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Saturday, April 04, 2009

Sri Vilas: The Well

Here are a couple more pictures of Sri Vilas that I took a while ago. Well, come to think of it, one of these is from last month and the other is from almost four years ago! If you want to spot the difference, the one from four years ago were taken in August, after the monsoons, and hence the vegetation is way more lush than usual. But why am I going on and on about this especially because there isn't a whole lot of foliage in either photograph.

The following pictures are a couple of views of the well that we use for our freshwater. In Kerala, most houses have wells like this where people can drop their bucket to a pool of water below to access this most precious resource. This first picture was an attempted perspective shot to give you a feeling of where the well was located in terms of the overall layout of the house.

In case you're looking at this and going "Huh?" the well is the little curved structure in the lower half of the picture, kind of in the middle. Don't know what I mean, then check out this next picture.

Here you can see my mother drawing water from the well. That she seems to be thinking about something else happens to be another matter entirely. In fact, that prompts me to disclaim, "Don't try this at home!"

But this is how it was done in the old days. If you needed water then you had to draw it from the well. This means for any little thing, like to take to the kitchen to wash your vegetables, or the dishes. Or to wash your vehicle which was parked further away. Or even to water the potted plants that were arranged all around the house, during the blistering summer months. That was how it was done, and I'm happy to say that I still remember this epoch of manually accessing the water I needed. In the last ten years or thereabouts, the house has been fitted with the luxury of plumbing. This means that where there is a faucet, all you have to do is turn and voila! What this also means, is that you have to turn on a pump which pumps the water from the well to an overhead water tank for at least half an hour every day to be able to enjoy this luxury. Talk about a changing lifestyle. Nowadays, we can turn on the faucet in the kitchen, in the yard, and even in the toilets which, strangely enough was built well away from the well, to get running water. But even in my own lifetime I remember this not always being the case. And if you're wondering about the medieval lifestyle that I seem to lead when I go back "home", well, you obviously missed the post about this house being 150 years old.

Interesting fact about this well: There are/were fish living in it. Some variety of tilapia is what I was told. I don't see them around now, but when I was little, I remember being able to feed them. What we used to do was to make an inverted burping sound with our lips, and they would slowly rise near the surface. Then, we'd sprinkle a little bit of the rice we had prepared and watch them feed.

Before you ask, yes we drink this water. And of course, we boil it first. ;-)

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