Our neighbour Sastry garu commented, " Ours is a special street, we always have the sacred akash ganga falling on us from heavens and flowing through the street every now and then. Especially during the summer months it is full of water quenching the thirst of the parched cement road.”Puttaparthi has the luxury of having one bore well in each apartment. Due to the boon of uninterrupted power supply, the denizens have the comfort of switching on the bore well whenever they want. Chalapati the caretaker of a neighbouring building says, his chest puffed up with pride, “I was in Anantapur recently, there they have twelve hours of power cuts but we have none in Parthi, you see this is the abode of the lord.” He switches on the motor switch and adds, “Cities like Kurnool and Vijayawada have minimum eight to ten hours of power cuts. I heard that even Hyderabad has a load shedding of six hours a day. Even the temple town of Tirupati faces a load shedding of six hours.”
What is unusual is that the promptness in switching on is lacking in promptly switching off the motor switch. Then comes the incessant cascade of akash ganga and it flows through this street of Parthi, sometimes stopping at one place due to the lack of engineering expertise of the contractors who laid the cement roads known as pothole. All the buildings around and their residents feel like Bhagirathas who have taken the responsibility of getting the Ganga not from the heavens but from their respective ‘building peaks’ generally from their ‘sintex’ glaciers. Our apartment is the only one which is committing the sin of first of all not adding a tributary to this heavenly Ganges and then showing the audacity of trying to prevent this cascade of water which has come only to slake the thirst of the road and few two wheelers and four wheelers eagerly parked to experience its limpid waters.
Unfortunately this Ganga in the words of Sastry garu again, ‘gets transformed into a vaitarni river (a mythological river separating hell and heaven). We actually have the ordeal of proving ourselves pure and holy by crossing it every day.
O! Chalapati, please switch off the motor, you should be careful, don’t waste water like this” I yell, when he walks past quite leisurely, getting drenched in his contribution to the akash ganga. “No problem sir, the road has not been washed for quite some time, it is a good service if some water overflows.” Then with utter indifference he ripostes avoiding eye contact, “You see, so many sparrows, pigeons, dogs, cats quench their thirst.”
It has become an invariable practice of our family to run to the nearby buildings and turn off the motor switch. We know the motor switches of all the buildings perhaps better than the residents of these apartments. Our auditory capabilities have become very strong, I exclaim, ‘this is Sai Prema apartment or that is the Sai Raghavendra apartment or the Sai Sainik apartment’, immediately after hearing a gush of water from heavens. My brother says in exasperation, “I will go and turn off the switch, I can’t bear the water getting wasted.”
We the residents of Satya Sai Soudham had an image of infallibility and all others were goaded by our conscience acting as their alter- ego, in preventing wastage of water. But they got relieved of this burden of conscience one day. It was the IPL going on in full swing. We were glued to the TV to watch the whirlwind knock of Gayle. The ‘Gaylestorm’ stuck us unawares and our ‘cement tank’ glacier melted first time ever and off came our contribution to the akash ganga to the merriment of many denizens of our street. By the time we realized there was a big pool of water in front of our house. One of us switched on our motor and forgot to turn it off. I immediately went and turned it off.
Many of the residents came out, especially Chalapati and looked at the new tributary with glee. Next morning, few of them came to me and gave a piece of advice, “Sir, you should be careful, don’t waste water like this.”