Being woken up at 4am by the annoying shrill of a Rooster isn’t fun – especially if you went to bed tired as a tombstone at about eleven. That said and done, we woke up and did what every villager does – grab the bicycle along-with two gigantic empty canisters and off to the well. The way to the well was all pleasant and pretty, we were even accompanied by one of the kids, Lakhi, as she wasn’t confident if we could manage the (what seemed like a) walk-in-a-park task of fetching water from the well. After lifting about half of what I’d need for a ‘cleansing’ bath, my arms didn’t feel so well – the city boy who thought he was rather fit came to his senses, so I and Robin decided to take turns. While lifting what-seemed-like gallons and gallons of water, we interacted with the other locals who were also there to lift water – it was quite a social chore, I must add. We talked about our jobs, families, where we come from and the usual. These social niceties made the act of lifting water a lot less mundane. What came as another shock to the city boy was that it was rather difficult to balance a bicycle with a canister carrying 10 litres of water on either side – but kein stress, because Lakhi was there to help. We arrived back at the Sawra-family house – 3 people, a bicycle and 20 litres of precious precious water.
The previous day we had explored the perimeters of the Sawra household – a main house where the family slept, a smaller house where the kids studied and now we slept in, a shed for the cows and a scantily demarcated area for bathing and washing dishes. Then we came across what one could say was the most shabby toilet in the history of toilets built by the Indian government – barely enough space for a anything-but-obese human to squat, no lighting whatsoever, and a grim look of not having ever been used. We wondered why. Now we knew why. After going through the trouble of getting water from the well – water just about enough to bathe – I wouldn’t want to squat in one of those tin-boxes and waste another 5 litres of water when I could just stroll down to lovely paddy-fields overlooking the mountains in Bhutan on one side and the Hattigor Tea Estate on the other. And that’s what we did. The reason being – water.