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“A satisfying stay”

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conservation Walther is sold on the idea of ’ooranis’
conservation Walther is sold on the idea of ’ooranis’

Thanks to his work, Walther is aware of social and economic issues prevalent in Indian villages

Thanks to his work, German geologist Dirk Walther has experienced a part of India that is closed to most expatriates. Sold on the idea that ooranis are a solution for water scarcity in villages, he negotiates with local authorities and villagers to implement it. As a result of such interactions, he is clued into the workings of the Panchayati Raj system and is aware of social and economic issues prevalent in Indian villages. Having lived in Kottivakkam for eight years now, Walther also has an insight into life in urban India.

With the benefit of such a wide exposure, Walther compares Indians to North Germans, who are slow to respond to overtures of friendship, but stay loyal after a bond is struck. A native of Hanover, a North German city, Walther feels he has come to Chennai without actually leaving Hanover.

As part of a German programme (anchored by the Centre for International Migration and Development) that places professionals in various countries to fill voids, Walther found himself put in charge of a water conservation project at the Centre for Environmental Studies, Anna University, where he teaches too.

It has been a satisfying stay for Walther, professionally and personally. He met his Hungarian wife Ildiko in Chennai. They now have a nine-month-old daughter named Sophie. Walther derives happiness from time spent with his family. But a network of friends and a set of activities also lend meaning to his life.

He is a key member in an informal group of Germans which gets together periodically. Passionate about football, he regularly plays the game with a group of expatriate and Indian friends. A devoted student of kalaripayattu, Walther woke up to the healing nature of yoga which he took up primarily to gain the flexibility required for the martial art. Practising yoga for over two-and-a-half years, he got cured of sinusitis, which he developed after coming to this city.

The only problems here, he says, are the heat, dust and traffic. Back home, Walther could use a cycle. Understandably, he is displeased with the Chennai traffic which is particularly unfriendly to cyclists.

A practical man, Walther knows he can’t have it all.

PRINCE FREDERICK

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