Eating is an agricultural act - Wendell Berry

Friday, January 12, 2007

expt 4 - thanni adikkarathu

title in tamil means 2 very different things.
1. to consume alcohol
2. to pump water

mean the latter, of course.

life growing up in a water scarce city like chennai always made us ultra careful on usage and wastage.
one of the daily morning rituals was a father-son bonding at hand pump, where over 1-2 hours (depending on the whims of Metro Water), we would would do rapid arm exercises while filling up the large tank.

in a water surplus (in most areas) city like mumbai, life is more easier for the middle classes and above. water-on-tap is really a nice luxury.

the upbringing has always meant that i am careful with water. but as you would imagine, the luxury seeps little by little into the system.

went today early to a small village near karjat (ladivli gaon). was meeting a group of village women over a project for our students in the summer. the meeting was at a hanuman mandir, right outside of which was this hand pump with 10 or women with assortment of pots and pans.

moved right into the zone.
didi - let me pump.

i thought, 25 or so pots to fill, piece of cake !

so started with quite a vigour and kept going.
this cute girl after say 10 pots done, asks - "bhaiyya, are you not tired?"

twinkling i say, "do you get tired while playing?. (i have to stop answering questions with questions). if you have fun doing anything, then you can overcome tiredness."

in all this time, the number of empty pots never seemed to diminish. a la akshaya patra.
i completed at least 30 pots, but there was still an equal number waiting to be filled !!
they were coming in such small trickles that i could not keep track !!

what a significant part of a village women's life is spent around water gathering. came back to me again. and these are the lucky ones who have a pump right in their village. thousands in rajasthan and gujrat trek miles everyday for a measly 2 pots. 'right to water' should also be fundamental...what is life without water anway.

arms aching now. must have been at it for 15 mins or so. in my youth at my house i could go on for 45 mins. but this is:
1. a larger pump
2. lower output
3. older csm

was relieved soon my a friend. really solid workout for the arms :-)

half bucket baths, recycling wash water to water plants, closing drippy taps: all memories came back flooding.

promised myself to be frugal, avoid wastage, talk to kids (that was coming, right!).


Vanessa said...

Nice to be online at the same time as you. Reading the posts fresh.
Life in Chennai: brings back memories for me too. I was lucky, we had a boaring (hope i have spelled it correct.) in the building. So we actually had water through the tap. Even though it was muddy, we HAD water.

There was a Syntex tank in front of the building, which the municipality tanker would fill up. And people would come with the plastic pots, (so typical to Chennai now). one pot would cost 50 paisa. Then they would load it on a bicycle one pot on each side and carry it. I always wondered how they could manage with so little water. After i came back from Chennai, i would shout at my mother if she kept the tap on a little longer. We stopped using the shower for bath as it consumes more water. This was an unconscious decision and has stuck with us till date.

S, i believed , the scarcity in Chennai has intensified in recent years. I didn't know it was equally bad in your growing up years. Sorry if i am ignorant, but i have always related the scarcity with the Kaveri dispute, please correct me.

I visited Marina beach once or twice and wondered, "Isn't there a technology to convert sea-water to fresh water?" Would be a nice project for IIT, Chennai students?

And lastly , Karjat is my native place. Village called Vaijanath, few kms from Karjat. I remember using those hand-pumps, turn by turn along with my cousins, (that includes Sameer too). Of course, it was only in summer vacations, taht too for fun. Not the daily struggle like the locals.

csm said...

thanks j.
govt supplied tanker water, even today, is a large reality to many areas.
kaveri (cauvery) is not conected to chennai water supply. it is krishna. started by the big 2 friends (mgr and ntr in early 80s). took around 20 years to complete when another 2 dosts (karunanidhi and candrababu) were in power.

desalination is under testing. too expensive as it stands. you need to have oil $$ like the gulf states to pull that kind of a solution.

karjat is under the throes of change. vast areas are being converted to resorts and what not. the new destination for farmhouses as well.

Vanessa said...

Why is every TN CM having this Cauvery dipute with Karnataka? Is it water for irrigation in rural TN?

csm said...

all rivers crossing state or national boundaries are in dispute.
dams for hydroelectricty are there across many rivers. whoever controls this dam, has this sense of power.
farmers have become extremely dependant on supplies from these courses like they have become dependant on chemical fertilisers and GM seeds. so then they beome ripe for exploitation.

the solution is to regain our traditional approach to cropping ang agriculture.

lot of articles on water