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Water Maharaja

Photograph: Roadside vendor selling water. June 5, 2009

I was around 16 years old when I first visited Delhi. I was a tourist, even took that guided tour bus ride that takes you to all the best spots (as listed on the brochure) in 5 hours flat, lunch excluded. It was during this trip that, for the first time, I saw a man working that mini-hand pump, drawing water from an invisible tank, and filling a glass. I learnt Delhi has roadside vendors who sell water for 50p/Rs.1 a glass. I was amused.


A couple of years ago, after moving to the Capital region, one late night, I injured my fingers, broke some nails, got a sore thumb, all while tying to open the air tight seal of my first ever can of bubble top 'Bisleri'. There is no looking back. I could have fared better at the finger numbing task, but I was distracted, I kept remembering the line ' Your maternal great grandmother was born in a house that had a small brook flowing right in the front yard.' If that wasn't enough, in the background, I kept hearing that gushing sound of water, like roar of an angry tiger - only this tiger took no pause to take breath. A constant roar. I had heard the sound many summers ago when one morning mother took me with her to the village school in which she taught, every subject. I noticed that white noise, approaching, just as we were approaching a small old crude footbridge built over a stream. I looked around alarmed, but the water of the steam, now underneath me, looked calm, it was in no hurry. Where is the sound coming from? 'It's just water,' mother assured me. 'Just open the can carefully!'


A couple of years ago, a journalist friend of mine asked me if I support privatization of a precious natural resource like water. You see, I had just told him about my traumatic bubble top 'Bisleri' can experience.

How does it feel to be just a spoke in a wheel? A proper metric question found in a useless job application form that they make you fill for a useless job that nobody else wants. Blacken 0 correctly (do not cross or tick mark) next to the right answer filling it with pencil (no pen please): Great. Good. Bad. I don't know. It is a such an ironic question, in fact the entire form is filled with so much iron that later no sad faced spoke dares to actually check those perfect answers and the wheel still rolls on. (The right answer is always: Great. A machine does read the answers.

"I just don't like heavy water." That's all I could manage.



  1. I had written a post about making masala soda last yr and talked about how you'd find a lot of these push cart vendors selling water and they'd have huge stacks of limes over glasses and make you instant nimbu paani too. I trying capturing a few pictures of these guys selling water in these big tanks on my last trip back to Delhi, but mine were nowhere as good as this one-sigh memories:)

  2. The guys in the photograph were having a good 'look at the idiot ****'kind of talk while I took this pic.


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