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FRESH OFF THE PLANE: Going with the flow

We’ve known Wendy and James for many years. Ever since we moved to Canada, in fact, and bought the house next to theirs.

Over the years, our friendship has deepened. We’ve baby-sat for each other, we go on day trips together and every summer, we rent a cottage for a week and all of us – my husband Ravi and  I, our two kids and Wendy and James, their two kids and their dog – have the greatest time together.

Last month, we were away for our week together. The men set up the bbq, the kids went for a swim and Wendy and I went for one of our long walks on the beach. 

After dinner, since the men had made the dinner, we offered to wash up while they enjoyed a smoke on the deck.

It was while washing up that Wendy asked me this:

“So how come you never jump up and shut the tap while I am doing the dishes?”

I had no idea what she was talking about.

“Why would I do that?” I asked in return. “Do you want me to?”

“No, but I thought it’s something you guys did...” she said, beginning to sound a little doubtful at my reaction. 

“Something we guys did? What? Who?” I asked. This was getting curiouser and curiouser.

Wendy began giggling at my baffled look.

They used to run a bed-and-breakfast many years ago, she said. Once they had an Indian couple stay for a few days. 

“They were really nice and the lady and I really hit it off,” said Wendy. “She used to sit and chat with me while I was getting breakfast organized and even offered to help with the dishes. Of course, I wouldn’t let her do that, but when I was washing up, she’d shut the tap ever so often. 

“I didn’t know why and felt awkward to ask a guest. I always thought it was an ‘Indian’ thing. But you never do that.”

After I was done laughing, I told her to make us coffee – I’m the tea-maker in the group – and sat her down to explain that many of us come from places where water is a precious commodity. When one gets water for a few hours a day and has to store it in overhead tanks, drums and even buckets, one gets a little obsessive about it. 

“We can’t handle water being wasted, seeing water running while someone is just standing there talking!” 

But we both agreed that there was lot of environmental wisdom in that habit and promised to leap up and shut the taps should either of us be caught wasting water.            
– Arathi Ramakrishnan

Posted: Jul 31, 2013

August 2017



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