With my visa well on the way (fingers crossed) and my intense six week language course coming to a close this week it was high time to get started on some real work!
#1 Monday 22nd I ventured to the AEPC (Alternative Energy Promotion Centre) offices to finally, formally meet my new team and get started. It was great to meet everyone and start to get an understanding of my new role. At least they were expecting me, there is a lot of work going on and they are hopeful I will be able to contribute skills they do not currently have in their team – so it all bodes very well indeed! (Check out those solar panels!);
#2 The AEPC offices are situated south of the main ring road resulting in some nice surroundings and currently a healthy 1 hour walking commute to and from the office though plans are afoot to finalise my longer term living arrangements and reduce that a little;
#3 The very next day I was already invited to join a workshop on “Sustainable Energy Access Planning (Nepal)” along with senior government officials and academics. The workshop was part of an overall “Energy for All” scheme intending to use a combination of renewable energies and extending the national grid (which will itself be mainly supplied by hydroelectric plants) to grant access to energy for even the poorest households in Nepal. It’s early days still for the project but extremely interesting to start see what is being discussed in the field and at what level.
The workshop was run in Nagarkot, a village high up in the hills to the east of the Kathmandu Valley. The view from the hotel was already pretty splendid to my mind but I am told that on a clear day, beyond the distant clouds which could be viewed from the terrace, are stunning views of the Himalaya and even Mount Everest (viewed from along the ridge a little). I shall have to come back in the right season…;
To be honest I’m being broken in gently though due to the fact that Thursday 24th saw the kick off of Dashain; “Dashain is the longest and the most auspicious festival in the Nepalese annual calendar, celebrated by Nepalese of all caste and creed throughout the country” NepalHomePage So even though my first full day with AEPC was Friday 25th it’s not going to be too intense for a while – next week’s working week is 2 days long…
#4 To get up to speed however I have a sizeable amount of reading to get through. First, an invaluable tome about how to run a Biogas programme with the author’s own personal experience from Nepal;
#4 I found out I am going to be working on some large scale Waste to Energy projects which are just in the early stages at the moment but sound really exciting – watch this space. Before that my predecessor, a previous VSO volunteer, spent 10 months working with the team on defining construction and feasibility study guidelines for the large Biogas plants so I guess I’d better get up to speed on this lot too;
#5 In addition to starting work this week, I passed my first Nepali language test and found an apartment to move into from November – result! Over the weekend I therefore felt it was time for a few forms of R&R which included; Playing tennis for the first time in not-far-off-forever next door to this rather grand old swimming pool, flying kites from the roof (a time honour tradition during the Dashain festival) plus watching Japanese animation at the fabulous Sattya Media Arts Collective, drinking a sneaky Gin Fizz listening to live Nepali music and last but not least enjoying an amazing massage at the Seeing Hands clinic which “provides training and employment opportunities in massage therapy for young blind people in Nepal.” Soooo relaxing, now I’m ready for the week ahead.