There's a stainless steel tap outside NC Santhakumar´s house on Mundakanniamman Koil Street in Mylapore (Chennai, Bharat) connected to a can of drinking water inside, and a stainless steel tumbler chained to the tap marked "kudi neer" (drinking water). It's a makeshift drinking water fountain open to everyone 24 hours a day. "I know what it feels like to be thirsty and have no one give you water. I do not want anyone who comes to my street to be thirsty," says Santhakumar, 53, a diamond setter. "After all, water is God's gift to us. Why shouldn't we share it with everyone?" Santhakumar's wife S Shanta is responsible for making sure that the can is refilled as well as cleaned along with the tumbler every night. "On an average , we refill the can three times a day. In the summer, it's usually four," says Shanta. Santhakumar says he got the tap fixed because people who visited the Mundakanniamman Temple near his house used to knock at his door asking for water. "We never turned them away," he says. "And then, one day, my wife and I thought, why not keep a can outside so people can drink water anytime of day or night. We realised there must be people who are thirsty but too embarrassed to knock at a stranger's door." It's been five years since he started giving away "kudi neer" . Everyone on the street knows that this is the place to stop if you are thirsty."It is the same water that my family drinks," informs Santha. The couple is now working on improving their 'kudi neer' by giving people cold water in the summer and warm water during the rainy season.
Based on a report by Smt. Kamini Mathai in
THE TIMES OF INDIA, August 3, 2008.
Idea: Shri Raghuraman