Sunday, May 06, 2007

Boiling Water

As I have written before, lecturers from the Samtse College of Education have been involved with the mock election. Some of them had to walk for hours or days to reach the remote villages they were assigned to. One of the lecturers that went to a remote village told me the following story:

We were walking for a long time, had to cross the river many times, and in the end it even started raining. By the time we reached the village, we were completely wet and shivering. The local people in the village had arranged a fire and we were gathering around that fire. We were served tea to help us warm up a little bit. The Ghos were put next to the fire to make sure that they would dry fast.

On the fire, there was a pot with water. The local elder responsible for the community asked one of the village folks whether the water in the pot was already boiled. By health awareness campaigns, they must have learned that water should be boiled before drinking. The man touched the pot and told his elder that it was hot and therefore the water was boiled.

Upon discovering this, we realized that the tea that we were drinking consisted of water that was boiled this way. We told the elder how to properly recognize when water has boiled. He apologized several times and told us that he didn't know how to detect when water is properly boiled. The next morning, we were getting properly boiled water and again many apologies.

Let me add two comments to this story.

First, the story gives you a feeling for how remote certain places still are. Some knowledge is out and available although sometimes not the entire knowledge. Please understand me right; I have the deepest respect for people out in the villages. They have not an easy life and try to adopt knowledge from the outside as fast as only possible. But as the communities are remote and access to communication technology and the power grid is not available, there is a long way to go on getting knowledge out to those communities. Keeping in mind that those people are used to live in a kingdom, it might give you an idea that it won't be easy to establish a democracy - a system in which you can actually choose your representation.

My second comment is a more personal one. Right now, it is pretty hot down here in Samtse. Normally, I don't have problems dealing with heat but it must be more than 37 degrees Celsius right now - and that's not too bad. Due to the heat and the missing rain, I'm not getting any reliable water supply in my room. Water comes and goes. The water tap in the toilet gives me access to water now and then. All the other taps - they are mounted higher up - are not getting any water. With a bit of knowledge about the local water system, I know how much water is remaining in the water tank; an outlook that is not exactly fun...
To those circumstances, add a stomach that decided to get its own life. I haven't eaten a lot during the last couple of days and don't really feel like doing so. Not quite sure what caused the problems; it might have been bad food or - and this brings me back to boiling water - unboiled water. Sure, I'm boiling my water but it might be that my water boiler is damaged and gives me a wrong status about the water. For the time being, I started boiling my water the old way with gas and will see whether this will solve the problem.

My - or better my stomach's - conclusion for today: even if technology is doing simple things such as boiling water for you, it might make sense to distrust it now and then :-).

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