Hyderabad has been reeling under a water crisis for a while now. In fact, water has been a recurring problem in Telangana.
Much of the Telangana struggle pertained to water, and not as people in Andhra like to believe, because KCR is an egomaniac, or that his nose is so large, he can smell What the Rock is Cooking.
At one point, it is said that the city had over 3000 lakes, all maintained by the Nizam who had so much swag (and wealth) that he got a Rolls Royce just to sweep the roads of Hyderabad.
But since then, we have had apartment complexes springing up with ‘Lake View’ rooms, which is a polished way of saying ‘We encroached the fuck out of the lake’. The lack of urban planning has resulted in lakes going dry, stale, or senile. And we have begun to feel the pinch of our forefathers’ sins (Well not mine, technically. My forefathers were smoking beedis in Orissa and chilling out. Till the Super Cyclone came, at least!).
But as Hyderabad grapples with the water crisis, there are a few ways that common men like me have to pay the price. Like the Water Regulation rule in our hostel.
The University of Hyderabad (if I haven’t advertised it enough in my blogs already) is a large, sprawling campus that has three lakes within its boundaries. There are water tanks, reservoirs, and pump houses at such regular intervals that if you zoom out on Google Earth, it looks like a map on Age of Empires.
But this year, the administration decided to take matters into their own hands. Which meant they’d switch off the water in our hostels. December is Holidays’ time, so the kids – Bachelors, Masters students – have left for their homes.
Which leaves us guys – the MPhils and PhDs, the zombies of academia – loitering about the corridors searching for water every morning.
Now, my opinion of bathrooms in government hostels is no secret, really. I have written about it umpteen times, and if Swachh Bhaarat truly needs a place to begin its Phase 2, they need to look at the bathrooms in government hostels.
As it is, they are not in the best shape.
Sometimes, there is a tap running in a bathroom, like a depressed damsel in distress, crying for her lover, as the tap moans painfully, giving an aching friend a shoulder to cry on.
The mirrors are all cracked at least three places, so when you go to shave in the morning, you end up asking yourself existential questions like – ‘Who am I? What is the purpose of life?’
Some bathrooms are so old, you can still see ‘Aurangzeb loves Reshma’ etched on the walls. Some of the hostels have those olden style flushes – a large metal box hanging precariously over your head. The flush is a rusty metal chain that you never pull, for fear of having it the entire apparatus over your head.
Then there are the boilers – relics of Neanderthal man’s conquest over nature – just large, bubbling cylinders that look like props on a Mithun Chakroborty film, ready to explode any minute. There are bathroom doors that have no latches on them. Meaning you have to walk in and trust humanity to suppress its native curiosity. Or hang your towel on the door and sing songs constantly, hoping nobody pushes open the door to ask for your autograph!
I am an early riser.
I am up by 7 every morning. Then I check Facebook for a bit, go through the news on my phone, and set out to roll the Morning Joint.
I am a strong advocate of the Morning Joint. (Read my blog on it here). It helps you appreciate the beauty of sunrise. While others are struggling to begin their day on the right foot, you get wings to start things off.
But just when I am done, and decide to get on with life’s mundane necessities, I realise how traumatic it can be.
The authorities did their bit, by putting up a poster on the notice board. Like Venkatpathy Raju in the Indian cricket team, the poster is overshadowed by food delivery brochures, political pamphlets, and a notice by that guy whose jeans are missing.
Which means that at the back of your mind, you know that the water is going to run out. But you don’t smoke the Morning Joint and think about taps and water. You think about the world, and life, and how beautiful the butterfly that’s sitting on your table looks.
So I’m in for a shock every single morning.
And with me, are other co-sufferers.
There’s that one guy humming a tune because he’s stuck in the toilet without water, and he’s given up. There’s that guy with shaving foam all over his face, just banging into things and cursing like Captain Haddock.
The corridors – once bustling with conversations and music – are empty and deserted, save for a few PhD zombies with that glazed 4thYearMeinHoonWattLagRahiHai expression in their eyes.
Standing there with my mug, which has a toothbrush, soap, and shampoo, I am catapulted back to reality. I run back to my room, looking frantically for any traces of water.
Only to realise I had luxuriously poured myself a peg of Hercules Rum. I look around, and find an old Thums Up bottle, half filled with old water. I pick it up, thank Lord Shiva, and rush to the bathrooms again like a madman.
I pour off a few drops on my toothbrush, and brush my teeth slowly and carefully. On the outside, inside and chewing surface of each tooth, using short back-and-forth strokes. Using as little water as I can, I wash my mouth, and get ready to wash my face (It’s winter, I’m not going to have bath. Fuck off!).
Every morning in the last month has taught me the value of teachings I was taught in school.
Like, Boond boond se saagar banta hai.
I thought that was something Hindi teachers mumbled every few minutes as they were generally senile. But I see the point now.
I close my eyes and spread the soap on my face, rubbing gently from the inside to the outside in a circular motion, as it says in WikiHow. When I am done, I gently pat my face with a towel, and get the fuck out of there.
May be this is what the future of humanity is going to be.
Running around with a bottle of water, thinking fondly of the days when Sridevi seduced Amitabh Bachchan in a swimming pool. Just two people, and all that water to themselves.
May be this is how the world is going to end.
Just all of us singing Raag Malhaar in a toilet, hoping there will be some water.
I come back to the room and half the joint is still left. I sit down on the bed, and all is well with the world again.