It’s 08:30 am and my mother is looking out for Vishnu. With the keys of water pump in his possession, he is the main man in our building. Every morning, Vishnu opens the central tap of the overhead tank from which the water is released through the taps in our house. But Vishnu has to wait for the tank to first get refilled with water supplied through municipality connection. Once he is sure that the building overhead tank has reached adequate volume, he goes ahead with his daily distribution. The gushing flow lasts only for 45 minutes to and hour and sometimes even less. My mother speeds up with his domestic chores and sets aside water for cooking and drinking in bigger vessels in the kitchen. Its sort of a panic routine and she managed the situation efficiently for decades. Some water is boiled for drinking and stored in filters. During winters, its warmed and used for bathing. This was in 80’s and 90’s when we didn’t had water purifier and geyser in our house.
Everything was supervised and consumed within the limited supply we received. We as children had strict instructions to use minimum water for bathing, mostly one bucket. Even our clothes were washed with hands from the days quota. Washing machines were still an aspirational commodity or to put in other words our family didn’t had material success.
I grew up seeing my mom struggle with several things and water crises was one of those hardships. In the peak of summer, there were days when the watchman skipped the required distribution routine and came to inform us ‘madam aaj paani nahi aayega’ (madam you won’t get water supply today). A statement made with convenience brought much ordeal and agony to our days beginning. Readers from Mumbai and many parts of India will relate to what am saying. One feels tortured going through such misery but can’t do much about it.
Frequent instances of water shortage lead to frustration and sometimes verbal spats. This is a typical scenario most Mumbaikar’s face. Its kind of a curse living in an urban city where one gets vulnerable to the point that he has to get into fights or purchase water from the market if he can afford to do so. Today, even though my mom is not around, the crises of domestic water cycle continues.
In a couple of weeks, ‘Holi’ – the festival of colors will be celebrated throughout India and some Asian and Western countries where Indians live as expat communities. I have no statistical figure of how many gallons will be consumed cumulatively in a single day to celebrate the fest, but surely, it will involve liberal use of water for example ‘Pool Parties’. And post celebrations, at least two to three times of the normal average will be utilized for cleaning skin and hair dyed in colors.
Thankfully, having gone through troubled days in my growing up years, I am grateful that I was sensitized to the situation and taught to value this scarce resource much early. Therefore, In my house we celebrate dry Holi and as a family we have matured and learnt to tackle the circumstances in a balanced way. Its not that we are against this festive culture, but for us the day is all about greeting everyone around, offering prayers and sharing sweets.
Recently, the Mumbai civic body in their public awareness ad campaign highlighted how their efforts are contributing to the welfare of the city. As published in the media, the campaign uses emotional storytelling to encourage behavioral change and prompt citizens to take ownership of their own actions by not littering or wasting water.
‘A Shared Resource is a Shared Responsibility’ sums up from all that I read about the campaign.
Watch this video by released by @mybmc on twitter.
West Coast Riders, a cycling group that loves cycling along Mumbai’s vast coastline, ventured for a ride to Vihar Lake. This man made lake built in 1860 is within the precincts of Borivali National Park and meets around 3% of water needs of Mumbaikars. The ambient environment is a visual delight, refreshing for the lungs, re-assuring and quenches the thirst.
Synopsis of the ride, best described by a fellow cyclists Tasneem Ali:
This day was accentuated with a thrill of an Eustressful ride, as we tussled with the traffic that chased us over the roads, followed up by a gradual climb, over the slopes, only to race down speedily on the bumpy terrain, by and by resulting in a stroll, that finally which brought us to a stop, at the scheduled location, the entire sequence woven smoothly and infused with refreshing energy.
The Rising Sun, animated the beauty giving a vibrant color, that merged the Mind with the Soul setting ourselves in a bliss.
Long before a few of us conjured up a vision of not being on a holiday, only to get back and repeat the Eustressful experience.
Photos of our ride to Vihar Lake.
Photos by Rohit Mahadev, Bryan Noronha, Chris, Ayesha, Pavitra and others.
Author: Vijay Malhotra, Mumbai