So, here we are. Off Indian soil. A London hotel and Owen is thirsty…”so thirsty, I’ll die if I don’t have a drink, mama.”
He wants the bottled mineral water in the room. Not so unusual. Bottled water is standard and free in our Indian travels. Mini-bars are cheap and we’ve emptied them for less than 20 bucks. THIS water is NOT free. And NOT cheap. I’m economizing and London is expensive so I offer him a drink of water from the tap.
From his response it is clear that future counseling may be in order.
He cries. He refuses to drink. I am a desert and the oasis is contaminated.
“If you force me, I will do it.
“Owen, I am not forcing you to do anything. The tap water is safe but you have a choice not to drink it.”
“Give me the bubbly water, mama…!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” He cries. He moans. He bellows like the last bit of dry wind. “If you force me, I’ll drink it…”
Finally, an hour has passed and he must drink. A forlorn head bobble precedes, “Take me to that water, mama…” An endless march to certain doom.
We enter the hotel bathroom. The glass is overtly inspected by suspicious eyes. The tap is opened. The boy trembles. The glass is filled. He sips the tiniest of sips and then a larger, thirst-forced drink, before exclaiming…
“Owww. Owww. I’ve got the tummy crumps! It’s from that water! You MADE me dwink that bad water, mama. You’re a bad, bad mama!”
Indoctrinated time and again to the perils of unfiltered tap water, one can hardly blame him. We leave for a snack and I buy him a bottle of water. Happiness moves across his face. Surety of safety. Freedom from parasite. Purity of purpose…
Later, in the hotel room, I’m thirsty. I pick up a glass and go to the tap. And pause. Thoughtful.
5 minutes later I tell myself that it’s not a crime to want a bottle of carbonated water…
Out of Bangalore and Into the Rest of It…