Life over a bucket of water...

Kids today will probably find it amusing to think that, at one point in time, we used to queue up at nearing midnight, to catch a bucket of water!

I remember the days when the water-tanker carrying 'clean, corporation water' would loudly sound its Horn at 9 p.m. on certain weekdays. Tired grown-ups from every apartment/house on the street, would drop their work on hand. The ensuing hour would be a flurry of activity. They would scurry to find every hole-less bucket (with an unbroken handle), tag their kids along (or send them as emissaries) - to ‘reserve’ a spot in the serpentine queue!

The thing is, we lived very close to the Marina beach. Our ground water was extremely salty. While that was great to keep our teeth sparkling white ;-), it wasn’t much use for anything else! And even that water used to be quite scarce. So yes, we would hanker over those buckets of ‘corporation purified water like they were pots of gold!

While it was a pain in the wrong place to be waiting in a serpentine queue on a hot and sultry summer night (instead of staying cosy at home, watching the boring News channel or (if we got lucky) Chitrahaar), it also used to prove to be an hour of excitement!
Especially for us ‘apartment-residents’, this 'water-catching-time' (for want of a better description!) had turned into an informal get-together of sorts. Of course, what is a get-together without the usual gossip? Gossip about old residents where one spouse was supposedly having an affair. Gossip about a new resident, whose apartment had late-night visitors! Gossip about a relatively poor family suddenly buying a new car! You get the drift? Politics and juicy bits of gossip, in general!

As you might have guessed, in those days, we did not have Facebook. Computers had just about been introduced in schools, and obtaining a scratched 'Floppy Disk' was considered a lifetime achievement!!! To confess, everybody was quite curious to see the new Hot Male (hotmail) in town.

So, quite a lot of our social interaction (if you could call it that) happened over a bucket of water.
We would ‘write’ on each other’s wall, by waving or saying ‘Hello’! The nicest part about living in India, is that everybody automatically becomes your ‘Aunty’ or ‘Uncle’. So we would wave hello to every ‘good’ aunty or uncle we knew. The ‘bad’ ones would be avoided!

We would ‘poke’ each other by a little tap on the shoulder or a slap on the back. Sometimes, even a tug at neatly oiled pigtails :-)

All those ‘fraanship requasts’ that we see from random strangers and ‘wannabe fraands’. Those would operate very subtly. Teenagers high on testosterone would eagerly try to befriend other teenage girls in the apartment, being careful to avoid the watchful eyes of parents and nosey neighbours!!
Hey! Let’s not underestimate these sorts of ‘fraanship requasts’, as many of these actually resulted in the ‘friends’ being ‘married happily ever after’! The children of those teenagers now visit the same apartments during their summer vacation. Just that these days, there is no water tanker to fill the place with excitement!

To be fair, there was a bit of ‘spamming’ too. The one or two rotten apples (notorious folks) would try to chat up the women. Smooth flirts would get away with it, but others only made themselves seem obnoxious, and would end up in a situation of ‘report abuse’!

Needless to say, the most interesting part of such an 'event' was the outbreak of a street fight. Man!!! Those of you who have never faced water shortage or never queued up for water have seriously missed something in life.

All it needed was a bucket moved an inch to the wrong side of the queue. Followed by a stray comment, about people being irresponsible or egoistic. Immediately responded to with an angry 'Hey! Mind your tongue'. And voila! A fantastic street-fight in the making!!

Friends/neighbours/family of the 'warring factions' would take sides, and we would get about 10 precious minutes of total entertainment. Replete with the choicest of abuses. interesting gossip that was not meant to be shared (but what everybody rumoured about). If we got lucky, sometimes even a fist-fight or two.

During which time, the 'smart’ ones would cunningly move up the queue, fill their share of buckets and march back home with a smug expression! Ha! What did they know what a lot of entertainment they had missed!!!

But you know what? Once the parties settled down, they would resume filling their buckets of water. And all would be quickly forgotten. Not necessarily forgiven. But certainly forgotten ;-)

We simply have to give it to them. The ones who fight, I mean. After engaging in a fight that night, they would wake up the next morning fresh and sprightly, having forgotten WHY they fought, and who all landed a punch to each other! They sometimes even waved each other ‘good-bye’ before setting off to work. Sweet, no?

So that was that. Social interaction over a bucket of water.

If you asked me, I'd say that was any day more exciting than the insipid 'likes and pokes' of Facebook.

An Article byPallavi who blogs atWriter-z-Block

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