I grew up in Madras. It is common knowledge that we had very severe water problems. I learnt at a very young age that we needed to conserve water. Maybe not as much from an environmental perspective, but definitely from a "use as little water as necessary" perspective. It used to amaze many of my north indian classmates that I used about half a bucket of water to have a bath everyday. They, then, seemed very proud of the fact that they used two buckets.
Old habits die hard. Even now I find myself shouting at the household help when she leaves the tap open while washing dishes or while washing the bathroom. It doesn't seem to make any difference that I say the same thing over and over again. At work, I find that people don't bother to close the tap when they're done using the wash basin. Is it indifference? But it's the same group of people send out mails to everyone asking them to join Earth Hour because it is good for the environment. What hypocrites!
Every morning, on my way to work, I cross a certain Delhi Jal Board office. I never fail to read the message at the entrance:
Dadi banate samay paani ko behne na de. (Do not keep the water running while shaving.)
This message is accompanied by a picture of a man shaving with the water running. And the entire picture is crossed out with a bold red "X".
Nothing wrong with any of this. It is a good message that I really think everyone needs to learn. A lesson that people in Madras learnt the hard way. I wonder if everyone must wait until it is too late. But the ironicaly, even the DJB guys don't seem to care about their own message. I guess it's all just nice to see on a poster or billboard, because I've noticed that whenever a water lorry goes from point A to point B, it does so in a very Hansel and Gretel sort of way. Dropping enough water on the way so it can find its way back home.
I suppose this is just one more thing that will remain beyond my comprehension!