When I was 5 years old, I heard my grandma say, a day will come when even water will be sold. It didn’t take too many years for her words to turn into everyday reality. Today buying drinking water is as common as buying groceries. We don’t trust water trickling from the taps. In earlier days, in most Indian households, drinking water used to be drawn either from wells or hand pumps dug and installed within homes or in a neighbourhood. Over the years, with overuse, ground water table gradually depleted. Changes in climate and rain patterns, soil erosion, deforestation and rapid urbanisation added to this deterioration. Due to widespread water pollution and contamination, we are forced to purchase drinking water.
Water water everywhere but not a drop to drink
Fast forward few years, I landed in Chennai as an adult on my first job. Thereafter, life took me living and working in coastal regions and extremely hot and humid cities. Chennai, Dubai and back to Chennai. These rain parched cities with zero ground water utilise treated sea water for everyday supply. You can see the impact of treated water on your scalp and skin. It’s like having a bad hair day every day, if you are not used to this type of water. Pani Da rang vekh ke….
In between, God decided to give me a break and I landed in Delhi. As luck would have it, I located a house in Vasant Kunj in South Delhi, that too in a sector, which didn’t have any water supply lines and water was supplied to individual homes via tankers. A 1000 litre every alternate day, irrespective of your family size or requirement. Can you imagine, a South Delhi locality of govt allotted flats of value upwards of a crore even at that time, with rationed water? The water was filled in tank at ground floor and we were required to pump it with a motor pump every day. Necessity is the mother of everything. I learnt how to fix air bubble in pipe, live without washing machine (because it wouldn’t run on low water pressure) and used my dishwasher as storage table.
My daughter was born while I was in Delhi and we often had family members visiting us on and off. But, like all things that we learn to adapt to and live without, we learnt living with limited supply of water. Some days there was a tanker strike or supply issues and we had to hunt for private tankers. A toddler, full time work and Delhi traffic was enough to test my nerves, but those years did train me to respect every drop of water.
Now, I live on the outskirts of Chennai, in midst of the IT corridor, close to the sea coast. There is no water pipeline in the entire area. Water is supplied through the year to all IT establishments and residential communities by tankers. In 2019, we faced severe water scarcity brought on by scant rains and dry reservoirs. While most parts of the city received piped water supply, our area went through a proper drought. At home, a thin trail of water would trickle for an hour a day, in two or three taps.
We learnt to plan our routines around the time water was pumped. In apartment groups we divided days when washing machines would be run on designated days for different apartments. We recycled every drop of water. RO refuse water went for mopping, plants were watered with water used for washing fruits vegetables and grains. Showers were cut down to bucket baths. This continued for a good three months through hot, humid, punishing summers. What you do for few months, becomes a habit.
Ever since, as a family, we reuse every drop of water. All the water used for washing food stuff is stored and given to plants. RO waste water is used for mopping and cleaning. Washing machine use is optimised and used at minimum water and power setting. Though rain gods have been generous last two monsoons, we have learnt how every drop matters. The best part is we were inundated in Nov, December with excess rains and some of us were marooned inside our apartments for good two weeks. Talk about extremes! But we know how to adjust and adapt. That’s what makes us resilient, isn’t it? Our USP! For everything else, we have Rajnikanth 🙂
‘This post is part of Blogchatter’s CauseAChatter’ (https://www.theblogchatter.com/causeachatter)