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Name:
Nayan Bhatt
Photo:
NAYAN BHATT.pdf
Academic Field:
Geology
Years at RTC:
1961-1964
Town of origin:
Kenya
Recent Residence:
Perth, Australia
Life after RTC:
After the graduation in1964, I was, as prearranged, recruited by the Mines and Geological Surveys Of Kenya as a ?Trainee? and pushed out to the bush to assist in a geological mapping of the Suswa quarter degree map. It was great camping very close to the capital city, Nairobi, and encountered lots of big five of the wild life and some of the steepest terrains of the Rift faulting. There were few motorable tracks along the valleys but it was hard foot slogging along the the horsts and across the faulting. Early 1965 the government sponsored and sent me to complete the training to honors degree at the Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand

Meanwhile the Kenya government after independence negotiated a mineral exploration programme for western Kenya with the U.N.D.P. and was seconded, on arrival back, in November 1965 to a geochemical team initially to collect, analyse and plot metal worm maps. This was followed by transfer to the geophysical team to search for metal deposits. During this phase met and learnt a lot from foreign consultants, acquired a taste for exotic duty free liquors and cigars. Towards the end of 1966 was sponsored for a UNDP fellowship to Canada and Sweden for four months with lots of money compared to Kenyan wages. And that gave an extra degree of freedom to travel, meet people, and learn geophysics.
Successfully delineated the lead zinc geophysical anomaly in coastal Kenya which subsequently became a mine after arrival back from overseas.

In 1968 the University of Nairobi recruited me to teach geology. The foreign interests in Kenya were rising very rapidly and the aid was flowing towards acquisition of geophysical equipments, supporting gears and facilities. I was able to participate in most of the university projects, jointly promoted with Kenya government by Swedish Japanese and German and English governtments. These projects created exciting and interesting field geological and geophysical studies in diverse terrains like Kenyan Rift Valleys, Ethiopian Rift Valleys, Mt Kenya,Taita Hills and Lake Turkana where the Leakeys were digging up hominid remains. Several Papers were published and participated in International conferences in New Delhi India, Moscow, Russia. The world was just not big enough. Meanwhile

I married Hamida in 1968 after a stormy affair. She bore two delightful baby boys in 1973 and 1974. The growing family, their kindergartens, and other activities began to put a heavy burden on our financial resources even though both of us were working. I began to supplement the shrinking Kenyan salary by consulting in geology and applied geophysics in search of ground water and foundation investigations for large dams during holidays. In order produce larger income from consulting I resigned from University in early 1982. Within few months there was a violent coup attempt by Kenyan Air force which was brutally put down, the scattered remnants of the air force personnel went on a looting rampage which caused great business destruction in the city. Our housing estate was visited by six machineguns totting looters and made a thorough job of stripping us of all the cash and valuable they fancied in the homes. When the first normal day of business opened, I visited Canadian, American, Australian and New Zealand migration offices and collected forms for emigration out of Kenya. Meanwhile after the coup attempt and the destruction of business confidence, the foreign aid dried up.

And the torrential flow of tourist dollar ceased. Money became scarce. Kenya went into a steep recession. And I had just left my university teaching job. The attached privilege of a good house disappeared. I had to move into rental affordable accommodation for our family. Luckily my wife had a nursing job.

I started going to the bush, in search of niche industrial mineral deposits in contrast to the glamorous gemstones and precious metals which was cornered by the local people of influence. In time I developed a market for Kaolin, feldspar, wollastonite and quartz with local ceramic and steel industries. And I contract milled mineral coal for the local battery company. Theses were pick and shawl operations and used contract trucks for delivery with minimum capital outlay. I had to use blasting only rarely and fortunately I had acquired the necessary skills during my seismic operations. The business began to tick over slowly, giving me moderate income and lots of satisfaction. In 18 months time consulting also picked up with the gradual resumption of foreign aid. It was exciting to participate in half a dozen hydroelectric dam sites investigations besides numerous bridges, quarry sites and ground water schemes. Happy times were back.

In 1987 we received a phone call from Australian High Commission to resubmit our application for migration which we did together with other procedures as required by them, like medical, police clearance etc. We got an approval for migration to Australia. Regretfully I had to dismantle all my achievements in Kenya and prepare to adopt another home. We arrived in Sydney May 25th 1988. My wife had a job within a week not too far from our home at a hospital as a nurse. For the next six months I had no work in Sydney but plenty of work in Kenya so I went twice back to Kenya for major dam sites investigations. On a return journey took a good look at Perth in a stopover and moved there in early 1989. Perth hosts one of the largest assemblages of mining companies with numerous exploration and mining projects in all kinds of minerals. But the industry is extremely conservative, and personnel from other states are resented by the locals.

It was a major struggle to establish myself as a mine geologist after having been a geophysicist for quite a while in Kenya. Had a lucky break through a Kenyan connection and started off at a rock bottom scale at a gold mine. My duties started as a grade control and mapping geologist and in the latter I established a good reputation. From this experience work followed and had no problem except during the recessionary phases of the industry. After a couple of years of work the mining industry treated me well and was one of the highest paid contract mine and mine site exploration geologist. Continued to work at a diminishing pace until the age of 75 years.

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