It rained last night for the first time in about 4 months. The hour prior to the arrival of rain,the sky was filled with an amazing pyrotechnic display and spectacular thunder claps which sent the street dogs scurrying for shelter.
The rain wasn’t expected as it normally doesn’t rain here until later in April in what locals call the “Mango showers” which herald the beginning of the much awaited mango season.
This morning everything is brighter and fresher, months of dust having been washed away and the plants gaining a new lease of life.
It’s not just rain we miss. The Municipal water supply (tap water) only comes once a week and we have to store the water and make it last until it comes again in 7 days.
We have an underground tank which stores 2500 litres and another two tanks on the roof which store 200 litres.
As soon as we hear the municipal water coming in the pipes, there is a frenzy of activity, as the garden gets watered and a week’s worth of clothes washing is done.
To supplement the municipal supply we have a rainwater harvesting system (now mandatory but rarely enforced) which stores 2000 litres. After last night’s rain this is now full but it has been empty for months and as the rains become scarcer and scarcer with each passing year it is becoming a less viable alternative.
Consequently we have had to adapt and evolve our water consumption out of necessity.
Baths are had by filling a bucket with water and then using a smaller jug to scoop and pour the water over you. This uses less water than a shower and is the technique most of India uses.
The tap is definitely turned off while brushing one’s teeth and the toilet is only flushed for “2’s”.
My beautiful roof terrace garden which used to boast tomatoes and strawberries has been replaced through attrition, with drought hardy plants that can survive a once a week watering.
I have now become paranoid about water usage and my new super power is that I can hear a dripping tap from 100 metres away.
Awareness of the water shortage does not yet seem to have filtered through to a lot of the general public though. Some of our neighbours insist on washing their cars daily and throwing water down on their driveways and footpaths every morning. When their water runs out they just order in a tanker. The water tankers are filled from private bore-wells which tap into an ever depleting groundwater. Bore wells in Bangalore now have to drill down over 1000 feet to reach water and as the insatiable demand grows, the wells are increasingly drying up.
My water habits are now so ingrained that when I travel out of India I wince at the profligate wastage of water to the extent that friends make fun of me! One friend in Hong Kong (which itself imports 70% of it’s water from neighbouring China) would taunt me by turning on the tap every time I entered the kitchen and delighting in my horrified reaction!