Water Water Everywhere, NOT a Drop to Drink!

H2O: Two letters and a Number: the very Essence of Life.
River Ganges, Rishikesh
Potable water.
As a child, I always confused this term with ‘portable’ water. Which is why I wondered what the fuss was all about, when articles highlighted how drinking water was precious- I mean just put some water in a bottle- doesn’t it become portable? How I wish it were to be, that simple!

Cut to the present day. We hear reports giving Doom’s Day predictions, routinely. In fact, such predictions have become so routine, that we have become immune to the horrifying details they carry, and we have learnt to conveniently brush it under the carpet. We have become thick-skinned to the pictures that highlight the plight of people in drought-hit areas. We have become apathetic to the grave situation of farmer suicides due to crop failure, a direct result of water shortage.

Recently a report highlighted how grave the situation is and went on to list twenty cities across the world which would be the first to go dry. And guess what? Bangalore finds a place on this unenviable list! Let’s stick to our country. A recent article highlighted how many major metros and cities in India would eventually face a crisis, sooner than later, due to water scarcity. 

Closer home, my hometown Mangalore, blessed with bountiful rains and gushing rivers, faced one of the worst known water crisis in the Summer of 2016; so much so that all the colleges were forced to send back students, till the rains arrived! Despite having plenty of resources at bay, a tanker of water sold for as high as Rs. 10,000 per tanker- talk about making hay while the sun shines! 
Alarming isn’t it. Unless something is done, the future does look, bleak 
River Phalguni, one of the many rivers that flow across Mangalore. 

In India, we are known to revere our rivers. Most of the major rivers are worshiped. Aarti ceremonies are held to salute the River Goddess Ganga at Rishikesh, Haridwar, Banaras, day after day. For us, a river is not just a river, we consider her equivalent to a Mother. Be it Maa Ganga, Narmada, Kaveri Amma, or the mighty Brahmaputra. 

Why then, can't this devotion be extended to the water coming out of our taps and faucets at home? Instead of Countries, States and Districts fighting over the water share from various rivers, can't we pledge as one, to do what's best for the cause of the River itself? Were the disastrous mega floods in 2013, Nature's way of warning mankind of the impending doom?
Praying to the Ganges, Haridwar. Do we really need such floats to express Devotion?

So where does #CuttingPaani enter the picture? 

In our own day-to-day routine lives, can we think of situations where unknowingly, water is just thrown away? You don’t want dust to enter your home/showroom- what do you do? Spray water regularly outside the door, to prevent dust from flying around! Bad enough? It gets worse.

You have guests at home- out come those beautiful TALL crystal glasses to serve some cold sparkling water. How often are all the glasses emptied? Out goes the remaining water into the kitchen sink. 
You go to a restaurant for an evening out. Customarily, water is served to each person. But of course, you drink only Mineral Water, straight from the Himalayas. So what happens to the ordinary water that was served initially? Into the sink.

We Indians love our baths. A long hot bath is considered purifying and refreshing. It is not surprising that the Indian Cricket Team was specifically asked to not take bath for more than two minutes on their recent tour to South Africa- Cape Town tops the scary list of twenty mentioned earlier. Such is our obsession with a Bath. Of course, our weather calls for it. But can't we be a bit more judicious and careful?

We love to celebrate Holi. Why not dry Holi? In my hometown, when I raised this pertinent question as to why tankers after tankers of water were brought in to celebrate a local version of Holi called Vokkul, I was plainly told, there is no fun without water.
Drinking Water splashed on the revellers during Vokkul celebrations, Mangalore

One common dialogue I get to hear is we don't have to worry about water, we have our own well! Dear Genius, your well water comes from the ground water, and not through some miraculaous mechanism. 
If someone does try to tell us the importance of water, many a times we blatantly say, what difference will it make? Of course it will make a difference. If you try to make even one other person aware, will it not matter? Isn’t this how great social reforms had spread in our beautiful country?

Today, let’s pledge as one, to take steps to save water.

Here are few simple things you can do in your day-to-day life:
  • Take bottled water with you. Avoid wasting water from the office cooler. You want just a sip, take just that much amount of water- that's the concept of #CuttingPaani
  • You have excess water? Feed it to your plants. Or the Cat. Or the Birds- especially during the Summer, when birds find it really hard to find drinking water.
  • Take bath from a bucket instead of a continuous overhead shower, or for the more affluent, a bathtub.
  • Something clich├ęd yet true: TURN OFF the tap when you’re shaving, brushing, scrubbing, doing the dishes, rinsing clothes. This probably accounts for the maximum water wastage at home. 
  • Instead of washing vegetables in running water, you could soak them for an hour in just enough water with turmeric and salt- much more effective than plain water.
  • Water used to clean fish is an excellent organic fertilizer for your coconut tree. My Grandmum always took care not to waste a single drop of such water, and made it a point to pour it around the coconut trees.
  • Dedicate a bucket or two at a corner of your bathroom to collect excess water. You could use it for non-drinking and non-cooking purposes, such as cleaning the bathroom tiles.
  • Collect the water when you rinse clothes, and use it to clean the toilets. Ek teer do nishaan, yeah?
  • Double check all the faucets when you leave home each time, and especially if you're going away. In my own building, there has to be one incident fortnightly where someone leaves home with the flush open, despite repeated pleas and requests to take care!
  • Repair that sneaky leaky flush or tap at the earliest. And till you get it repaired, turn off the main supply.
  • Habits are formed as you grow up. Teach your child the importance of being Smart with the use of water, not just using smart appliances!

Want a naughty tip? If you can’t do without showers, do it along with your partner. That way, you’ll at least save some water!

On a more serious note, the sooner we begin, better off will we be. It is never too late nor too difficult to start and inculcate water saving practices in our routine lives.

Have a look at this video, that best describes something that happens, very often in our homes:

In the end, I leave you with this image of the glorious Aarti Ceremony, held each evening to worship Maa Ganga, at Banaras. 
My dear fellow citizens, just worship will NOT be enough, please take the right and necessary steps in your day-to-day lives, to make sure, the next generation gets to see water in rivers and lakes, not just in bottles!

The beautiful Ganga Aarti ceremony at Kashi

This post is written as a part of IndiChange Livpure #CuttingPaani save water initiative. I urge each of you to sign the #CuttingPaani petition, and to save water by adopting  #CuttingPaani.

This initiative has a personal appeal to me. If you have been following this space regularly, you will find 1 out of 5 posts on something related to Rivers across our beautiful country or some kind of a water body. For some reason, I find these rivers to be a natural wonder; at the same time I find it really scary to look at the river beds gone dry, either due to lack of rain or the menace of sand mining. 
The danger is real, and is looming large.
Please do your bit to save water.
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  1. Yes, I remember reading about Mangaluru problem--- we should begin processing sea water and get potable water out of it...


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