"Water water everywhere, not a drop to drink" is an oft-repeated quote whenever there is a person stranded in a life boat in an ocean. Sea-water is extremely salty. In Antarctica, the ice and snow are extremely pure, and tasteless, odourless and colorless unlike Delhi water. You can directly consume it without processing. However, to consume you have to first melt it into water. During 3-4 months of summer, things are easier since the frozen lakes melt into water when temperature tends to reach 0 degree C or above from an average of -15 or -20 C earlier. Even then it is not a mean task to transport or lift water from the lakes when you need bulk quantities for a group of 25-50 persons. We, at Maitri, have a pump station installed in the nearby lake to pump water inside the station. Hence water is a precious commodity. At each briefing whether in India or in Antarctica we are hammered repeatedly with the message of saving water and not wasting a precious commodity. For example, take bath once in 5 days, use washing machine in economy mode and only when there is a full load, wipe your dinner plate and other crockery with a tissue before cleaning with detergent and water etc. But when you use tissue to wipe the crockery, glassware etc, aren't you putting pressure on another precious source, that is, wood? For my love of Himalayas, I find use of unnecessary tissue papers as being a direct assault on the trees.
In Antarctica, I have perfected the art of washing my share of crockery and utensils with minimum of water and detergent. Rajasthan where there is perpetual scarcity of water, people use sand to clean utensils. I remember whenever we visited our maternal grandfather's place in Indore (Madhya Pradesh), the utensils were cleaned with fine ash. It was before the era of cooking gas and ash would be produced in abundance since food was cooked on traditional burners using wood or coke. New generation does not understand what ash is, they only know a certain Bollywood actress called Ash. During my Kailash Mansarovar expedition last year, I had perfected the art of taking bath with 2 mugs of cold water in freezing temperatures. Hot water was always in short supply. Antarctica is a luxury where we get 24-hour electricity and running hot water.