This morning I was finally able to speak with my Nana on the phone in the Mysore train station.  I asked her if I was to walk in your name for a cause you believe in what would my walk look like? She said she had just re-watched “An Inconvenient Truth” and chatted a little. She told me my walk would be for ecological awareness focusing on water maintenance; notice the way it is wasted, polluted and/or conserved.  She asked me to walk in the name of safe drinking water for everyone, as it something she feels every person has a right to. This led me to think about how I have used water recently…only drinking from sealed bottles, refusing the tap and chutneys in restaurants, showering in rusty hard water and stepping around it in the streets. While I watch everyone else drink from the tap and sleep next to puddles of dirty stagnant water. I remembered seeing at least 100+ people sleeping on the cement around the Bus Station in Bangaluru, a repeating pattern I’ve noticed in places along the way. I thought about what water impoverished people drink…and how much I’ve spent on clean bottles so far. It doesn’t add up, they can’t afford it. I walked around Mysore city past vendors, sleepers, animals, decaying food and gassy auto-rickshaws. I walked and I noticed the plastic bottles that lie empty on the ground here and there. With no exception, people asked for money for food. They can’t afford to eat regularly much less buy clean water.  Often times people who can’t afford clean water are women with small children, children alone, disabled or sick men, holy men and very elderly men and women. I walked and noticed how water was wasted, constantly dripping and flooding into streets. It runs in the restrooms, and shower fixtures just like in the US or anywhere people don’t turn the knob hard enough to the right. Streets are cleaned with water occasionally or restaurants empty water into the street, people wash their mouths with it and then spit it out…the water on the street can be contaminated with just about anything; human and animal fecal matter, urine, spit, blood, puss, food, drink, mosquitoes, chemicals, gasoline, gasoline, gasoline. This juxtaposed with the proliferation of advertising for clean bottled water plastered and painted on walls and billboards. I happened upon a man reading the local newspaper, and saw a headline that said something about voting and the water crisis with a picture of a drop of water. I bought a newspaper and flipped to the second page the article detailed how multiple rural communities around Bangaluru are suffering a lack of water due to political parties controlling the water supply. The parties withhold water from those who don’t vote in their favor. This is happening at a time when the monsoons are late to shower and water is crucial for survival…the article didn’t name any parties or politicians involved. a world away, Mumbai  is flooded, which seems to happen often enough to give an apathetic tone to the headline. I flipped another page. An add for a water purifier flashed a familiar quote “80% of diseases are cause due to drinking unsafe water.” It goes on to note “especially during monsoon” which I found very depressing. Monsoon season has flooded Mumbai, its approaching in Bangaluru and a month away for Chennai. I kept walking, I don’t know how to pray or if that’s what I was aiming for. I just looked at people and smiled and hoped that they weren’t sick because of the water they cooked with, and cried out inside in the name of my grandmother for nature to be kind. For Humans to realize and change the unfair water distribution globally and understand that privatization is deadly for those who cant afford clean water.

Here’s an interesting link to info about the Coca Cola co. in Kerala and how workers roiting lead to Coca Cola’s withdrawl from that particular site. (scroll up for stats)