Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Water, the new Coca Cola

I walked through Istanbul airport, in transit for my transcontinental flight. Istanbul appears a new entrant in the globalisation of airports. That is why it felt more like a crowded market alley than an airport terminal. We should perhaps then discount them some for their faux pas about which I am writing. However they created the inspiration for this blog, enough to feel outraged, stay thirsty for awhile and to write it. And for that I am thankful to them.

I walked around looking for a water fountain, my throat parched after long hours inside a pressurised cabin. I saw sparkling bottles lining every coffee shop, restaurant and cafe. 

I had been questioning the concept of bottled water for some time now and this kept getting reaffirmed since I had been observing people instinctively buy bottled water while buying food, often without a second thought. 

It always took me back to our childhood days of train travels, where my parents carried a long necked earthen pitcher on  a wooden stand that kept the water really cool. It got refilled at large train platforms or in bottles that people carried. And every station had free water for whoever was thirsty. Granted we had more stomach viruses then. And of course, why look back, keep looking forward always....

But I have resisted buying water since some time, while also trying to retrain myself to minimize these and other resource wasting habits. 

So I walked on, thinking there has to be free water somewhere!

That's when I came across bottled water vending machines, swathed in Coca Cola wrapping and branding......the very idea bothered my sensibilities.

And to add to the thirst distress of travelers, the machines took only Turkish money and only in coins.... 

I stayed thirsty for an hour. 
Don't ask me why. Pigheadedness? Principle? Did not have Turkish money? All of the above perhaps....

Yes I could afford to buy a bottle of water as could any of the travelers there who had afforded to buy an international airline ticket. But that was not the point... 

Just how far will we go to displace water from being a fundamental free resource? 

Accepting that we always must have the right to choose between an opportunity for a stomach virus and a peaceful night of sleep. But no choice? 

Istanbul airport, I hope you see it the way I do.

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