Everyone tells me how much more comfortable life is in the US, as compared to India. I have heard this so many times now that sometimes I even believe it. So whenever I am washing and folding four laundry loads of clothes, or battling backache and vacuuming the house, or hand-washing the dishes the dishwasher refused to clean, I tell myself how easy things are in the US. How lucky I am, that I get to spend my weekends doing all this, instead of watching movies or lazing around like people do in India ?
I also try to remind R how lucky he is, to be able to spend entire weekend mornings mowing the lawn or shoveling snow. But somehow, I get the feeling R does not quite agree. That’s perhaps why he puts down his shovel and glares at me for a full minute before starting to shovel again.
But both of us agree on some things. When R comes indoors with frozen hands, tears off his gloves and hurriedly holds his hands under the tap for hot water, he agrees that it’s great that we can get hot tap water.
I have always appreciated having hot tap water to make tea with, or use in cooking. But now I am learning to appreciate tap water even more – for I learn that it also comes packed with minerals. Lead, actually. All I need to do to get my daily dose of lead is to drink hot water from the tap, the New York Times experts tell me. Even cold tap water will do, they say. To increase the concentration of lead in tap water, I just need to boil it.
The article also tells me that I can get 20% of my lead exposure from tap water. The rest, no doubt, comes from Thomas trains and whitewashed walls.
But just as I dislike eggplant, perhaps some you don’t like lead. Then you may panic and say, wait, how do I cook then, if I can’t boil tap water? Of course the article does not tell you this. Why would it, for everyone knows that New Yorkers never cook. Even if any new transplant to NYC had such bizarre ideas as cooking, they would abandon such thoughts as soon as they saw their new apartment’s kitchen. If you are wondering “NYC apartments have kitchens?”, let me explain that by “kitchen”, I mean the left living room wall.
Those of you living in India are, no doubt, laughing at me right now. Whoever heard of using tap water to cook anyway? Doesn’t everyone know that cooking involves buying large cans of bottled water and stacking them up to the ceiling? How little you guys in the US know, you are thinking.
You are right, of course. India has always been far ahead of the US in packing its tap water with minerals. But hey, as you can see, we are catching up fast too.
I know what you will say next – granted, your US tap water has some minerals now, but does it have immunity boosters? You know, what some people cynically call bacteria. You will say Indian tap water has millions of them, and that’s why you are all so strong, while we in the US sniffle with allergies every time we meet a dust particle.
You are right again, sadly. I have yet to meet any typhoid bacteria in the US, and I know, sadly, that I have no hope of getting a 2 week-long paid medical leave. But hey, the US is trying its best. We have the next best thing – bountiful Legionnaires disease bacteria in our tap water.
So as you can see, we are improving all the time. I am dreaming of the day when I shall open the tap in the US and see a brown, salty stream of water that will be packed with minerals and immunity boosters.
Or that deep philosophical moment when I open the tap and nothing comes out. What better way to prove that everything, including water, is just an illusion?
I am not sure when that day will dawn. For now, I know what I will say to anyone who tells me that I am gaining weight. I will tell them, it’s all the lead I am drinking in every day.