Water on high

Raju and I slung large bags over our shoulders and waded into the maze of hardware shops in Chennai’s Georgetown area. I believed I was diligent with my shopping list: couplings, elbows, bends, tees, jointing, wire rope, PVC glue, shellac, valves, epoxy and quite a few other tiny needs. Then Venu, my loyal handyman came over and we discussed the expedition plan and design of a few specially fabricated items.

On Sunday, August 26, four of us rode out with the parts and arrived at the site at 10am. We had speculated that we would be done by 4pm; it was in fact midnight by the time we returned. Despite the planning quite a few things went wrong. Of course I had forgotten a few parts and so drove 30km to get them from a shop in Pounjoor. The aging tanks required a lot of repair. Pipeline from the windmill had to be laid leak proof and a foot underground. Before we knew it was sunset. Luckily a splendid moon rose and we worked on. It was close to ten when we began the two hour drive back, quite tired and hungry. A couple of loose ends remained, but we left to return another day.

The next morning several leaks showed up. Venu got busy with fabricating solutions and over the next ten days, Raju and I managed to stop most of them. On September 1, I could say, water is fetched up from 120′ below ground by the windmill, moved in 50mm pipes over 200 feet, pushed up 14′ and dropped into the 4,000 litre storage. From there, 32mm pipes bring it down and there is a controlling valve. Water is on tap!

Now that the nightmare is over, I can see many virtues in the experience. There are quite a few lessons to be learnt. There is a boom on. Prices will only rise and workers will be scarce and unreliable. I have to be creative with future building constructions. If I did, I’d find solutions that are also environmentally harmonious. Maybe the headlong madness with which a gloating India is celebrating its economic successes will eventually lead to recalling wise solutions from the past and maybe upgrading them for the times, just a bit.

What options are there? I will next build a 700 sqFt utility space from bamboo and coconut leaf mat and maybe, thatch it too. We found a quarry within 10 km of the pointReturn site. We bought 14 hand hewed granite posts each seven feet long. In one long afternoon of steady work, locations had been marked and 10 pillars had been set into the ground. No concreting was required and so, no cement was used. Literally, foundation had been completed, termite proofed by use of granite posts and the sides were, virtually 5 feet off the ground. The stone cutter had shaped curves on top of pillars to seat bamboo runners and that can happen quite quickly. Of this, later.

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