The Elixer of Life: My Water Stories

Water is essential for human beings to survive. Water carries nutrients to all cells in our body and oxygen to our brain. allows the body to absorb and assimilate minerals, vitamins, amino acids, glucose, and other substances, flushes out toxins and waste and helps to regulate body temperature. As a general rule of thumb, a human being can survive without water for roughly 72 hours or three days. And many experts have predicted that the next major world crises will be over water and suggest that growing water scarcity will drive violent conflict as access to water dries up for certain communities.

So with all the importance of water, it is certianly an essential part of our lives. In many parts of the world, water can be hard or soft and most water that is piped is usually soft water, which is treated and only has chorine and sodium. I am super finicky about the taste of water and probably because of the water I am used to, both while growing up in Mumbai and now in Singapore, which is treated chrolinated water, I can’t drink or find it hard to drink any other type of water. So here are some water stories from my life.

A representation of the water cooler we used to carry. Source

When we were younger, we used to travel by train during our summer holidays to visit our grandparents, first only to Bengaluru and then to Chennai first and then to Bengaluru. This is way before bottled water flooded the Indian market and on a train travel, the only water you had was either the water you carried with yourself in large cans or coolers or what you were able to refill in stations enroute. So we would carry as much water as we could from home in large five or 10 litre cans and this was common with pretty much everyone doing the same. This water would finish up roughly about halfway into the journey and we would have to fill it up from one of the stations, usually in Andhra Pradesh. The water would usually be hard and have a brackish taste to it and I would stop drinking water. If I was very thirsty, I would badger my mother to buy me a drink or something else to quench my thirst and if nothing was available, then a sip or two would all that I could stomach. Luckily the period of low to no water would not be too long and we would reach Bengaluru soon and as soon as we reached home, I would gulp water from the largest glass available.

In fact in our home in Bengaluru or Bangalore as it used to be called then, we had two sources of water – one from the well in the house which was slightly hard and the second which was piped in by the city from the Kaveri. I always preferred the Kaveri water and would always tell my grandmother to keep that water for drinking. This water would come in once every other day and when it came in, it would be a process to ensure it was pumped up to the holding tanks so it could be used for cooking eating and drinking while the well water was used for other needs. In fact, on our most recent trip to Bengaluru, my aunt’s house also had some kind of semi-hard water and I just could not bring myself to drink it. This trip was a very short one and we spent a fair amount of time outside visiting family in the city, so I didn’t have to drink it a lot, but the relief I felt when coming back to Bombay and drinking normal water was so immense that everyone who saw me rush to the kitchen to drink water as soon as we reached home had a hearty laugh at my expense.


My maternal grandparents house in Chennai was another matter and there was no source of any soft water. So holidays there used to be a torture for me because there was no alternative source of water I could use. I soon learnt that if the water was ice cold, the taste could be masked and I could drink it, so that’s exactly what I did. Now, I am someone who normally does not drink cold water, but when in Chennai, I would ensure that there was sufficient cold water available so I could use that cold water for drinking and for even brushing my teeth! Our trip to Chennai used to be for a week, after which we would travel to Bangalore for the rest of the holiday, so it was not too bad.

Another story, similar to the above comes from the time when I was around 15. We were on a school trip to the beach town of Bordi which lies almost at the border between the states of Maharashtra and Gujarat. The whole class X cohort was on the trip, and was a combined Girl Guides and Social Services service trip. In Bordi the water was so bad that pretty much none of us drank the water. And this was the late eightees, so we didn’t have much in terms of pocket money and would restrict ourselves to one bottle of a soft drink a day which we would empty into our water bottles. Girls with a larger amount of pocket money would have purchased more than one and all of us were so glad to be back in Bombay where we could drink water to our heart’s content. This three day trip has been in my memories for more than three decades now because I can still remember the feeling of thirst and now being able to drink water because it was so bad. Like what I used to do in Chennai, when the thirst got too much to bear, we would drink a couple of sips of the hard water and then stop.


So these were my water stories. Water is the true elixir of life, with over 71% of our planet and up to 60% of our bodies made up of water. Without water, life will cease to exist and for this reason, we must learn to preserve it for the future generations.

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