Wednesday, June 08, 2011

A Drop of Water !

It was 6 in the morning, on a wintry Bangalore day. I was on my irregular morning walk, through the narrow streets of Benniganahalli, off Old Madras Road. As I moved past the government residential quarters in nearby CV Raman Nagar, I saw the water tank overflow and spill over into the street below. I walked on.

6:45 am. I was on my return. Passing the quarters again, I looked up and was aghast to see the tank still overflowing. I wanted to stop it. There were two guards near the gate and I approached them. They did listen to my concern and said they would look for the person responsible, to stop the pump. That was as much as I could go. I did not belong to that residential colony.

For many people, water is an infinite resource, that can be used lavishly. There is a lot of effort behind each drop of water; as you can see from the hydrological cycle (see figure below).
In addition to this, there are processes of absorption and transpiration in trees and plants, and the movement of running water as it percolates through the ground strata to meet ground water reserves. All these are processes that happen before each drop of pure water falls from the clouds.

But isn't water an inanimate object, formed by an automatic natural process, and can't we use it as we like ? The best and most vital things in life are all free-air, water, and the earth we stand on. We human beings are also a part of nature. Nature is not complete without us. We cannot stand apart from it, and are subject to the forces of nature like all other creatures. The recent Tsunamis and earthquakes are reminders of man's punitive stature before the stupendous forces of nature.

Great scientists like Isaac Newton have recognized this. He famously said: I am just like a small child playing with a few grains of sand on the infinite seashore. He knew what he had discovered about natural laws was just a very tiny part of the real thing.

If we can accept our stand relative to the grand Cosmos, it will be easy to be humble. A humble mind will always think twice before spending any resource.

How to conserve Water
There are many ways in which we can conserve water. For instance, dish-washing after kneading dough at home. We knead the dough in a bowl. Afterwards, if we keep it aside without washing off immediately, the dough sticking to the vessel dries up and is harder to remove. Then you need to fill the vessel to the brim with water and let it soak, to clean. If you had cleaned it out while still fresh, you could have saved at least 3 liters of water, for an average bowl.

Mighty Water
Here is a real story from Japan showing what potential a drop of water has! Tetsui was the disciple of a Zen master. He performed various chores as part of his responsibilities at his monastery. They involved watering the garden. One day, after finishing watering, he saw that there was a little water at the bottom of the bucket. He upturned the bucket and emptied it on the ground. Unseen by him, the master of the monastery who had been watching him all along, shouted: How dare you waste that water!

Tetsui's mind opened inwards and he experienced the truth. It was after this incident that he came to be known as Tetsui. It means ‘a drop of water.’

(Image courtesy: Wikipedia)

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