No Water in Chennai


Look at me. Do I look like I have had a bath? Not in the last one week,” says G Rukmini, 65, carrying two pots of water from her second-floor house to the cemented patch abutting the street below, where she now squats alongside a tub full of unwashed clothes.

As she stirs up the soap foam, Rukmini’s neighbour taunts her: “You haven’t been bathing and yet you have all these clothes to wash.” Rukmini shoots back: “Why? As if you have had a bath.” “No, I haven’t. We have been managing somehow,” laughs Ramani.

Ramani’s neighbour Shankar, a criminal lawyer practising in a city court, walks past and the women now decide to rib him. “You haven’t bathed, yet look at yourself. Do you use up all your water just on that white shirt you usually wear to court,” says Ramani as the two women break into loud guffaws. Shankar smiles and walks off.

As Chennai goes through one of its worst water crises in nearly two decades, made worse by failed monsoons last year and shifting rainfall patterns over the years, here in Kapali Thottam, a slum rehabilitation colony in the Mylapore area of the city, almost every conversation is centered around water — and in light-hearted moments such as these, much of this is about missed bathing cycles.

To read more about Chennai and it’s water crisis, please click here to visit the India Express website article.