Monday, March 18, 2013

Kerala: Pour Bath

Monsoon is supposed to arrive in Kerala in June. The sky is rent apart and the rains pound down on the parched earth that has been crying with increasing urgency for relief.

Last June, there was no rain. None.

As a result, this year, old city water pipes are bursting, causing what little water there is to be wasted on the streets; wells are at all-time low levels and water pump motors are being destroyed by overuse. 

Thus when you are a guest in someone's house in Kerala you're very conscious of wasting water and power. You drink ALL the water in your glass ... turn off lights, fans, air conditioning ... open the doors in the early morning to let in the cooler air and keep them tightly shut for the long afternoon's stultifying heat.

So when it's time to have a bath, you try to do what you can to keep water consumption down to a bare minimum. Dad had told us over the years how he used to do it when he travelled the dusty, dry Kerala villages in the summers. Perhaps he would have a straw mat as a shower curtain around him; perhaps there would be an old sari; perhaps there would just be giggling children! Here's how we did it in complete comfort. They're called pour baths ...

Two taps fill up the water bucket - hot is from the geyser

Gather your stuff, including the pouring dubba ...
Wet your hair by holding your head over the pail and
pouring water over it with the dubba. Shampoo.
You won't have to rinse and repeat.

Scoop a little water in the dubba so that all the water
in the bucket doesn't get soapy when you're scrubbing!
You might have to add a little more water
to the bucket if you're running low as you rinse off ...
Rinse shampoo out of hair directly onto the floor
with a couple of dubbas of water. Apply conditioner.
Head massage time!
Rinse the conditioner out of your hair
for two minutes under the cold water tap

When you're finished, squeegee the floor
so that the next person has a dry surface!

I could have a wonderful, refreshing bath with 1 to 1 1/2 pails of water plus a couple of minutes under the cold water tap.

And what a water conservation plan!


  1. I remember those baths well - very hygenic, and you learn to pour long, slim, shining streams of water to cover an arm's length with little waste. ... The cold water rinse is the problem, though! How do you get out the conditioner? So sorry to hear about NO rain last June. Horrific. Will be praying for a great monsoon this year.

  2. OMG Karyn...perfect description of our baths in India!!...and I love the Wipers to dry the floor...I sO wish we had something like that rained a bit too much in central India two days ago when it's not suppose to rain....hope and pray for a good monsoon in Kerala this year..

  3. We will pray especially for rain for Kerala today at the Manor Bible Study and for all of you too. Wow Karyn, we sure do need to be reminded of how precious our water is!!

  4. Where exactly is this place in Kerala ?


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