Water

November 3, 2010 at 9:15 AMNov (Friends, Musings, Slice Of Life, Soliloquy)

I heard the voice of Shishira but dint hear what he said to which Ravi replied saying “Ask the waiter to get a bottle of water” to which Shishira reacted saying “he will charge us Rs 10/- for that” and it was then that I realized that in that restaurant we were not served with water and also got to know that if asked for water they will get a bottle of water for which we will have to pay. I went so wild that I wanted to drink the blood of the people who came up with such ideas to make money. But as we were thirsty and as no drink can quench ones thirst like water we decided to ‘buy’ a bottle of water and we were charged Rs 15/- for that.

It was long ago, while I was young that for the first time that I heard someone speak of Bisleri (The brand mineral water which had almost become a synonym for mineral water) and I was shocked by the very fact that even water is being sold in the market.

***

I spent my pre-school childhood with my grandparents in Byndoor, where our house stands by the main road of Byndoor. The woodcutting women used to cross our house while going to the forest and while coming back. Most of the times they, while coming back, would stop by our house and ask for water which we gave them with some pieces of jaggery. They would sharpen their wood cutting instruments in my grandfather’s workshop and then go ahead carrying the heavy bundle of wood that they accumulated that day, for sale, before which sitting at our place they would talk to my grandmother referring to her as “Amma” meaning ‘mother’.

Not just woodcutters but also the people going to the weekly market on Friday’s would stop by our house to drink water, at times. So on Friday’s we used to keep water in a huge can ready to serve many a unknown market visitors, who would stop by our house and ask for water. These buyers would start a conversation with my grandmother saying how the rates of vegetables have increased and how economical it was a few years ago. In the evening, the ones who were selling vegetables and other stuff in the market the entire day, on their way back home, at times would stop by our house and ask for water and to my grandmother they would say how difficult it is to survive selling vegetables.

Whenever some guests came home, not only in Byndoor, but even at my place in Manipal also, the first thing we do unconsciously, after inviting the guests in and making them sit, is to serve water without asking them if they are in need of it. It’s only at a later stage that we ask if they would like to have coffee, tea or juice.

Serving water to the guests was a kind of custom at home and also in my grandfather’s place and as far as my knowledge goes in all the houses with which I have been familiar with. Serving water to the unknown woodcutters and market goers was a kind of this custom to us in Byndoor.

At times I have heard many come out with expressions like “he wouldn’t even ask if she needs water if she happens to visit him” to say how rude the man is, which almost equaled the act of not serving water to people with rudeness.

Even the hotels serve(d) water when the customer arrives and then takes the order. Once an uncle of mine walked out of a hotel when the waiter there took a long time to serve water. My uncle said that by the act of not serving water he felt ‘unwelcomed’.

This is why I felt awkward when, for the first time, I had heard of Bisleri mineral water which was being sold. And today the realization of a ‘branded’ restaurant not serving water to its customers and making them buy water makes my blood boil. Isn’t it sad that water had become a market product! If a day comes when we will have to pay for the air that we breathe, I shouldn’t be surprised.

08 September 2008

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