And so my day begins at 3.30 am …

We are reeling in the throes of a very severe crisis of water, reports Ratna Rajaiah. In her extremely caustic article she talks about how the daily lives of people in Mysore is being dominated by the availability of Water. For those of us that live in large cities where water still runs through our taps on demand, it’s a warning of things soon to come. Whether in London, New York,Los Angeles or Tokyo. ” “40% of Bangalore (India’s Silicon Valley) is getting water only once in 3 days”. Do read …..

We are reeling in the throes of a very severe crisis of water.
“We” as in all of Karnataka, the thumb rule being, the poorer you are, the more “wrong-side-of-the-Cauvery” your address and the smaller your town, the less water you get.
Yesterday, the front page morning news said that 3000 villages in the state have “severe shortage” of drinking water. That means we won’t even talk about how much water they get to bathe, cook and ablute…
Naturally, the Chief Minister, always sensitive to such situations, immediately sanctioned 50 crores of rupees to “tackle the problem”. I know that I should have been impressed but since I am a foolish, uninformed, naïve “Person On The Street” (POTS ), I can’t help wondering about a few things.
So, here’s my Naïve, Foolish Question No 1:
If there is no water, how do you “tackle” the problem of water shortage?
Maybe we could take a leaf out of Marie Antoinette’s book and give people…let me see, now….if she suggested cake as substitute for bread then could it be cola for water? And how many villages can be cola-fied for 50 crores? (I’m told that Hrithik Roshan’s current fee is 10 crores per film. So, how many “Sabka Thanda” films would Aamir do for 50 crores?)
More importantly, the Chief Minister also “endorsed the idea” of opening 24/7 (no relative of the TV news channel) control rooms to repair water pumps and such like things.
Naïve, Foolish Question No. 2 : Why weren’t the pumps repaired earlier – like say before the onset of summer?
Naïve, Foolish Question No. 3 – If there is no water, what are they going to pump?
Cola, maybe?
Or better still, Eau De Cologne? Which, if you think about it, will be great because it will cool you down AND tackle the stink of unwashed bodies, stagnant drains and toilet cooking in 35 + degrees heat. And it will also put Karnataka on the global map because “Eau” is water in French…
(Though I’m not sure of the Eau’s properties as a thirst quencher even though it means water in French.)
Now, fortunately for me, I don’t live in one of those 3000 villages but in Mysore – a city that is flanked by not one but two rivers – the Cauvery and the Kabini.
So, obviously we don’t have a water problem, right.
Let me answer your question like this.
As of this Saturday, we get water once in every 2 days. And we live in one of the “righter” side of the Cauvery areas – not posh, but getting there. Now, the critical word in that statement is “day” – which can be a tad misleading because most POTS will assume that “day” means what is also called “waking hours”, stretching from about 6.30 am to 11.30 pm. (Those were my waking hours.)
For the Water department of MCC (which does not stand for the Marleyborne Cricket Club but the Mysore Municipal Corporation), “day” begins roughly around 3 am and ends at around 6.30 am. I know. You’re thinking that’s only 4 hours. Well, these are difficult times you know and everything is rationed. Water. Daylight hours.
So now, I have turned into a water POTS, sleeping deeply by “day” and napping fitfully at night, leaping up at the faintest sound of drip-gurgle-goosh-drip-gurgle-goosh-goosh-goosh (the sweetest sound in the world), so that I can hunt water in the stealth of the dark, trap a few bottles to drink, prowl and prey on a few buckets to cook and bathe with.
And so, my day begins at 3.30 am…
But only on alternate days, I must add and marvel at the thoughtfulness of the MCC. Because on the days when there is no water, I get to slumber on, nary a care in the world, not a drip-gurgle-goosh-drip-gurgle-goosh-goosh-goosh to disturb my sleep.
Now if this sounds like I am cribbing, I’m not. I am just counting my blessings, because you see, we are the very, very fortunate ones. There are places not so far away from here where water comes only once a week, maybe even once in ten days….And places where they may not even know when the water will come and all they can do is call the 24/7 control room to repair the water pump to pump the water that isn’t really there…
I have devised ingenious methods of conserving water – nothing that will fill the KRS, mind you, but gargle 3 times after brushing my teeth instead of the usual 6 and have perfected the art of bathing with ¾ of a bucket of water. (Not that difficult if you concentrate and pour right) We choose the lunch menu based on what takes the least amount of water to cook with and clean up later and we aren’t encouraging guests.
Don’t laugh. If shutting off a tap that drips 10 drops of water in a minute can save 270 gallons a year, my cutting my morning gargle by 50% should amount to something, is it not?
And in the 2 inches of brackish water that sloshes around in my water-deprived brain, more Naïve Foolish Questions bob around like so much jetsam…
Last night, I was reading William Dalrymple’s book, “The Age of the Kali”. Pages 165 to 173 are devoted to Bangalore and I quote: “ The government of Karnataka, which has proved itself adept at attracting foreign investment, soon showed itself to be wholly unable to cope with the massive expansion that it was able to generate. Suddenly there was never enough electricity….it was the same with water, which was usually available in taps for less than an hour a day…” The book was written in 1998. Nine years later, the morning news says “40% of Bangalore are getting water once in 3 days”. When will we ever learn?
What is it like to have a 2 month old baby, not be able to afford disposable diapers and manage to have clean nappies using water that arrives once in 3 days for 4 hours?
Why is it that we always wake up to a water crisis when the “water level in the KRS is 12 feet lower than it was at the same time last year”? Shouldn’t alarm bells start ringing much earlier? When the water is 3 feet lower, maybe?
Don’t the Municipal authorities know how to do simple math? I mean, how difficult is it to match the amount of water needed by a city with the amount of water available in the reservoir? By how many feet does the level of water in the KRS have to be lower than it was last year before this happens?
Why is water – or any other civic issue for that matter – always only a problem for the authorities to solve? How come in all the caterwauling and screaming about the incompetence of the authorities to manage the “water situation”, there is not a single drop of a suggestion from “concerned citizens’ groups” about we can do to help? For example, in Mysore, most people live in independent houses and wash their compounds every single morning, often with the tap running constantly. How come we aren’t rallying together to tell the MCC that we will was our compounds only once every 3 days until the water problem abates?
All over Mysore – and I am sure it is the same in Bangalore – buildings of all kinds are continuously under construction. If there is such a water crisis, where are these builders getting their water from? Or are they simply using cola (or Eau de Cologne) to mix the cement…
How many gallons of water would you need to run a hotel with 200 rooms, 4 fancy restaurants and clientele who are paying upwards of 5000 rupees a night as tariff? Of the millions of gallons of water being pumped out to a city every day, a fair number must be going to hotels. So how about the hotel industry in Bangalore chipping in and announcing that for one day of the week for the next two months, the hotels remain closed in order to do their bit for water conservation?
And here is my final Naïve Foolish Question….
What if the monsoons fail this year?

12 thoughts on “And so my day begins at 3.30 am …

  1. Bangalore seems to be a model of the fate of the planet in microcosm..
    30 /40 years ago the climate, I swear, was different, as old Bangaloreans will attest – misty mornings (frost, even ?) , almost English weather – heavy industrialisation has literally changed its local climate forever, it would seem -less rainfall, less water available – does B/lore have reservoirs ?

  2. what if the monsoons fail this year?
    Monsoon never fails… we fail… when are we going to correct ourself?
    Urban problems are man made… Global Warming is a man made problem…every one wants to get cramped in Big cities because there are SO CALLED opportunities…
    what made us think that this is the life? what is this weird conditioning that having certain kind of life style means leading a successful life?
    the most important thing is to correct the education system!… but who will correct it… those who develop the education model are themselves victims of the rat race…
    there is no solution … every one wants to have well furnished flats, ac offices, coke and pepsi and pizza, every one wants to go to pub and discos and multiplexes… every one wants to wear latest fashion clothes…
    every one wants CITY LIFE… and city life is FAST… moral and ethical structure of cities is not based on simple human values…it is based on FAST GROWTH AND BIG BUCKS!
    problems will become severe in coming years…
    at the end every one has the natural right to make his or her own decisions…

  3. Let me first begin by apologising. Because I am not about to use this comment box correctly.
    Coming to the point. I’d like to tell you that I am a filmmaker. Been working in this business for about a decade. I just made my first movie.
    Its called confessions of a filmmaker. Its releasing on the internet (no one would buy it, its not, what you might call politically correct), so yes its out this 15th of June. Please take the time to watch it, if you can,on this url:
    I apologise again….
    But I had to let me favorite filmmaker, know I have finally made a movie.

  4. Some wise soul in space is likely looking at this speck in galaxy called Earth, blessed with abundance of a life-sustaining element, WATER. And likely laughing at the foolishness of its inhabitants and their inability to channel it judiciously – be it due to procrastination or political agendas or myriad other undefinable aberrations.
    Melting glaciers and rising sea levels, yet not a drop to drink for many – what an irony!

  5. Hi Shekhar,
    Saw the premiere of your short-film, “Global Cool” during the IIFA Awards at Yorkshire. Since it wasn’t clear from what I saw, I have a couple of questions:
    1. Did you write & direct that short-film?
    2. What we saw at the IIFA event……was it the complete film or is there more to come?

  6. Dear Mr Kapoor,
    1. We met about a decade back on the flight from Mumbai to Delhi. I was posted in Army Headquarters and was moving out to join my unit in Doda (J&K). We spoke on various issues covering the DU and on the problems of Militancy and how violence in the society impedes the progress of a State, erodes its culture but cannot destroy the element of faith. We concluded our in-flight impromptu meeting on the note that each man to his job is better than blaming the monolith of insufficiency that surrounds us in many ways, which we loosely label it as a SYSTEM.
    2. Years latter, I have endeavoured to understand various facets of violence that has risen through the entire spectrum of conflict (war) and how creative thinking has the power to the tilt the balance necessary to address the SYSTEM. Though, through this journey of mine many known faces have vanished in the line of duty and now in the hindsight, I think, I understand the word ‘conflict’ in a different way now which is more civilian oriented than its military understanding!
    3. In 2005, I was fortunate to work with ‘Rang de Basanti’ (RDB) Team for about four months. Though, the euphoria to work with the best star cast gradually receded in a few weeks, this experience perhaps brought me closer to your profession. Now I look at cinema in a different way and I do realise the depth of the technical parameters and importance attached to the pre-production research work to augment the reach of the cinema. The experience has also grown my own quest for creative acumen that has lingered on my mind since my first brush with cinema and has inspired me to reach the masses with meaningful ideas and concepts. I have written three short stories and one long story and have converted the short stories into a screenplay with some generous help of my colleagues (an Assistant Director of RBD and an renowned Executive Director from the Industry) . The subjects dealt by the stories are enunciated below for the favour of your perusal:
    a) The Himalayan Bouquet. A story of two young officers who meet on the course of duty on the icy heights of the Siachen glacier as they explore the dizzy heights and coin a mission with co-incidental judgement of the scenario. They both possess what it takes to give and take life on a single word of command since they both believe in the convictions and traditions of their respective and famous regiments of the Indian and Pakistan Army.
    Charged with the fervour of patriotism and duty unto death, their journey traverses through four stages, first- hatred, second – suspicion, third – friendship and fourth- respect in a rapidly changing circumstances. They live through these stages in the sub-zero environment questioning the other man’s conviction and vehemently disagreeing on most of the issues but whenever it came to the beauties that besieges Bollywood, they both agree like lost brothers.
    The story is punctuated with hard core geo-political and geo-strategic compulsions, nerve shattering and edge of the seat excitement that only a devil can provide, staunch ideologies that are ingrained on young minds through military training and a demeanour that only allows brute force and astute leadership to rule the roost. If you feel that all this will make it too gory then let me assure you that the script is also interspersed with supple humour specially when the story reaches stage two, three and four. As the name suggests the film ends on the best note of military diplomacy.
    I wonder if it will be a landmark of its sort if someone can shoot at minus 45 degrees to capture the real picture of the world’s highest battlefield and that too by a combination of ground and aerial unit for co-ordinated photography and direction. The length of the film is expected to be 45 to 60 minutes with 35 scenes.
    b) Mallet. An intertwined story of a beautiful illiterate pregnant young widow who is constantly trying to save her honour from those very men who openly proclaim in the eyes of the society by calling the widow as part and parcel of their clan and vouch to protect her at any cost. The same men descent on her and try to nail her down as the night falls. Her fate is more appalling than that of an old destitute who lives on the outer fringes of the same village and despite being insane has the ability to see the future. Back to the young woman, who continues to fight till the edge of her life and never gives it up. In a chance encounter, her life changes as a young girl gives her a scarp book containing photographs of Kalpana Chawala on her space mission. The film now travels to and fro in the space and in the rustic surrounding where the young woman is coerced to abort her unborn child.
    We show the agony of rampant practice of female foeticide that has perforated the same society where the women are worshipped or their deeds are acclaimed when a woman of Indian origin ventures into the space but the reality lies in many homes where a woman fights a lone battle. Cinematographically, the film demands seamless entry and exit as we connect the lives of these women and we find courage and determination as the thread that weaves through the fabric of our society. The real magic lies in weaving two intangible ends with a hard-hitting story. The Story ends when Kalpana is born again! The length of the movie is expected to be 25 minutes with 18 scenes.
    c) Nine Eleven or Bleed or Derelict . The film is intended to open from a famous New York square where many Hollywood celebrities, Sports stars and Personalities from the political world assemble to voice their concern on the war in Iraq and demonstrate against the war in a run up for the US elections in the year 2008. We douse their voices of fervent protest by technical brilliance and rise to glide over the city and then into the stratosphere-mesosphere-ionosphere and beyond. As if the world is not enough………! or to remind the audiences of the philosophy of‘one world …one people!!
    As we descent, we quickly move to see the ability of the man as the supreme destroyer and this intended film of just nine minutes and eleven seconds now goes past the full spectrum of war on IRAQ in all the dimensions ( air, surface and water) till it reaches the doorsteps of a young 11 years old girl as she lies trapped in the war zone in an unending desert.
    She questions the act of war by travelling in and out her memory lane and tries to salvage her belongings ( a school bag and a doll since both these items have great significance in the story) from the rubble. In her quest for peace, she has a close encounter with a few dead US soldiers and suddenly this incident charges her frail body and she discovers a mission of her lifetime. In an emotional surge she gets very close to avenge the death and destruction caused by the war and wants to score a victory over her perceived enemy. But soon sanity and clam returns to her and she changes her mission and allows knowledge and wisdom to prevail in the most testing time. ( How and why is centre of gravity of the story)
    A silent film till the midway, it suddenly comes live with a ‘no-war ‘song that is proposed to be recorded with live audience and the lyrics can go as …it’s a beautiful day ..take the war away..’ . As the song travels through the streets of some well-known cities/destination around the world, more and more real life celebrities and amateur artists join in. Proposed to be sung in many international languages, the song will remind people of a world song of the yesteryears … ‘we are the world …we are the people’. Throughout the song, we fill in more visuals that will bind the story since the duration is very small. At the end, a reining miss universe comes on the screen to question the act of war. She leaves us with self-defining thoughts without being judgmental. Two white lights fill the screen rising from ground zero in the backdrop of the great Manhattan skyline that looks brilliant as dusk caves in.
    3. I an aware that you have a busy schedule and you have too much on your hand but that is also where I feel that you have the wherewithal by the grace of God to make things happen. With best wishes to you in your untiring journey and I hope I can join you in some manner. This time may be on a professional note. God willing and God speed.
    Jai Hind
    With profound regards
    Colonel Ajay Sharma

  7. Now that u have done so much of so much and yet not so much, why dont u stand up for a position in your state to make at least one place that you can handle a better place to be, to lead others to follow?
    Just a thought, though I do have no rights to suggest you.
    If handling such simple statistics is such a major issue for these people why not take the reign in your hands…honestly.

  8. Dear Shekhar
    I read your interview in the Financial Times this weekend and realised you were planning to make a film called Paani. Now browsing through your blog, I find you’ve been thinking about the subject for some time.
    I am one of the co-authors of the Human Development Report 2006 on water, titled ‘Beyond Scarcity: Power, poverty and the global water crisis’. The Human Development Report, a leading development policy document, is published annually by the United Nations Development Programme. The HDR on water can be found here:
    As part of my advocacy efforts on water, I hosted an MTV documentary along with the rapper, Jay-Z. The documentary titled ‘Diary of Jay-Z: Water for Life’ premiered on 16 November 2006 in New York. It was filmed in an urban slum in Luanda, Angola and in rural Kwa-Zulu Natal in South Africa. The documentary, which is now in the process of becoming a teaching aid in 80,000 schools in the United States, can be viewed under the videos tab here: The website accompanying it was recognised as an Official Honoree at the 11th Webby Awards:
    I read your blog on water wars and appreciate your concern for the inequities that underlie access to water. I spoke on the subject in August 2006 in Stockholm at the World Water Week, then at IIM-Bangalore in November. I also presented at the Indian Parliament and addressed the State Assembly in Hyderabad in December 2006, on the subject of ‘Water for Life and Water for Livelihoods’.
    As my chapter in the HDR (chapter 5) shows, the prospect of a ‘war’ over water, in the traditional sense between countries, is not that likely. Instead, the focus ought to be on the daily livelihood insecurities that people in shared water basins face and the tensions that arise as a result. This could be in South Asia (Ganga and Brahmaputra), South East Asia (Mekong), Central Asia (Amu and Syr Darya, and Aral Sea), Middle East (Tigris and Euphrates, the West Bank and Gaza), southern Africa (Zambezi), west Africa (Lake Chad) or Latin America (Lake Titicaca). But as much as they are a source of tension, there are also opportunities for and examples of cooperation. Within countries, tensions over water have less to do with the physical water availability and more with its management and the need to address inequalities (of gender, caste, financial resources, and political power).
    Here is an op-ed I had written for the Indian Express on inequality and water 🙁’ and a couple of articles quoting me on water wars:;
    I have now left the United Nations after spending three and a half years there (lately as Policy Specialist), and am now pursuing my PhD at Oxford. I would be interested to see how your project develops, and of course am happy to discuss the subject with you further. You can contact me at:
    Best wishes and good luck for your project.

  9. Our M/s KISSAN BHALIE AND ADVISORY SOCIETY is working with a Mission ‘SAVE WATER ,SAVE SOIL’.For this Society is running a agri based monthly punjabi magazine ADVISOR since 31months.In Feb 2008 ,Society is also going to launch a unique ADVISOR FARMER’S DIRECTORY.We are very happy thay Mr. Shekhar like man come forward to make a film on ‘Panni’. we would like to in touch with you for this Project . You can contact us by
    Jharmal Singh
    98880 17080

  10. dear shekhar..maine apni hi zindagi pe ek kahani likhi hai..jis ke diolog aur gazals likhi hai..mujhe bohat ummidein hai ke zarur hit hogi…dailog( mai un motiyon ki tarah bikhar gaya hu jo ek hote hai to shaan detey hai) hi mera hai nagma .tu hi jaise ke kalma .mere sajdon ka hasil. tu duaawon me shamil. janeman bus meri bandagani hai tu.bandagi bandagi bandagani hai tu.ha meri janejaa ek kahani hai tu..zindagi….kahani..ek apahij ladki aur do biwiyon ke beech kahani hai..heart touch movie hai..naachiz ek mauka chahta hai sahab..aap ke jawab ka muntazir..majid..cell no.0738397864..cape town..

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