My maternal ancestral home stood on the fringes of a lush green paddy field overlooking the cloud-caressed peaks of the majestic Nelliyampathy hills, Kerela, India. A careful trek through the muddy path between arable lands where paddy danced to the tunes of the wind was the only way to reach grandmother’s home.
The well in the backyard was the main source of water for the entire household. Bountiful rain ensured an abundant supply of mineral-rich groundwater through the year that filtered through layers of rich sand before it seeped up to the well’s surface. The task of filling the pots in the house with well water for consumption and domestic use through the day fell on Mother and her siblings through her younger days. In spite of the non-existence of air-conditioned gyms, the men and women in this little hamlet sported strong arms and feet for this exercise of drawing water from the well and trekking up and down the long walkway balancing a steel pot on their hips — a routine in every household, was nothing less than a good morning workout.
Drawing water from a well must be like learning to ride a bike, a skill one never forgets, for Mother skilfully drew water from the well when we visited grandmother during the school vacations and much later when the long spells of power disruption cut the supply of water to the taps in our flat in Bengaluru.
My cousins and I, the filter-water generation of kids had always known water to come from taps. We cringed at this mineral-rich groundwater when our eyes caught a stray leaf in pots of stored well water during our brief stay at our grandparent’s home. Power disruptions were not unusual but, like my grandparents, the shortage of clean and fresh water was never a thought, yet, like everything else, we learnt to use it wisely.
My children better know water coming in shapely plastic bottles from a supermarket. They have never faced power or water crisis but have read about the horrors of people facing frequent droughts, depleting groundwater tables following a severe water shortage during the summer months.
Luckily for us, these calamities are not ours to face and have not disrupted the abundance of choice for bottled water on grocery shelves that range from regular treated water that can only quench our thirst to the exotic designer brands that does a little more than just that.
Like the oxygenated water that claims to improve athletic performance and the rich burp that follows a good gulp to be the value-added bonus.
If you wish to taste the freshness of the Arctic with your exotic dinner, there is the 150000-year-old melted iceberg water, bottled complete with the taste of snow. After all, depleting a few tonnes of iceberg is not much in the grand scheme of things.
If you are the doting spouse who forgot to pick up the diamond ring on your way to the celebratory birthday dinner, there is the Swarovski-studded bottled water that can give your partner glittering company and quench your parched throat and frail nerves until the ring makes an appearance.
If excess money is burning a hole in your pocket and luxury is on your mind, then an elegant mix of spring water from Fiji and France along with glacier water from Iceland laced with 5mg of 23-karat gold dust will be your perfect accompaniment to a lavish spread. Fanfare music will be the only thing missing when your taste buds are brought to life in the delight of its crisp, filling taste.
But if it is just thirst that you want to quench, try the extensive range of treated water that comes in shapely plastic bottles available at your favourite supermarket. Just make sure that you use it wisely.
— Pranitha Menon is a freelance writer based in Dubai. Twitter: @MenonPranitha