From H2O to M2O


Since we have proven to be very bad water managers, maybe it’s time to start manufacturing this depleting, but most precious commodity, says Nivedita Louis.

Mom, you know what? We are going to witness the next World War. Do you know what it will be for?’ she quips, as I try to hide my unease and nod my head. “For water, mom!”, she says and keeps on babbling. “Baby… I need some water, who will bring mommy a glass of water?” I ask, and the two devils point fingers at each other. There starts a verbal sparring, and then a full-fledged war!
If you ask me which is the most valued property in the summer, I would say it is nothing other than H2O. The water-tables of our plains move vertically in tandem with our stock markets on a bear hug. Come summer, the aam aadmi can conveniently lick off his aam juice-smeared fingers than look for water.

Most of us in our part of the country have the luck of fetching water from trucks that carry water supplied by the government. Like all government queues, the queue for water is always filled with proxies in all colours –plastic pots in hues of yellow, green, blue and red. The brighter the colour, the easier it is to spot the pot from a distance. Have you ever witnessed the cat-fights on street corners for water? The gentry have to shut down all their audio mechanisms, lest they hear the choicest of ‘blessings’ showered bang on their faces. Copious hair-pulling, sari-tearing, scratching and yowling later, the two fighter women will find themselves alone with empty pots and emptying streets.

Want to detect the presence of water on a parched summer morning? Follow the milkman. The dhoodhwallah of small towns and villages knows the best tap that can deliver, so much so that his milk pail jumps with glee and sits under the tap all by itself. Another most effective way to combat water scarcity would be our ‘summer vacation’ trips to the relatives.

Pack your things, lock up the waterless desert that you call a house, and just leave. Always choose your emotional ‘proximity’ to those relatives residing at river basins.

Pack your things, lock up the waterless desert that you call a house, and just leave. Always choose your emotional ‘proximity’ to those relatives residing at river basins. It would be a double whammy if their residences are at hill stations. Serves you one more purpose – saves on your grocery for the month, so you can concentrate on robbing the banks to pay the school fee for the children, come May! One word of caution, though. Be prepared to host the same bunch of guests next vacation, you repay kindness with kindness…

Try replacing paper towels at home. We Indians always have our own reservations against dry cleaning. High time we introduced wet wipe bath, paper dried backs, and ‘waterless’ washrooms in our homes. I really wish the TV people stop showing Liril ads every ten minutes, where the lady splashes about in tons of fresh water, while we poor souls have to be content with writing “fresh water” on a paper and read it. And oh…should we not recycle our water? The human body has 90 percent water. How delightful would it be to unzip the stomach, insert a straw and sip up some water on a hot summer afternoon? We are badly designed museum antiques. Maybe we should improvise in casting our genX.

Water, and can we forget the disputes between states for it? Neighbouring states that remain bhai-bhai during monsoons turn up sudden WWF fighters with the onset of summer. They glare, rear up and charge, fighting down every drop of water, taking the issue to courts, Parliament and down to the streets.

At the rate our governments strip off the rivers of sand, the river beds would be craters the size of a married man’s wallet by the end of the month. We have been building nuke reactors at alarming speed, and the dams remain long forgotten. Still, much of our monsoon waters empty in vain into the oceans, untapped and unused. I wonder if we will have to ‘manufacture’ water only in laboratories in future. It will be, M2O or Made To Order!


Nivedita Louis

Nivedita Louis is a writer, blogger and social activist by choice. Bitten by the travel bug, and smitten by nature, she loves travelling and cooking. She blogs at