Thursday, April 9, 2009

Gathering water

Most of the days during the war, we didn't have running water regularly. There were times when we didn't have it for months, and then other times when we would have it on a set schedule, i.e. every 5th day.

We had canisters, bottles, and different containers filled with water all over our apartment, a habit that was hard to break for years after the war was officially over. On a day when we had water, we would try to store as much of it as we possibly could, by filling everything from the bathtub to small jars. But that can only last so long, and we had to go gather the water when we run out.

In the first couple of years, people have constructed several manual water pumps in our neighbourhood. We would take all the empty canisters to the pump, and wait in line , sometimes for hours, to collect the water. The challenge was bringing those gallons and gallons back home. We used skate boards, hand-made carts, and those who were lucky had a bicycle.

There were few, very rare, occasions when a cistern would come into our neighbourhood, but it would take only a handful of people with huge barrels to empty the cistern before most of us would get any of the water.

We were fortunate that there was a little creek in our neighbourhood. The water there was clean barely enough to use for the toilets. We had special buckets that were used only to gather that water, and we collected it every couple of days or so. The bacteria in the water would quickly develop a terrible smell, and that multiplied by 8 stories of apartments, made it at times unbearable to stay anywhere near the bathrooms. Some people have even done laundry or were washing rugs on the river banks, but I always doubted that the smell would air out after the clothes dry.

On rainy days, people would venture out with buckets and cups to collect water from large puddles formed on a parking lot with a bad drainage. Those who were super vigilant, or in desperate need of water, would run out in the rain first and position their buckets or barrels under the rain gutters. Water from rain gutters is cleaner and fills the canisters much faster than scooping it up from the ground. Rain water was much better than water from the creek, and it can be kept longer without developing an odor. Besides for toilets, we used it for washing clothes.

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