I want to tell a real story from our life.
When I was in school, during the summer holidays, I travelled with my parents to Delhi, by Train. It was a 3-day journey from Mysore to New Delhi. Obviously, we were not carrying food or adequate drinking water. The railway staff would take orders for breakfast, lunch or dinner at the previous station. Whenever the train stopped in an interim Railway Station, we would get down and drink water from the tap, This travel took us from Chennai to Bihar, Assam, A Detour from Asasm’s Jalpaiguri in the old small train, up the hill to Darjeeling. Then on a return journey to New Delhi, and then on to Agra, Jaipur, Punjab, The Golden Temple of Amritsar, Chandigarh, and then down south to Mumbai, Goa, and return to Mysore.
Until we reached Calcutta, it was orderly. At the Calcutta Station when we changed trains, many of our berths and even chairs were taken “First come First”. Reservations did not matter and we were rudely paused to the front of the toilet and all our bags dumped in the Toilet. From then Reservations would not work. We put towels on seats, that would disappear in a flash. If we did the physical hustling some of us would get berths/seats, and the rest of us on the floor Survival of the fittest. We had no chance in the “Pushing & Shooing”
It was all about friendships and Camaraderie, with some intermittent Plant visits and lots of sightseeing. We missed the connecting train, slept on the platform in Patna, washed, etc., and were glad to see the next train. Once we reached Chandigarh, we took a flight to New Delhi. Stayed in a Dormitory. After we reached Agra, we got to stay in a nice hotel. Gave enough time to wash our clothes and other material, and more importantly wash ourselves clean.
Then began our journey to Mumbai and it was summer time, outside temperature touching 50 degrees celsius, at last, we reached Mumbai and after a couple of days at Mumbai, we took a late evening ship to Goa. We could not get cabins and were herded into the main sore area, where we were amongst goats, chickens, lots of dead fish. Some of those who got seasick went across to the front of the ship and lied down next to the Anchor. It was drizzling lightly but laid down near the Anchor. There was a sudden release of the Anchor that made a big noise. We were all up. There were some of the livestock, company into our little boats, and embarking of new material and men. We later realised that there would be many more such stops. We realised that this Ship traveled close to the coastline, and at every stop, it was unloaded and download goods, men, livestock, and fish. At last, we reached Panaji at Day Break. We checked into a YWCA and slept peacefully. Some of us had enough of roughing out. We took an overnight bus to Mysore. The other batch arrived a couple of days later.
This journey was in June/July 1983. We ate on the train, at the Railway Stations where we got a break. Water from the tap in the railway platforms. There was this strength and Immunity to pull through. Imagine us doing it today.
While there is a trust deficit about consuming water direct from a tap or a hand pump, Most of us carry bottles of water from our homes, and when exhausted you buy bottled water from an AQUAFINA, BISLERI or RAILWATER. The Indian Railways have also realised that people buy bottled water.
What had happened during these 40 years is:
We have neglected and polluted our rich and pure river waters – the big industrial wastes are let into the river water even before treating them. Domestic waste and sewage canal find their way to freshwater lakes.
With the major shifts in Climate change where Glaciers are melting, eating away more and more land.
During the early 2000s when I started flying very frequently to the UK, America, and mainland Europe and countries. During my early years, if I called the Concierge for a few bottles of drinking water, they would say drink it from the sink, it is safe.
Later my local friend told me never to drink the water from the sink. That water is recycled three times, and it has passed through a human body about three times. That means it will carry traces of antibiotics, pain relievers, Anti-Allergins, Steroids, etc. Now, most hotels in most countries leave complimentary drinking water bottles, and we can even ask for a few extra bottles. If they limit the complimentary bottles, many times we buy and carry the bottles to the Hotel room. There is no form of life without water.
Over several decades, the human race has polluted water, and we continue to do it. It is time to give back the care with which we treat Fresh Drinking water sources and make them safe and set again. It has to be every Individual’s pledge to regain the purity of water as it was in the last century.
The seriousness of the situation has to be educated to children of all age groups. They can be asked to collect water in sterile bottles from the banks of their river and analyze its component molecules using a Raman Spectrometer, to understand the various chemical hazards that may be present in them.
School holidays, three days journey from Mysore to Delhi.