Goodbye Parth :(

Hi everyone it’s Emily! Today is Parth’s last day in India, and we are sad to see him go :( we have all had a great time on this trip and next week won’t be the same without him.

On a lighter note, today we finished our last day of stoves testing!! :) We spent today and yesterday in the field collecting data on the final stoves and everyone is excited to be done with the heat. We will give this data to the stoves team to help them plan their messaging and education for the project. Again, HUGE shout out to Vipul and Kiran for all their help these past 2 weeks (and for keeping our spirits up with selfies and ice cream)

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On Thursday morning, we woke up early to go with Divyaben to collect water and test out the water transport device on the path she takes. Divyaben and her neighbors gave us some great feedback that we can use to improve upon the prototype next semester. As with any new technology, they were apprehensive about the device at first, so we have been discussing ways to modify the design to be more culturally relevant.

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As things start to wind down, we have been working on our final presentation for Setco and making sure we have good documentation about this trip to give to both Setco and the team. I can’t believe how quickly this trip is going by!!

Finally, after a productive week, we are getting ready for our trip to Mumbai this weekend. Sneha is going to be able to meet up with some friends who will hopefully give us the inside info on all the fun things to do there!

That’s all for now, but until next time, please enjoy this photo of (snap filter) Baby Sneha:

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Stoves and Sizzlers!

Hi all! This is Parth writing about 5/14 and 5/15. We began the week with a lot of work on our plate and ambitious goals for stoves testing.

Despite the heat on Tuesday morning we went to the village of Madhvas and tested 4 BLIP stoves for efficiency. We followed the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves’s procedure to measure the efficiency of our stove. Each stove is prepared by cleaning the extra ash away, weighing the fuel we plan to use, and weighing a pot of water set on the stove. When the fire for the stove is started, we measure the temperature until the pot of water is boiling. At that point, the water is weighed and fire is quenched using ash. After sifting the char from the ash, we weigh the leftover fuel. Thus, we are able to measure the amount of fuel used to heat a certain amount of water.


We would like to thank Vipul and Kiran for their patience and hard work during testing these stoves. Our testing could not have been completed without their help!

On Wednesday, we continued stoves testing but also went to Rathva Faliya in Navaria. Rathva Faliya appeared more spread out than the other communities we visited, so we wanted to gather information about their water usage to see if our device would interest them.

After two long days of work in the field, we went out to dinner with Deesha’s Uncle to a restaurant called San Sizzlers, which was only a short walk from the guesthouse. We tried some great grilled paneer and asian inspired noodles, and we all left with full stomachs!

Well that’s it for today! Come back soon for our next blog post!

Ahmedabad Trip + Allocation Plan!!

Hey all!! This is Sneha, and this is going to be a pretty long blog post about our weekend trip to Ahmedabad and all the progress we’ve made on our work! ʕ·ᴥ· ʔ

On Saturday we continued testing the traditional chulhas and later we had a discussion with Urja about our trip goals and future work for BLIP. We decided to start working on an “Allocation Plan” for our new water transport device about how to disperse the devices to new partners. A new idea we had was partnering with SHG groups to test our water devices and interview them about their feedback. Later we had a long conversation with Vipulbhai and Kiranbhai about how SHGs work, demographics in the communities, and in general learned more about Madhvas!      。^‿^。

After we finished up at the office, we headed out to Ahmedabad. It was a 2 hour drive, but when we arrived we treated ourselves to a lot of good street food (*^◇^)_旦 ! We ate pav bhajis, pani puris, ice golas, and bhel puri. But, the highlight of the night was definitely the butter dosa. It was a large dosa coated fully in butter with a huge slab of raw butter tossed into the middle. As one of Deesha’s relatives described the dosa, “it was absolutely sinful!” We tried to get Parth to finish the rest of the dosa, but he refused (T⌓T).

On Sunday we woke up super early to head out for a heritage walk in the old city of Ahmedabad. We learned a lot about the Muslim, Hindu, and Jain history of the city. We started the tour at the Jama Masjid, which used to be the largest mosque on the Indian subcontinent! We later visited a Haveli, which were homes for the super wealthy in the olden days, and we learned about the water collection systems. Later we walked through various pols, which are like small neighborhoods, and got to immerse ourselves further in the old city! (✿☯‿☯✿)

We ended the afternoon visiting the Adalaj Pav Stepwell, which was about a 45 minute drive from the city. The sun was blazing down on us, so we didn’t spend that much time there, but we took some quality pictures! And finally, we ended our Ahmedabad trip to a visit to the mall so that we could be in the air conditioning. We all got food and drinks from The Chocolate Room, and Parth even ate cake!!    ( ゚o゚)

On Monday morning we headed out to Madhvas to continue stoves testing. Today was the first day we tested the BLIP stoves, and it was super cool to see! We ended up testing three of them, and afterwards we met the manufacturer to discuss the second prototype of the device. The water transport device was made a little smaller, perfect to fit the regular sized pots the women usually carry. Instead of the khatlo material that we originally used, it was replaced by a plastic-like material that did not absorb the water. We walked around the terrain with it, and even though we went over a lot of bumps, most of the time the water didn’t spill ヽ(ヅ)ノ!! We later headed back to the office for Monday puri day in the cafeteria, and spent the rest of the day working on the Allocation Plan. After work, we were all super excited to eat maggi for the first time during the trip, and Parth couldn’t stop laughing from his happiness about it (/・0・) !

Day 3: Stoves, Food, and Sleep

Hi! This is Deesha again! The past three days in Baroda have been lovely. On Wednesday, we got the chance to visit the Anganwadi in Kalol with Rajeshbhai. The Anganwadi, or community center, serves many purposes, including pre-school, maternal health and child development, and skills-training. It was super cool seeing the scope of the Setco Foundation and meeting some of the kids! After meeting our water transport device manufacturer, Jaswabhai, we headed back to the office and met up with the CSED team from UMich for lunch. Though they were exhausted from their journey, we all made the trip to the Palace where we strolled through Maharaja Fateh Singh Museum. We came home, took much-needed naps, and had dinner at Little Italy, which was just a five minute walk from the guest house.


The next day, we ran the Water Boiling Test and collected emissions data on a traditional stove in Madhvas. Then we came back to the office for lunch. Nikita brought bags of chaas, or buttermilk — a common beverage in Gujarat — which we heartily enjoyed. We got home and snacked on some banana chips. Emily, Savannah, and Sneha took naps (the title is probably making more sense now), while Parth and I went to get a thermometer for testing. We had a time hailing a rickshaw from a busy street; picture me waving my arms wildly at oncoming traffic. When we finally arrived at our destination, Parth handed the driver 200 rupees. The driver gave it back and told us it was only 50. Luckily we didn’t get scammed, but our haggling skills in general need some work. Sneha’s making some progress. After that we all headed to the InOrbit Mall for dinner with the CSED team, Nikita, and Kajal. We went to Mirch Masala, a Bollywood-themed restaurant, and ordered Biryani. I was feeling adventurous so I ordered something called jeera paani, which turned out to be inverted paani puri — spiced water on the outside and crunchy bread sprinkled on top. We used up Parth’s data to watch Game of Thrones. Unfortunately, we started dozing off during a particularly long buffer so DO NOT tell us what happened.


Today we tested two more traditional stoves. After that, Vipulbhai took us to get ice cream at Hotel Delight. For lunch, we were treated to dokla, a Gujarati specialty, and mango rus. We’re going out to dinner with Urja today and we have trip to Ahmedabad planned for this weekend, so stay tuned for a super exciting blog post on Monday!

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Us, Kiranbhai, and Janakben after stoves testing!


Day 2: Fun in Alkapuri

Hi everyone! Savannah here for our second blog post of the May trip! We are really enjoying our time here in Gujarat so far. On Monday night after our first day in the office, Salmaben and Rajeshbhai treated us to a delicious dinner at a restaurant called Havmor in Baroda. We got the chance to try some really good food, like this spicy, raw mango mocktail called “katchi keri”. We all loved this one, but Sneha enjoyed it the most! We also got to try something called karari rumali, which was a big dome of bread. We had a really good time with Salmaben and Rajeshbhai and were really thankful to get to go out to dinner with them!

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Sneha and Salmaben at dinner

The next day, we went to Barola with Rajeshbhai and got to meet some of our community partners, Kusumben and Divyaben. We really enjoyed spending a bit of time with them and telling them about the progress we’ve made on our water transportation device. When we got back to the office, we had a good discussion with Salmaben and Rajeshbhai about our overall plans for the trip and what we hope to accomplish in terms of stoves and water transportation testing.

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The team in Barola 

After going home for the day, we had some time to explore Alkapuri. We decided to hail a few rickshaws to get to Inorbit Mall (although we unfortunately got a bit scammed and paid double the price we should’ve paid for the rickshaws). At the mall, we tried some McDonald’s and got some fun items off the menu, like their “spicy, cheesy rice bowl” and “masala wedges”. We also had a lot of fun looking for some clothes for Parth (he needs new belts)! After that, we headed home and enjoyed the pizza that Salmaben ordered for us before turning in for the night.

Day 1

Hi everyone! This is Deesha. Today is our first day in the office. We left for India on Friday, and after getting off to a rocky start (my suitcase was two kilos overweight oops), but it was smooth sailing from then on. We watched some good movies on the plane and had a peaceful layover in Doha, Qatar. We reached Baroda on a Sunday, so we had all day to recover from jetlag. We played some card games (while Emily kept sleeping until 1 p.m.) to pass the time after eating some yummy breakfast and chai. Despite Parth’s best efforts, the girls’ 30 minute post-lunch power naps quickly turned into a 3 hour long deep sleep. For dinner, Salmaben recommended we go to a restaurant called Thyme & Whisk. They had a really vibrant menu that offered “Broccoli and Almond Cappuccino” and “Hungarian Cheese Fries.” We weren’t feeling that adventurous, so we ordered hakka noodles and paneer tikka, and the food was really good! Fun fact: don’t offer Parth chai–he hates it!

When we got in to the office today, we introduced ourselves and our goals to the Setco team, and they showed us a video that summarized the foundation’s mission (which we were featured in!). Then, we went to Barola to meet our Water Transport partner, Ramilaben, to introduce ourselves and briefly discuss our plans to show them our prototype. We headed back to the office, got some Gujarati food for lunch, and planned out our itinerary for the rest of the trip. We also plan on going to a cafe later to watch Game of Thrones because we don’t have wifi in our apartment!

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View of sunset from our apartment


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Us getting ready to go to the office this morning

Spring Break 2019 Day 4

Hey everyone, its Hannah! Yesterday was a very full day, and we got a lot done. We started early in the morning visiting Ranipura to look at some more stoves. We visited three women who had built stoves with Nanduben, who we had visited the day before. The first woman that we visited built her new stove into her old chulha, making a three burner stove, as you can see below.  I don’t think I have ever seen that before, and I thought it was a really smart solution to keep using the old stove.


The second woman built her stove inside, but even though she liked the new stove better than her old one, she found that the edge was starting to crack and sink from the weight of the pots that she was using. A bunch of the community members had some really good ideas on how to make the stove stronger, such as mixing brick powder into the mati (the clay and straw mixture used to make the stoves) and adding extra supports. We also got to meet a stove builder, Ranjanben.

Afterwards, we drove back to Barola to visit Ramilaben and Kusumben. It was really cool to meet them after working on this project for two years and having only known them from pictures and from reading reports of interviews. We made plans to meet with Kusumben tomorrow and with Ramilaben to walk with them to collect water. Afterwards, we went back to the Setco office, had a really good lunch with some of the foundation employees, and finished up some work before we headed back to Baroda.

Back at the apartment, we got the best news so far, in my opinion, of the whole trip. Our cart had finally been constructed! The prototype built here looked even better than the one that we made back home. It was very clear, for example, that even though we tried our best, we had never weaved khatlo (a type of super strong fabric) before. If you want a cool game of spot the difference, check out the two pictures below.

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With the beautiful sunny weather, we decided to take an Uber and go visit the local zoo. The tigers were beautiful, and the leopard and lion cages were so close that you could pet them if you tried. Don’t worry, mom, I didn’t try and pet a lion. As we were walking back from the exhibits through the gardens, we also witnessed a personal wishlist item of Jesse’s as a wild monkey ran across the path that we were walking and climbed over the fence.


That evening, we went to the local mall InOrbit for dinner. Kajal and Nikita, two Setco employees, showed us around and got a sampling of tons of food court options–  samosa chaat, vegetable momos, lassis, and chaas were just a few of the things we tried. With full bellies, we took a look at some of the stores, and then headed back to the apartment to play cards and a little bit of frisbee on the terrace.

Spring Break 2019 Day 3

Hi guys, this is Jesse! Day 3 shaped up to be a very exciting eventful day!

We began by meeting with the plumber who is in the process of constructing our water transportation device. Unfortunately, neither four-way joints or three-way corner joints are manufactured in the area around Baroda. Because of this, the plumber turned T-joints into four-way joints by drilling through them and used them as a substitute. While this will work great for testing purposes, it is important that we revise our design to only use available materials. On that same note, our rubber wheel is not accessible, so a hard plastic wheel will now be used.


Our next plan was to meet with our water partners, Kusumben and Ramelaben. Sadly, we arrived to find a funeral occurring, so we decided to come back tomorrow. We moved on to visit two stove partners instead: Shakuntalaben and Nanduben. It was great to see how well stove project has taken root, as we are now approaching 1,000 stoves constructed! We interviewed the stove partners to validate the stove design. We found that the stoves reduced the smoke people inhaled significantly, decreased the amount of fuel needed, and decreased the amount of time spent cooking! Additionally, Nanduben has built 30 stoves and trained others to build stoves as well. The stove project has allowed her, and other women, to bring in income for their family (each stove constructed earns the women 100 rupees).


At our final stove visit, we were visited by Charlie and Ann along with three students from GSFC. The students will be interning with SETCO over the summer and were interested in a potential partnership with BLUElab. We met with the students and discussed the possibility of working together. Both groups thought it would be a good idea for the students to begin by working with us to learn about the process of socially engaged design, and we agreed that they should start their own project after gaining experience. After meeting the students, we took a tour of the SETCO factory and learned about how their clutches are manufactured.


After a long day of work, Urja treated us and SETCO employees to dinner at Mirchi Masala. It was a great experience to get to know some of the people we are working with, not to mention that the food was phenomenal!


Finally, we headed back to our apartment and hung out as a team. We went up to our building’s terrace and saw an awesome view of the city. The night ended with some Bananagrams and Uno before the effects of jetlag set in and we all went to sleep.

Spring Break 2019 Day 2

Hi. This is Deesha. Today is Day 2! Yesterday was Shivratri, a Hindu holiday celebrating the god of destruction, Shiva (who, according to my dad, is the cool god), so when we got to the office in the morning it was mostly empty. After we ate a Gujarati lunch of roti, dal, and vegetables, people began to trickle in. We were introduced to everyone at the office and then we walked them through our plan for this week. After that, Urja & friends presented to us and the CSED team, Ann and Charlie, about what the Setco Foundation is all about. I thought the initiatives they have in place for healthcare are really cool. It’s not something we knew about before. The team also presented our plan for the week to the Setco Foundation. We were pretty tired when we got back to our apartment and took naps. Then, we got dinner with my aunt Krimali who lives in Baroda. We went to a restaurant called Pepperazzi that was American diner-themed and played covers of songs from 2013 that all happened to be by the same person. The menu was 10 pages long and had everything from pizza to Thai food. After dinner we were so tired, we crashed as soon as we got back. But now we are finally well-rested and have a really exciting day planned! Today we are going to check the progress on the water transport device and doing stoves interviews. Yay! 


Us at Pepperazzi (the kid next to Jesse is my cousin)


Baroda at night

Spring Break 2019 Day 1

Hey, everyone, it’s Gautham here! The BLUElab India Project team is very excited to be back in Gujarat for an exciting week of work with the Setco Foundation! Deesha, Hannah, Jesse and I had a very exciting 36 hours of travel to India. Starting in Ann Arbor the team took a very packed Amtrak train to Chicago Union station where we were met by Hannah’s mom. She took us out for a really delicious lunch at Xoco, a Mexican restaurant by chef Rick Bayless in the city. We enjoyed some sandwiches and chips and guacamole before heading to O’Hare International Airport.

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After we were checked in we wandered around the International terminal in search of a neck pillow for Jesse but ended up getting lost in the duty-free stores. Once we arrived in Dubai we spent more time exploring the terminal and its stores. Hannah got some really delicious camel milk chocolate that she shared with the team!


Jesse had an interesting experience on the plane ride from Dubai to India. He was sitting next to two men from Palestine who were fascinated by his ability to speak some Arabic as well as the pictures on his camera roll. When we arrived in Ahmedabad were greeted by Deesha’s family who brought us many snacks and sim cards. The final leg of our journey was a car ride to Vadodara, and by then we were really tired so all of us fell asleep pretty fast.


We finally reached the guest house early in the morning and immediately fell asleep. But we woke up after 3 hours to get ready to head to the Setco Foundation office! We are really excited as a team for this trip and to see what we can achieve with the foundation and our partner communities. Stay tuned for more blogs this week!