Befriending water

I’d never thought that I’d go to Switzerland and complain about it being too warm there. During the 9 days we spent traversing the length and breadth of that country, we encountered temperatures upwards of 35ºC. That temperature is fine for sitting at home under a fan, but when you are walking about for hours with sun over your head, it gets a bit much. Which is precisely why the locals in Basel don’t walk about, they simply float in Rhine with the current.

The cluster of yellow dots you see in the water in the picture above, is people with various kinds of life vests, donuts, or anything that’d help them stay afloat, drifting away in the river on a warm summer afternoon.

I grew up in Delhi in a neighbourhood that was plagued with a perennial water-shortage. For the longest time, the supply of water to our house was erratic and Dad would cycle with two jerrycans hanging from the handlebars to fetch water from a tap at a temple nearby. Things improved after a few years and our neighbourhood started getting regular supply of water in the taps but the supply hours were (and to date are) woefully inadequate. Every household would hoard water in an overhead tank to give an illusion of 24hr water supply. You could take a long bath, but you were always aware of how finite the quantity of water was. Given the water situation, swimming was the last thing you’d expect a middle class family to teach the children.

Water is an integral part of life in the Netherlands. It’s hard to visit a city here and not find canals or a river in the heart of the city. Swimming is considered a basic survival skill that is taught here as early as the age of 6 months! Ever since I’ve moved here, I’ve been wanting to learn swimming but since it’s not something I can do in my bathroom or backyard, I’ve been putting it off.

The visit to Basel, especially those walks in the afternoon by Rhine, reminded me that I should make a more serious effort to acquaint myself better with what more than 70% of this plant and our bodies are made of. I’ve signed up for a class at an indoor swimming pool here today. And though for now I am on a waiting list, I hope to get a call for my first lesson sometime in September. I can’t wait to get started!

August 26, 2012