…and there goes our water supply.
I started this trip to KL by talking about being deluged by a metaphorical flood. On the ground, I had been warned to expect a week of rain ahead, as we are now in what locals call the rainy season which occurs towards the end of the year. There have been torrential rains in the past weeks.
When I boarded the taxi at the airport the driver said that it had been raining all night and the wet weather was set to continue. Approaching the family home, I noticed KL Sister walking up the hill with the family pooches in a pair of very swanky wellingtons.
However there has not been a drop of rain since I arrived on Saturday morning, or at least not on my patch. KL Sister is delighted and repeatedly says
You brought the sunshine with you!
There is an English saying that every cloud has a silver lining. Unfortunately in Malaysia our silver lining has a cloud.
On Tuesday morning, our part-time maid says the water supply is being cut from today. She says it in typical Malaysian style, in one long phrase with no pause
This week no water-lah auntie why you don’t know-ah you didn’t see the paper?
She says this after we have used a lot of our stored water washing the clothes and showering my disabled sister who even had her hair washed.
It turns out that news of the water stoppage featured prominently in the Indian newspapers but only merited a tiny column in the English newspapers.
The English newspapers concentrated on several recent murders, the high rate of communicable diseases amongst foreign labourers and the much anticipated year-end Sales. There’s a lot on politics too but the media is largely state controlled so must not believe what you read in the papers.
On our trip to Dubai, KL Sister looked down from the dizzying heights of Burj Khalifa and marvelled that there were huge patches of green in the desert. She now repeated her criticism of the Malaysian government
We live in the tropics with heavy rainfall and the bloody government can’t even guarantee our water supply. This is the sixth time our water has been cut recently and all they can talk about is raising the price of this and that and everything else. How much more can the people take? Everyone is being squeezed left, right and centre.
We manage to locate some information hidden away in the website of the water company. The water company is called Syabas which is the Malay word for Congratulations. Maybe a little humility, and a change of name, is warranted.
There is a schedule of when we might have water, which this week gives us a small window between 4pm on Wednesday until 9am on Thursday. The water supply is then cut between 9am on Thursday until 4pm on Saturday. Then water is restored until 9am on Monday when there is a further cut until…until when? The information runs out after Tuesday.
KL Sister and I make a (bucket) list of everything we need to do when the water supply is restored. We have to work very fast because we need to sleep as well. At least the water tanks can be filled overnight.
I recall that water shortages are nothing new. When I was growing up, as we lived up a hill with low water pressure and pumps not strong enough to power water upwards, we often relied on water brought in on tankers. The whole neighbourhood would gather round the tanker and fill whatever pails, buckets, cooking pots and bottles that might be lying around our compounds.
When I asked if the water company might bring in a tanker this time, KL Sister said no one does such things anymore. Which is a shame, as I would have liked going out to meet our neighbours and have a communal whinge. Now we rely on bottled water and an array of restaurants that can feed us when our domestic kitchen is closed for business.
And so I end where I began, on why it was our Indian maid who first noticed the water cut. When you have no access to any extra income, you have to do so much more planning ahead. There is no money for bottled water or for eating out.
At every level of Malaysian society, there are some things that will be out of reach for its citizens. Unfortunately at the top end, the political leaders of the country have taken every good thing for itself, leaving majority of the population to scramble amongst themselves for whatever cast-offs the heads of the country have not cared to own or exploit. Is there a day of justice and restoration? Ordinary Malaysians certainly hope so. Ordinary Christians certainly hope so:
Whoever says to the guilty, “You are innocent,” will be cursed by peoples and denounced by nations. But it will go well with those who convict the guilty, and rich blessing will come on them. Proverbs 24:24-25 (NIV)