In the much-hyped world that we live in, we often miss everyday, commonplace joys. Our hashtags are reserved for the life-changing, the earth-shattering, the path-breaking.
But taking a hot shower is no less of a modern miracle.
This everyday chore often gets side-stepped on the path to larger things in life. But not too long ago, it would have been inconceivable for you to be taking a hot shower at the time of your choice.
There is just enough time.
Just enough time to smoke a joint, and switch on the geyser. And as you launch into your thought pool of the day, the water is getting heated up. Just as you near the last few puffs of the joint, you cough the TB cough, and step into the shower.
Into a luxury that you are probably the first generation to enjoy in your youth, in our long history of 2000/3000/5000 years (subject to your education, political inclination and patriotism).
It must be noted here that it is ‘showers’ that I will be harping on about, and not a
- ‘bath’ in a tub (for you certainly aren’t the first generation hot-bath consumer)
- a tap-bucket-mug (you have a certain climbing up in life to do, my friend).
The tap-bucket-mug method is too tedious and demands a lot of coordination to execute. Profound thoughts do not come visiting when you’re busy trying not to slip on soap. And I haven’t ever enjoyed a bath. When I am put up at luxurious hotels when I travel for shows, I don’t really know what to do in the tub. My only references are Bollywood villains, or vamps who seduce heroes. Since none of those options are available to me, I sit like an awkward Vishnu on an uncomfortable Sheshnaag.
This article is mostly about taking a shower. The kind with a working geyser (hence the term ‘hot shower’ in the title). The fact that a shower can be had is in itself a modern luxury. If we travel back in time as early as two generations ago, to the time of our grandfathers-
They needed to wake up and bathe in the mornings. There was no hot water, no shower; and in my village in Balasore, he would have to go to the village pond. I have seen it, and let’s just say there is no san-sanananana happening there. My grandfather could not skip it and stay in bed, as he did not want any adulting that day. #Adulting #DontWant
You go to the pond or river and perform your morning ablutions, well aware that you could slip and vanish forever. Then there are crocodiles and snakes to be watchful of. And if you evade all of that, there are still human beings that you need to take a bath with. Neighbours, uncles and relatives, since bathing was more social ritual than hygiene chore.
And why only take the male perspective? What about women? What if you were your ancestor – a noble, law-abiding lady about 500 years ago?
You needed to get to a waterfall or water body before the sun rose. If you lived in a rural area, it must be a headache. For you needed to carry water back with you too! Imagine taking a shower and coming back with two buckets of water, that you needed to carry to your office and manage the entire day with!
And if you lived in an urban area, it did not make your life any easier. You had to find your way to a public bath, or go with the women in your friends circle/family. Which meant you problems were not only with animals, but humans too! I don’t believe in the glorification that our past was all vedas and sunshine and nobility. There must have been creeps to deal with. You might live in the greatest civilisation of all time, but had no control over the time and place of your bath.
Or what if we went deeper into our past, say a 1000 years ago?
1018 was the year when the first Islamic invader – Mahmud Ghazni – entered India. We were still a civilisation that ranked low in the Maslow’s hierarchy of need theory.
If you managed to survive the ongoing wars, you still needed to rush to a water body. And it wasn’t exclusive to you, you had to share it with animals of the jungle too. Deers and tigers and wild boars and crocodiles. And goddamn bears! Bears who roamed the jungle and discovered that you had stolen their honey.
Honey they had discovered and nurtured, only to find that you and your soldier friends burnt a hole in its dreams, partied overnight, and left. And just as you were having a bath by yourself, the bear would ambush you and insert its paw deep in your posterior.
It was a dangerous time. A risky time.
Taking shower is a luxury that we have taken for granted.
This magic cubicle that you enter, and come out a calmer, better looking version of yourself. A space that nobody else can intrude upon; not your family, friends, not Mark Zuckerberg.
A place where tiny plastic bottles contain specially formulated oils and liquids to make your hair shine, your skin glow. A place where you turn a knob, and thoughts come flowing down.
And why not? When you needn’t worry about tigers and bears, and Golu the neighborhood sex-offender – that’s when nobler thoughts come to us. I daresay that is when we evolve as a species.
It’s when you take a shower that you are truly with yourself. When you can think higher thoughts, when you can whip up a blog, and thousands of strangers could read your thoughts and nod in agreement.
On our path towards evolution and revolution, our efforts to be better humans, to save the planet and bring about peace and prosperity, we humans have forgotten what a luxury it is to take a hot shower.