Growing up in the town of Dombivli, we used to live in a very small two room apartment called Chatre Chawl on Ayre road. There, each household had one tap as a water source, and communal toilets and bathrooms. Water came through the pipes once a day, in the morning, starting at 4AM, and lasted only until 7AM. Being that our home was at the end of the building, our tap would start dripping after every one else in the building had their fill of the water. So, Mom would wake up early and fill all the vessels she could. Buckets, Gourds, Matkis, even large vessels called Bhagonas would be filled with water. Afterall water had to last the entire 24 hour period! After all the vessels had been filled, she would wake us up one by one so that we could finish our ablutions before the tap ran dry.
This was the ritual I grew up with and 24 hour water supply - well the thought of that never entered my mind at the time.
Things changed a bit when my family saved up enough money to move to a three room flat. There, the building planners, anticipating the water needs of the residents, planned to put two tanks, one at the bottom of the building which would continue to fill up the entire day, and another at the top of the building. Water would be pumped twice a day from the bottom tank to the top tank so that residents could have the water accessible 24 hours a day! 24 hours! When we moved to this new home I thought that was a luxury I could never live without!
While there were many like us who progressed on to live in homes with central tank water supply, there are millions of others who do not have such a luxury. For them it seems, things have gotten worse. When I go to India now, driving around it is not an uncommon site to see a water tanker with a line of people standing with empty buckets patiently waiting for their turn. Soumini Sengupta has articulated the large dimensions of this water crisis in a series of three articles for NY Times about the looming water crisis in India two of which have been just published. Here is the link to the first article...
Water crisis - Part 1