*Fiction is a piece of truth that turns lies to meaning. Just wanted to tell you that, for no apparent reason.
Sweet drinking water would come from 8:30-9:30 every morning. As the clock struck 8:30, everybody automatically suspended all activity. Whatever you were doing - ironing, getting ready, eating breakfast, itching, shitting, sleeping, reading the paper etc. etc. Each and very member of my blink and you'll miss it family would rush off to various orifices of the house. "Children - go to the bathrooms and fill all the buckets/तसला (tubs)/mugs in visibility. And whatever you do, do not forget the big red tub. The big red tub." Someone would rush to fill the bottles with water enough to last the entire day. Someone smart would time their bath perfectly in order to wash there hair in the sweet water, ingenuity helping avoid the brackish water we got throughout the day (it could give sea water a run for its salt anyday).
We underwent years and years later of this amusing rigmarole. The normal water would go. Seconds later amidst lots of gurgling/flatulent sounds, muddy water would whoosh out. It was brown, as a certain Ms. Roy would say, the colour of tepid tea-water. Patiently we'd wait and soon the murkiness would give way to lovely sparkling sweet water. "Taste it before you fill it." That was the test. Either your mouths would pucker into preservation or delight in the chlorinated artifice that we recognized as sweetness.
Then one fine day the Aquagaurd guy came along. With his newly acquired English and fancy instruments, he made the sweet water routine history. No more 8:30 alarms and sudden standstills of things that didn't involve water. Now sweet (yes Bisleri sweet) water was at our beck and sip. Here a glug, there a glug, everywhere a......you get the hint. We rejoiced in an era free of water woes. Soon the Aquaguard became more a part of our home than the family itself. It gurgled merrily in the kitchen watching over the maid as she washed the dishes in the oh-so-salty-water, over the basmati rice as it lay soaking lusciously, over talkative dinners and leisurely lunches.
Good things of course have this unbelievable inevitable pre-destined downward trajectory. The Aquaguard went kaput. The guy who installed it, once a smile plastered salesman, strong contender for the most frequent bell ringer contest, was now summoned. Where this that leave us? Spoiled by our life of luxury, we were jolted back into the reality of water collection. Argh. And without its halo (utility), the Aquaguard I realized was quite a monster. He chewed into our electricity bills, purifying our sea water but at what cost? For every 10L it purified, it spewed out 20L of... wait let me taste it...absolutely normal tasting water!
The Aquaguard got okay (yes its a cycle - good thing goes bad then gets ok but can never live up to its earlier reputation of untainted 'goodness'). But at the same time began my water saving experiment. I started trying to reroute all the water that the Aquagaurd defecated into something other than the drain. Buckets were lined up in self-effacing embarrassment, awaiting their turn as they collected the Aquaguard's waste. The collected water went towards watering the plants, washing dishes (though the maid cribbed forever), cleaning the car, washing clothes and bathing the dogs! So, for a few bottles of aquaguarded water, here I was managing to do all my other water activities. Maybe the poor Aquaguard wasn't to blame. He just needed some tweaking. Tapping all the water that was generally wasted became my maniacal crusade.
The मीठा पानी routine was again relegated to its rightful place in history. But I being the dud I am managed to inflict upon myself another completely voluntary water routine. Well with a falling water table and expanding waistline, I guess no one is complaining.