Pump buzz !

The fingers punching the keyboard punctuates the still early morning air. In a distance the the ‘plonk’ of newspapers being thrown a.k.a delivered at the doorstep is just about the only sound.

In some time there are the others. Like the auto driver revving his engine. And the bus driver seeming to practice to race in Formula 1. All of them contribute to doing their two bit to the Mumbai air. The odd dog barks.

And some birds chirp. Half heartedly. Half in fear, perhaps. Of some wisecrack setting off a Diwali cracker. At 5.30 in the morning, he has to be a wisecrack. Maybe something worse.

The mind wanders to the smaller towns and quieter villages. Occasionally yearning. The sounds of small town mornings are getting to be mirror the big cities.

However, the one sound that’s missed,that used to be so much a part of the wonder years, is the buzz around the ‘hand pump’. The pump still survives, and is very much in use. In many parts of the country.

It goes by the name of ‘Adi-pump’ ( loosely translated to convey : ‘The pump that you have to hit’). People gathered around it, taking turns to pump that long straight handle, up and down. Out would flow water.

Well, water was the obvious reason. Yet, the buzz about the pump was unmistakable. For it was the point of convergence. Of men. Women. Children. Worries. Desires. Jealousies. Love.

And all that went within the whorls of the human brain. Everything was on display. Something like the military showing off its ware at a Republic Day parade. The hand pump being a completely unrehearsed natural event !

Exchanged glances, the extra puffed chest, the ‘help’ of pumping an extra pot-full for the girl. The wail of the complaining wife. The empty boast of the loud husband. Family economics. National economics. Politics. Movies.

The shrill cry of laughter. The sharp spank. Drunk men. Loud women. Washing. The quiet ones. The shy ones. The cleanliness freaks. Gossip. Teasing. Preaching. Repartees. Kindness. Despair. Bonding.

Several strands of society converging. All pumping. When their turn came.

It used to be magical. Almost as though, the buzz was in the water that came out. And so, the metal clang used to be the wake up call. An interesting wake up call. The house needed the water. But more importantly, the local news came through the hand pump !

Some years earlier, the hand pump having an artistic arched handle was more common. Like this.

That’s the journey. It seems. First things are straightened out. And then, they are replaced. These days, there is electricity. Motor pumps. And a battalion to keep the arm at the end of the hand, from going beyond making the odd noise at the keyboard.

To all those that talk about the buzz in the community gone. Or cry shrill about our panting news anchors on TV, and the ‘awesome’ editorial content of newspapers. And to those that hit the snooze button of the alarm clock…

Perhaps its time to try the hand pump !

Oh yes. The water. That’s a bonus.

19 thoughts on “Pump buzz !

  1. Neha says:

    In Umbergaon where I used to stay earlier, there was a common well near my house…so I never heard the hand-pump sound, but the sound of the water after the bucket is pulled out,a bit of water falling back inside the well while being pulled up by the ladies, their children crying as they had to get up early to accompany their mother because they can’t be left alone at home, nobody home as the male members were fishermen, so they traveled most of the time…

    lucky u, at least u get to hear few birds chirping, yaha pe only vehicles all the time, and traffic and honking…

    now back to ur post after going off the track completely, awesome write up…the way u connect events is impossible for me to even imagine…thank u..

    I guess, so many news channels these days running 24×7, the reason maybe the missing adi-pump na, as no more discussions of the news around 🙂

    sorry for the long comment..way too long actually, but don’t have the heart to delete the faltu stuff that I have written with so much of mehnat 🙂

  2. RGB says:

    Hi Kavi, lovely post on a simple subject – a hand pump. I guess, you can’t call it simple anymore, bcoz it’s turning more into a relic now. Though, we’re moving with the times, some things remain fresh in our memories, and like you rightly said, in some places, where time seems to stand still, they remain in common use!

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  4. Swatantra says:

    Nice post, Nice pictures!! My nani house we had a handpump and all of my cousins use to have great fun around it filling buckets with water one by one.. I had almost forgotten this and your post reminded me of those days.. Thanks for sharing!!

  5. Anil P says:

    What would Indian rural landscapes be like without these hand pumps. I’ve spent many an hour coaxing water from them.

  6. Well covered the changes of hand pumps!! With time the shapes of hand pumps have also changed and so has their been more scarcity of water!!

  7. Lou says:

    You have turned the hand pump into an analogy for our impersonal, internet society.

    Nice writing! It evoked a lot of feelings.

  8. Rush says:

    i wouldnt resonate much with the hand pump, however not just keeping it to the pump…yes, i feel somewhere down the line, we are going back to greener ways of doing things and i feel, there cudnt be a better example.
    our urge to modernise, innovation at the expense of killing our own resources..seems like we astrayed way off…lets go back to basics!!

  9. Onkar says:

    An excellent write-up on an unusual topic. It vividly brings to the surface memories long forgotten.

  10. sujata says:

    lovely description. I loved the morning described by you. The handpump is still a very common sight in Calcutta. Almost every corner you will find one, though rusted and in disrepair. The b & W pics are great!

  11. Jeevan says:

    Oh! It was one of my wakeup call too sometimes back. We had a hand pump in front of our home and even at mid night people used to make sound of it and everyone of us have a turn to pump. Interesting point and views here!
    and also it was a great exercise that reduced today.

  12. Aparna says:

    At one time, every house in Calcutta had a hand pump. We called it tube well. It would take the prime place in the house court yard. The area around it would always be wet and slippery and the kids had fun pumping and taking a bath under it. It was quite difficult, the trick was to pump the handle and sit under the tap quickly. I also remember the buckets we used, they were iron ones and quite rusty. Some even had holes. Have we come a long way or were we more environmental friendly?

  13. G says:

    Hey! Long time no hear. All ok?

  14. Aleta says:

    I guess that’s why companies have water coolers ~ the water cooler gossip, to bring us all together. My grandmother has a water well on her property. She’s the only one to use it. When we visit, I love to see it. Somehow I find it very charming. Thoroughly enjoyed your post!

  15. Nachi says:

    wonderful post brother!! i totally love the first picture…

    …first we straighten things out and then replace them…

    food for thought indeed!! 😀

  16. That’s a very nostalgic take on the handpump. We are so content in the strands of complacency we have built around ourselves that we often forget what we are missing. The chirp of a bird. A gossipy old lady. Or as u pointed out, the scene at the handpump.
    Wonderfully penned! 🙂

  17. Kavi says:

    Neha : Well Umbergaon seems like the places where we grew up ! The well and everything is so nostalgic!

    Yes. Indeed i hear the birds chirping ! And please feel free to state anything at any length here. They say, feedback must be accepted with a ‘begging bowl’ !

    Thanks for all the compliment …! 🙂

    Swatantra : Thank you ! And am glad that this post brought to the fore long lost memories !

    Anil : It has been going towards the rural hinterland. At one point in time, they dotted the city scapes too !

    NR : Perhaps its because of the absence of these pumps that there is so much of scarcity. People dont know the effort to pump out the water !

    Lou : You got that bang on. It is a metaphor for how things used to be !! 🙂

    Rush : Yes. I knew i have your support on going back to the basics. With projects like that of Tulsi…well, it is indeed tended towards the basic !

    Onkar : Thank you ! Am glad the memories came back…

    Sujata : I guess their rusted state of disrepair is part of the city milieu these days..! Like our apathy for water conservation..

    Jeevan : We seem to have a shared past mate ! Atleast on the wake up call part ! 🙂

    Aparna : There is no question. We were a 100 times more environment friendly. For water that had to pumped, was valued. Well. Enough. And truly.

    When water is pumped through electricity, a few drops trickling away…is well…normal ! Sigh !

    G : Thanks So much for asking ! Yes. All ok. Except for some intense work. And travel. All else is just about ok ! Thanks again !

    Aleta : Thats an interesting point. Water cooler analogies are indeed cool !

    Nachi : Some food for thought indeed !!! 😀

    Destiny’s Child : Thank you ! And yes..what you describe so well are the things that we miss ! Precisely !


  18. When we went to Kolkata this year, I showed my son how to hand crank one…needless to say, we attracted quite a few people who giggled and probably called us ‘saala NRIs’ behind our backs!!

  19. ♥ Braja says:

    I also have several images of pumps and loved this post….

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