Sunday, 17 August 2014


Living in India often makes me appreciate things I took for granted in the United States.  Tap water is one of them.  Turn on the water tap and clean water flows.  This is not necessarily so in India.

India has a water crisis.  Most of India’s lakes, rivers and ground water are contaminated. There are many causes: poor infrastructure, unregulated industry, unmanaged garbage and untreated sewage. More than one half of Indian households have no toilets. Water scarcity is another problem. This is cause by poor water management and a burgeoning population.

Patna.  Sadly this is not an exception

One would not expect to have to order a tanker of water in the middle of the monsoon.  However, it turns out in our neighbourhood a heavy rain causes sand to build up in the water pipes.  When this happens the water is simply shut off and the sand settles.  In a few days it is turned on again.  If we are lucky, we have enough water in our water storage tank that is below our house and will not have to order a water tanker.  This storage tank supplies our cottage and three others.  Last year this was not a problem. We were the only continuously occupied cottage.  This year the cottage above us was turned into a construction shack and home for the dozen or so construction workers.  Needless to say they go through the water faster than we do.  Whoever is more desperate for water orders and pays for the tanker.  If we wind up paying, we deduct the cost from our monthly rent.  Occasionally there is a dispute in the neighbourhood.  Someone will block the water supply line for spite.  Usually it doesn't take long to figure out where the blockage is and fix it.  The supply line is also located near the road and is not buried in places.  It often breaks when heavy trucks or buses run over it.

This water tanker is pumping water into our water storage tank below our cottage.  From there it is pumped up into the smaller black water storage tanks on the roof.  The pipes on the road behind the tanker are water supply lines.

This hose is feeding water from the tanker into the large storage tank below our cottage.

Large water storage tank located below our cottage.

Every morning we turn on the water pump to pump the water stored below up into the smaller storage tank on the roof. We know the roof tank is full when we hear the water overflowing.  This is difficult to hear during a hard rain.  Water is wasted when our neighbours or we forget to turn  the pump off.  We use this water for all of our water needs.  Monkeys often remove the cover from this tank.  I hate to think about how filthy the water could become.  Bird and monkey poop come to mind.  We boil then filter water used for cooking and drinking.   Ram had the lid replaced and wired shut.

Friday, 8 August 2014



One of the first things we did after we settled in this area was to hire domestic help.  Kamla was the first.  After hearing about our family’s difficulties with domestic help and according to blogs I've read, I was lucky to find Kamila.  She worked well with little supervision and always had a smile and laughed a lot.  Months later she changed.  She became argumentative and somewhat difficult.  She also looked like she did not feel well.  We sent her to our Doctor.  It turned out she was pregnant.  The Doctor told her she could not do heavy work and walking over the mountain to work was not advised.  We had to let her go.  That is when we hired Madhu.

Recently, Ram happened to see Kamla during one of his morning walks.  She wanted to come back to work with us.  Ram explained we already had Madhu working for us.  A couple of weeks later Kamla came to see me.  She again asked to come back to work.  She almost cried when I told her it was not possible.  Madhu is working for us.  She left.  I almost cried.  I could tell she really needed the work.  I felt I could not fire Madhu without good reason.

 Not long after Kamla’s visit, Madhu had more and more family emergencies.  She was gone more than she was here.  One day Madhu told me she had to go to Haldwani to see her brother and would not come to work the next day.  She did not call or show up for three days.  She did not answer her phone.  When she did finally show up we fired her.  Because of Kamla’s previous argumentative ways we were hesitant to have her work for us again.  We decided to give it a try.   Kamla came back the same day we let Madhu go!

Kamla’s story has slowly come out.  She has been through a lot.  She had emergency neuro surgery.  It started with a head ache that became worse and worse.  From what she and her husband have said it sounds like she had a brain tumor removed.  That could also account for her personality change that we saw last year.  She also lost her baby.  The doctors told her husband she had a one percent chance to survive.  Everyone was trying to prepare for the worst.  She spent twenty four days in the ICU.  The surgery cost one lakh or $1667.00 USD.  That is a lot of money here.  Her entire village rallied around her.  Not only did they manage to raise the money but they cared for her three children so her husband could be with her.  Kamla told me that she prayed that she could come back to work for us.  To be an answer to ones prayer tugs at my hart and seems like an awesome responsibility.

Kamla’s sweet smiling personality is back.  It seems difficult for her to multitask.  It takes her longer to do household tasks.  I don’t care.  I am glad to have her back.