About a month ago I was in Manila for work, and also had a weekend for sightseeing there. While it was a great, shocking, and eye-opening experience, in some ways it also reminded me of my own childhood. Our situation back then was not as bad as some places I saw in Manila, but still… That weekend brought up so much deep emotions…
You might already know that I was born in a small town in Hungary – in the middle of the “Alföld” (“Low Land” – which is funny, because now we live in the Netherlands, which also translates to “Low Lands” 🙂 )
My parents’ house was the very last one on the very last street of the village. Moreover, it had a gap between our house and the next one – which was about 150 meters away. We literally lived in the middle of agricultural fields. Some years these fields had corns, then wheat, and then sunflowers…
As a child, it was fun to play hide-and-seek in those fields, and see the farmers and their horse carts all around. Sometimes they let us sit on the cart, or even better on the horses – that was the best!
However, this life also had challenges, of course.
For example, even today, the road to the house still doesn’t have asphalt or stone pavement. When it rains – it’s all mud. When it’s fresh and wet and watery, it’s ok, you can walk or even bike in the mud because it’s slippery rather than sticky. But later, when the rain stops the mud gets more and more sticky, and then you’re in trouble…
(Yes, everyone has “secret skills”. One of mine is how to bike (or not to bike) in various types of mud.)
But we also had other challenges with water…
Our house was built a few years before I was born, but since it was out of the town, getting utilities was extremely hard there.
We had electricity, but I still remember that, in the first years of my life, we had no water in the house at all.
We (or rather, my parents) had to collect water from the neighbor house – which again, was not too far per se, but bringing water from there for everything every single day must have been daunting!
I was still very young, so collecting water was not my responsibility (except just for fun, sometimes), but it impacted my life indeed. Even later, when we finally got tap water, we needed to be VERY conscious about our water consumption. We had very strict rules (set by my parents) for taking a shower/bath, brushing our theeth, dishwashing, … everything.
Most probably most of you cannot even imagine…
Luckily, I’m in a much different situation now. We have everything we need, even more. My children don’t really know what this kind of scarcity means. And I truly hope they’ll never have to experience that.
However, one little thing is still with me: taking a long hot shower (with good quality shower gel!) is my everyday luxury.
While having clean water is absolutely natural for most of us in Europe (and most of my network all around the world), I know not everyone is this lucky. Believe me, I know the feeling very well. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to take clean (and hot) water granted. Being able to take a hot shower shows me how lucky I am. Every. Single. Day.
Granted? Scarcity? Abundance? Luxury? – The very same thing can mean so different things to us!
My thing is water.
What is yours?