Memories of Childhood, Sweet and salt water

Water is the most important requirement of our life. It is rightly said that thousands can live without love but not a single person can live without water. My father writes about the water conditions in the small town where he spent his childhood. This was in the 1930s and 1940s.
“Our house in Hospet was on a wide road
coming out of the Hospet Main Road at Ranipet.
Most of the houses on the right side of
this road, including ours, had wells with hard
water. We called this a ‘Uppu Neeru’ or salt
water. If you put the water in your mouth, it
was not salty, but bitter in taste. It could
be used only for bathing and cleaning the house.
Soap cannot be used with this water, as no
lather came out. we used ‘seege pudi’ or
Bengal-gram powder, while bathing.

On our side of the road, there was a
Udupi hotel. An old man, called Ramachari,
was working there. He had a three-wheeled
hand cart with four holes on which he could
safely keep four water pots made of brass.
During his free time, he collected drinkable
water from some wells and distributed it to his
clients. We were one such client of his.

On the other side of the road, and not
far, was a big house of a merchant, who
originally hailed from Pattikonda in Kurnool
District near ours. Their ancestors came here
long ago. On their ground, there was a big
well full of sweet water. This water could be
collected from the house side as well as from the
road side. Ramachari, during his free time,
filled his four pots and distributed it to the
houses of his clients. That is how we got
water for drinking, cooking and washing clothes.

Ramachari was fond of talking to us,
children. He had many stories to tell. There
were one or two bells tied to his handcart. And
it was easy to find out his movements. After
our school hours, if we heard the bells
of his cart, we eagerly awaited his coming
to hear stories. Very rarely, he was absent. Then
we had to go to the sweet water well and bring
water for our house. Fortunately, the owners
of the house never refused. Even during summer,
there was enough water in the well.

Later, after building of the Tungabhadra
Dam, there was no shortage of good water.
Supply arrangements were made by the
Municipality.”

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( The photo is of the dam across the river Tungabhadra, taken about 25 years ago)

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