Friday, 16 February 2007

Indian Sewage

I like to please my readers, so I'll explain the sewage system. In every little village in India... and for that matter in most large towns... you will see ditches. Now, most people from canada would view ditches as harmless things for keeping the excess rainwater out of their yards or streets. Here, the ditches have much more important function... and so they are very carefully constructed. In view of remaining sanitary, the Indian people dig nice little trenches anywhere from a couple feet deep by one foot wide, to massive streams that you need a bridge to cross. Most of these are old and have been there for a while, so they have a nice layer of grass and weeds along the sides. In the richer areas, you may find smooth concrete ditches, sometimes they may even cover them for a span of a few hundred meters, or build strong bridges overtop. One of the popular uses for these streams is for garbage. This happenes especially if you have a property boardering a stream, and most people's properties will boarder a stream or they'll dig one to connect with the main stream. So these people will throw their garbage over the fence and the lucky people can at this point just forget about it. We were fortunate to experience the joys of this system at certain points during our trip... "you mean here? just throw it over the fence?... I wonder what's over the fence? Oh My...." Another very popular use of these streams is for those in need of relieving themselves. Of course, you really don't need a stream for that, any roadside, bush, tree, or open area is plenty good enough when you're too far from a stream. And finally, all drains run to the stream...
Every bathroom we used in India had some similar features. If it was in a place where people would live, and need to wash, it generally involved the following:
- a toilet (either sit-down or squatty, always white)
- a tap about a foot and a half off the ground with a bucket and a plastic measuring cup (this is how you wash your bottom after going, left hand only please.)
- a sink (if you're lucky.)
- a shower head and taps (if you're even luckier)
- a drain in the corner (this is the special part... The sink would have a short metal pipe ducktaped to a plastic pipe that ran almost until the drain, and then emptied there. So anytime you use the sink, or shower you had a very wet bathroom floor, we used the floor squeegee very frequently)

This water flows fairly fast, and has such a dark tinge to it that it is termed "black water". So many pipes and drains all empty into the streams, along with people dumping sewage and various garbage into them. Unfortunately, this garbage habit has a tendancy to lead to blockages, and then the locals have to go wading in with big sticks to clear them out properly. This becomes especially important during the monsoon season, when the banks overflow on a regular basis and all the roads and open areas are flooded in sewage. In the large cities they have sewage systems, but most simply empty untreated into the rivers or ocean... and so I do not recommend swimming in any water in India. Of course, the numbers of people we saw using the roadside... means you really don't ever forget to wash hands before eating and wash feet before bed.

Thanks for asking Bill!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the explanation. Hum – I think? So black water eh, I wonder where we get our black ice from?

Seriously – I am glad you two made it to Australia safely and thanks for these blog updates.


monkeygaud said...

Heather, can you tell us more about some of the other stuff from India, like the people, or what you did, or anecdotes like that?
Also, the pics from your first post didn't seem to upload correctly - could you try re-posting them?

Thanks! Have fun in Australia too!

(side q: Is Krupa or John Babu still there? I really liked those guys...)