hero. For the most part, however, they spent a lot of time quietly waiting for us to do our thing in the villages and then getting us back to the guest house. Thank you both, gentlemen.

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A rare shot of Krishna out of the driver’s seat
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Rama Chandra Raju

As for the projects on Thursday and Friday, I was mightily impressed with the Byrraju water purification facility. Seeing the source water they were working with first hand, followed by the end product, was a sight to behold. Their water comes in 12 liter “tins” so it’s not your carry and go variety, but it is insanely affordable and more pure than the bottled water commercially available. They are doing amazing work in this area.

Adam, Simon and I are consulting on the KVK Ashwini Virtual Learning Centers, and I must say it has been challenging not to dive into the familiar—the supporting technology—and focus on service delivery and market need, especially when the network topology maps came up on the screen! Fortunately, the field work helped to clear that impulse away. I’d like to give a shout out to Adam and Simon for covering for me while I was out of the picture on Thursday afternoon. We made some interesting discoveries which we’re anxious to share with Byrraju next Friday.

In closing, I’d like to thank the women of GVIT who helped us in the field on Friday by providing cultural context and interpretation. Pushba and Sravani, we can’t thank you enough!

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One thought on “Drivers: the unsung heroes

  1. Regarding the flow of traffic in India, well described, Mike. There is a favorite quote one mine from The Life of Pi in which the author describes the “functioning chaos” of India. You’ve brought the functioning chaos of India to life here, and embraced it.

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