The Rime of the Ancient Waterboy
Water, water, everywhere.
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, everywhere,
Nor any drop to drink.
– Samuel Taylor Coleridge,
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
I sometimes imagine the journey of the Mariner and his crew taking place not in the troubled high seas, but in an ocean made entirely from iced tea, cola, or perhaps beer (in retrospect, a giant wave of Pale Pilsen is awesome). There would definitely be enough to drink there. No need those reverse osmosis machines and seven-step purification processes they have in water refilling stations.
Maybe pollution, environmental degradation, and social tastes have turned water from something drank into something more complicated than a couple of hydrogen atoms bound to an oxygen atom. There are so many ways that we treat and purify water to make it more social, more palatable, safer, and perhaps more appealing. There are the reverse osmosis processes I don’t take the trouble to understand. Some people add rocks to the water bottle to “mineralize” the water, which is either quack science or it really does add a real effect. There’s vitamin-fortified water, and for those of us who find plain old water unappealing, there are flavored water brands for us to guzzle. Then there’s foo-foo water: expensive brands of water that come from some spring or brook in the European continent, which make no sense at all.
I have yet to take a crack at drinking holy water from baptismal fonts and stoups, but I wouldn’t go that far in the search for the perfect glass of water.
Drinking water is serious business, I realized, for some people. In some places in Hong Kong, for example, the diner is enjoined and encouraged to finish a meal with hot – not cold – water, to aid digestion. Some restaurants flavor the service water with a wedge of lemon to help carry the taste. With industrial populations increasingly becoming hypochondriac, water manufacturers have taken to spike their water with flavorings and vitamins. Flavored water has found its way to vice: a chaser for alcoholic drinks, for a pause between chain smoking sessions, and things that are inhaled (don’t make me go there).
Heck, water is the premise of an entire soap opera broadcast on ABS-CBN. With “Agua Bendita,” I wouldn’t be surprised with offshoots like “Agua Oxigenada.” We should draw the line at plot lines for, say, “Aceite de Manzanilla,” where a love team is formed from a girl taking chamomile flowers from the garden of her love interest’s mother, causing the random appearance of the best damn plot device in the history of Philippine broadcasting: Bro.
Or “Sebo de Macho,” but I don’t know how that will go about.
Anyway, back to water. In times of El Niño and increasing prices of commodities, I find it odd that nobody’s pushing to make drinking water a definitive agenda in the 2010 polls (there, let’s make this political), much less make it a central issue for legislation and execution. For a country surrounded by water, we have yet to develop a system to properly supply each Filipino with drinking water, each field with irrigation, and restore rivers and aquatic ecosystems. All this personality-bashing taking place on the Internet does not put food in the stomach or moisten the tongue; perhaps it behooves us to discover a way to distill expensive water from the saliva of both pundit and politician and earn ourselves the dollars to buy Kindles, get rid of corruption, and stop taking baths in the dagat of basura and let all of us be convinced this is all posible.
“Water, water, everywhere,” laments the Mariner, yet we still do not have enough to drink. On my way home, I gave a street kid the iced tea I was drinking, and realized that maybe there is. At least in this world, I guess; and in the process of 30 minutes, proving to Sparkie that even in the most rambling, incoherent manner brought about by drunkenness and insomnia, one can write a passable blog entry on a glass of water.
Or so I think.