Water! Water! I’m Burning Up!

Yesterday was the worst day of the year – well, apart from that day in January when I had two heaters running and yet I still felt frozen. One of the worst things about Nepal is the weather. Especially if you live in the plains, the terrai, where the winter is so cold you can’t stay naked, and the summers are so hot you can’t keep your clothes on!

But yesterday, I faced it rough. The temperatures hit 40 degrees, and then my taps ran dry. I live in Dhangadi, a rural town of Nepal with severe water problems. Most of the ground water has arsenic. I have to rely on piped water, which comes only twice a day, at about 6-9am and 3-5pm.

The problem is I slept very late the other night, because I was chatting with my girlfriend all night (long distance love is very difficult). So I woke up after the water supply company had turned off the tap. To my horror, I discovered that my reservoir tank was empty. I was sweating, humidity was up to 80%, yet I couldn’t take a shower! My skin felt like it was peeling off.

To worsen it, electricity went off. I couldn’t turn on the fan to cool down my room. And the sun shone with such fierceness that I felt I was in an oven.

3pm came and I ran to the taps, to fill up my cans and my tank, but the tap stayed dry. It happens often. It’s the price you pay for living in a rural town.

I could not go to my neighbors to get water. This is Nepal, a Hindu society. I’m a black man, and they think that black people are lower caste, untouchables, you are not supposed to share water with them. All my neighbors are Brahmins (the highest caste) and Tharus, third in the hierachy. And though we talk on the streets, none of them has ever invited me into their homes. In contrast, the white couple who live a short distance away get invited to all the weddings and parties. I once asked my neighbors for water, but they gave me a stupid excuse, which revealed to me that they think I’m an untouchable because I’m black, so I’m not supposed to share water sources with them.

In the past, the caste system wasn’t determined by skin color. But “…because of the colonization in India, some people tend to think in that way.” Dr. Khrisna Bahadur Battachan told me this in an interview I had with him once, which appears in my documentary, Untouchable Love.
The problem with the house I’m renting is that I have a broken manual water pump, and so when the piped water runs out, I have no other water source. I once complained to the landlord, but she never fixed it.

And so here I was in an oven, unable to shower, unable to turn on the fan. I tried ‘dry cleaning’ myself with a towel, which I made wet by wiping the sink, but it only worsened the slimy feeling on my skin. I felt like snails had left their goo all over my body. I endured a terrible night, tossing and turning, with the bed sheets sticking to my skin like filthy rags. I kept all the windows open. The full moon shone all night, smiling at me, laughing at my woes.
Morning came. The sun rose, promising me a new day. But the taps stayed dry until 7am. By this time, I was nearly mad with rage, though I looked as calm as a stone abandoned in the desert.

So now I’ve filled up all my water cans, and the tank, and I can’t wait for the day I fly back home to Uganda!

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7 Replies to “Water! Water! I’m Burning Up!”

  1. How awful! Were you able to drink? I know plenty of people who believe that Nepal is the best place in the world. You must experience it entirely differently. It's so difficult when people see only your difference and not your humanity.

  2. hey first of all my sincere apologies for late reply. I changed the things as per your suggestions hope you like it :). 2nd lovely blog its weird I am kind of going through the phase you stated on this blog.Caste based discrimination is still subtly rampantin western india. I am the khastriya and my neighbour is devout Brahmin so I feel it every day lol.And oh yes long distance relationships are tough indeed.I been in that since last 3 years so been there done that.

  3. Facebook Comments

    Pragya Raut
    well without reading complete story i was going to write .."see bro..love only makes u suffer..lol"…but bro 🙁 thats terrific…i din't know nepalese of rural area behave like that to black people..n i m feeling really bad that they n scarcity of water made u feel like going back to uganda at once!! ..but u cant analyse in that only..educated people are fine n nice ..aren't they bro?like me:P . dunno what to write more:(

    June 17 at 11:41am · Unlike · 1 person

    Pragya Raut n i was kidding yestersday abt not getting water..sorry i thought it wasn't that serious:S

    June 17 at 11:43am · Unlike · 1 person

    Dilman Dila Yes, educated people like you are fine, bahini 🙂 si you invited me to your home? It's those who live near the boarder with India who are really bad, not all of them, but most.

    Blessed Veron
    so Dila why dont u come back home..coz atleast here the weather is fine.
    June 17 at 1:57pm · Like

    Amit Kumar Please Don't call him back. Because we(People who ever love in INDIA) need him……
    June 17 at 4:16pm · Like

    Dan Ngobi true dila should come back home!!
    June 17 at 8:15pm · Like

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