A few years ago, Bangalore comedian Danish Sait made this really funny movie, Humble Politician Nograj. One hilarious line is when Nograj pays a visit to the poor, and kindly enquires – Enjoying the poverty-a?
Unlike Nograj’s poor, we are enjoying the discomfort of being without running water. The borewell pump suddenly gave up a week ago. (We have a really simple solar pump that pumps water to our overhead tank and to taps in various parts of the land. Perfect when it works.) And it’s Navaratri and no one will look at it till mid week next week.
So, this is where it all pays off. We’re sitting on 20,000 litres of harvested rainwater, and more coming. And we even bought a treadle pump some months ago, for just such an emergency. It cost us Rs. 3500 – not bad for an insurance cover.
Anyway, out came the amazing Ecoflo Treadle Pump, which is meant for small farmers to irrigate their crops. Luckily for us, we are having a rainy spell and the plants don’t need watering. We just need a few bucketfuls for the household.
Although it’s a little tough on old knees, it’s less than one minute of treading for a bucketful of water. We take turns and pump two or three buckets each, and that sees us through the day if we’re careful, reuse the laundry water for the flush and so on. We know one guy who stands in a bucket and pours water over himself, and then uses that bath water for the garden. We haven’t gone that far, but we’ve perfected the three-mug bath.
One hitch in this system is that our rainwater is not quite potable. Despite our best efforts, frogs and spiders get into the tank. We’d have to boil or filter it, which is a nuisance as we love drinking our delicious borewell water straight out of the tap. Fortunately, we have a little left in our overhead tank, which we hoard for drinking and cooking.
The thing about this situation is the sense of achievement which more than makes up for the trouble. I’m not saying I want to live without running water forever, of course. The novelty would soon wear off. But it’s taught us to appreciate the luxury of water on tap. And the whole rainwater thing is very exciting and addictive. Our next project is to try and grow all our vegetables and fruit on rainwater (the crops are already rainfed). It may take us a year or two to work out a system. This is going to be fun!