A Tale of little frogs and girls washing their hair…

Water memories from India.

When I was small even in a city like Bombay which used to be the most developed place in India water was a rare good. Rain was abundant during monsoons, yet, it would be gone away soon. I remember collecting tiny little frogs who would jump into the house in an empty wastepaper basket and put them out into the rain.

People would just have one sort of cell in their one or two room flats inhabited by large joint families that were used as a wet-room. Only the rich people in and around Malabar Hill had attached marbled bathrooms to their respective bedrooms (inhabited by each couple of the joint family).

The women of the house would fill the plastic buckets sometimes even very old fashioned steel buckets with tap water (which would run only for few hours in the early morning). Then the family routine would start with a fight over who can take a bath first and the water would be heated on the gas. You would get one bucket or maximum two bucket and then pour water over yourself with a small container.

Very often the same cell would be used for other sanitary purposes. Water closets were a rarity and a kid Indian Toilets were my worst nightmare!

Yet, water, as we all know, has a holy status in India. If you enter somebody’s house as a guest you receive a glass of water first. Water is precious and its scarcity made it even more precious.

I grew up in northern Germany where water is abundant. You just open the tap and cold and hot water just runs out of it. I grew up with the luxury of having a tub and could stay in there literally for hours until my mom would scream. I learned swimming in a pool. And, I could straight away drink the water from the tap. Things like this were a 5 star luxury in a city like Bombay in those days.

Yet, I also learned to be careful with my water consumption, i.e. only use flush ones and not leaving the tap open while brushing my teeth.

For most parts of Bombay the before mentioned things are unheard, but more and more joint families of those little flats are able to move in bigger flats, also having more then one bathroom. The families are getting smaller, the flats bigger and so does the water consumption. People drive flashy cars and wash there hair everyday.

Leaving aside nostalgia this is an import big step of a developing emerging economy. Yet, question is, what is going to be the impact.

From the big nexus my thoughts lead me to my small cross-cultural observations which are closer to me.

I would like to know what you think? What are your everyday observation in water use? what do you to conserve and save water? Where do you see a nexus?

 

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About odissi30

My name is Puja Doshi. I am an anthropologist from Hamburg interested in the topic of water.
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