Sep 23, 2018, D-minus-09

Slow Boat Down the Ganges Update 20

Well, well, well. After almost three years in the making, and after two postponements this year itself, the launch date is single digits away ... nine more days to go. For me, it is even sooner, since I will be leaving Delhi for Haridwar four days later. Things are surely getting exciting and the butterflies are having a party in my stomach.

TruBluThe goodness bestowed by friends and well-wishers continues to shower on me. My friend Pranay Kumar came over and handed me five bottles of TruBlu, a water purification solution he manufactures. It is supposed to purify biological contaminants, as well as oxidise some metals. From what I understood, I need to put three to five drops into a glass of water. But then he went on to tell me to put twelve to fifteen drops in my twenty litre container. The math does not make sense to me, but from whatever research he has done over the years to finally arrive at this product, he knows what he is talking about. Fifteen drops in a twenty litre container it is.

He also makes a compound that turns plastic biodegradable. Something that needs to be added to the plastic pellets at the time of manufacture. He is providing me with heavy duty garbage bags that are biodegradable. We will be camping in and around beaches during the expedition, and this journey is about raising awareness about pollution on the Ganges. Moreover, A SLOW BOAT DOWN THE GANGES is a zero single use plastic expedition. Wherever we camp, we will try and pick up as much plastic trash as we can and dispose it off sensibly in the area.

These bags biodegrade anaerobically. In about a year it will completely biodegrade and turn into fertiliser. Nice. However, it does not work if thrown in the river. It can be disposed off in a landfill. That works for the collection basket, not the stuff that we will be picking up though. I really look forward to the day when scientists will either find a substitute for plastic, or find something that will degrade plastic. As of today, all plastic that has ever been manufactured, still exists. Except for the ones that have been burnt and then have punched a hole in the ozone layer. Plastics in the form we know and use it today, is absolutely no good.

The famous Indian jugaad (which in other more evolved language is called innovating) is on on full swing. The solar charge controller needs to be installed between the solar panel and the inverter. Where the jugaad comes in, is in making the two cables that will join the controller to the two units. Either I cut up a perfectly good, and expensive, proprietary cable from PowerFilm to get the two naked wires at one end, or figure out a way of connecting the panel to the controller trough jugaad. I do have a cable which comes from the solar panel with a 12V female cigarette lighter adapter at the other end. Now I need to find a 12V male adapter, with two naked wires at the other end. Most of the ones I am finding do not come with a wire, since these are the ones that plug in to the cigarette lighter socket in the car. However, there are these splitters where the male socket goes into the car at one end and at the other end are two or three female sockets to attach two or three different gizmos. All I need to do is cut up this connecting wire so that I have two naked wires that will connect to the charge controller.

I did find a barrel connector that fits into the input port of the inverter. The other end of this will connect to the charge controller. Once done and tested, I will be good to go. The charge controller is expected by Wednesday. If it does not arrive by Wednesday I have another issue, since I leave for Haridwar on Thursday. I guess I will end up being lucky.

I wonder why manufactures do not get together and decide to use standard connectors and ports for their devices. Much like what has happened to mobile phones. If the connectors became standard, one will not need to carry a separate cable for separate units. This not only becomes cumbersome, but also very confusing since it is difficult to figure out which connector belongs to which unit, particularly when all the cables are packed in a single box. Maybe some day soon this simple solution will dawn on manufacturers.

Sam, Tara and me have installed a nice little app on our phones that converts the phone to a walkie talkie. It still works over the internet signal, but makes it much easier to communicate. And all three can be on the channel at the same time, speaking to each other. This will make things much easier, particularly when we have to figure out ways of lining up. Connectivity between the road and the river might not be immediately apparent, and having a walkie talkie option makes communications much easier compared to the phone. Just press the PTT (push-to-talk) button and conversation starts. The protocol remains the same, only one person can transmit at any one time. That takes a bit of getting used to for people who are not used to radio telephony, but can be learnt quite easily and quickly. A few hiccups go a long way in landing a kick in the butt about where one goes wrong.

I will go through a final round of unpacking and packing later in the evening today. Take a relook at the stuff I plan to carry, dump stuff that I thought I would need, add stuff that I had discarded earlier, etc. Not enough and I will have a problem, particularly with stuff that I will certainly need on the trip. Too much and I will have to lug extra stuff around. This is something I do not always have to deal with, but this expedition is one of a kind and I need to be careful about important stuff. Cannot forget to pack them.

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