No Water? India – Gurgaon Infrastructure Dilemma

Leslie Woodford

NoteWater India is part of a travel blog that I wrote during an extended business trip to India. I spent two months in New Delhi as my employer implemented a new business unit in two of its call centers. In addition to my professional work, I took time to study Hindi, an effort that fostered greater co-operation and trust among my Indian business associates. It also helped me better understand the culture. We believe that language opens a gateway to understanding culture. These pages focus on my observations and experiences in India. While I was there, I practiced Walkabout Language Learning. See the list of "More India Stories" on this page to explore how culture and language intertwine.

Wearing my Salwar Kameez Showing of my new salwaar kameez.

Here is an interesting thing: the power goes out here at least once a day, usually a couple times a day. It is only off for about a minute before coming back on. At the guesthouse that is; at work they have a UPS - an uninterruptible power supply - to maintain power until the back up power generators kick in.

When I was talking to a Swiss lady that I met who lives on one of the buildings in our apartment complex, she said that it comes back on because there are two big generators in the apartment complex on the roof of one or two of the buildings. They kick in to provide power when the city power supply fails. If power is out for a long time, the generators have to trade off so that they can cool down.

Wow! That is different from my expectations back home. Here in Gurgaon, the governmental infrastructure is not sufficient to provide continuous power so private parties have to make provisions for themselves if they want a continuous power supply.

Additionally, there is no public water. The apartment complex draws on two aquifers under the ground for the water we have. (No wonder they say "Don't drink the water" considering the infinite number of men I've seen by the roadside... when you gotta go, you gotta go...) Apparently there is no public water in India, Gurgaon where the office and my apartment are (it is a suburb of Delhi). They are running a pipe from Delhi to Gurgaon to provide water, but the project has gotten stalled because there is a railway track in the way, and the government can't decide what to do about it. Go over, under, around? It's been four years they are thinking about it. (This also according to the Swiss lady.) We don't realize the conveniences that we take for granted in the US.

Yesterday, I wore the salwar kameez that I bought at the market. It is like a long shirt with blowsy trousers. It is pretty and very feminine. There is this silk shawl thing that I wear with it, just draped over my shoulders with the ends hanging down the back. Seems not so very practical, but very feminine as it sways and swishes as I walk. About a million people told me a looked beautiful, even a few people that I didn't know. So, of course, I felt flattered by the end of the day and had a huge smile on my face. I also wore a bindi, the little black dot thingy on my forehead. It is a fashion statement. (The big red ones are for married women, but the other colors are for fashion.)

Also of interest, only 12% of people in India own cars.

--Posted by Leslie, Friday, August 22

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