With the temperature surging in summer, what could be more pleasing to the eyes of a passer-by, than a roadside water cooler? There is not just one but many on the streets of Kuwait … one within meters of another in a few places! They are usually installed in areas frequented by people like the roads, parks, near mosques and shops. While some have been set up by the Ministry, others are purely the initiative of kind-hearted samaritans. In the latter case, the coolers are usually installed in front of the individuals’ houses. Provision of free drinking water for public in a desert country is such a thoughtful act. It undeniably deserves appreciation and the philanthropy, emulation. But many people carry their own water bottles or purchase mineral water from shops and only some use these coolers. Those in the parks especially near the beach are comparatively better utilised – parks are the major chill out zones for people other than shopping malls and they draw a crowd of health freaks. Those on the roads are occasionally used by walkers to fill their bottles and a few stray pedestrians drink from tumblers chained to the coolers. And one thing about the water coolers that never ceases to amuse the onlookers is their design. They come in various shapes … like lanterns, water bottles, water tanks, pitchers and so on. I have uploaded the pics of some of them that I managed to capture.
A parallel situation exists in India. Well, water coolers on roads are out of question there. May be, coolers are donated to institutions like schools and orphanages by patrons, but to install them on roads is not very feasible there. In summer, what humanitarians there do is build ‘thaneer pandals’ (water booths) in front of bungalows, houses, on the streets, near bus stands or temples – small shamianas or thatched roofs are erected and under their shade are placed earthen pots filled with clean drinking water or sometimes even buttermilk. Care is taken to keep the pots covered with lids, place tumblers on the lids and to replenish the supply from time to time. The pots are usually arranged atop small heaps of sand. The clay pot and the sand moistened by water from the pot facilitate efficient evaporative cooling and thereby provide icy cold water. These thaneer pandals serve as cool stopovers that quench the thirst of weary travelers. Same thoughtfulness, but expressed in a modest way.
Have you been touched by similar practices elsewhere? Grab this opportunity to appreciate them.