Offbeat 15 July 2016
The water crisis has a bunch of bad implications for me, personally, but I am managing to save vast amounts. The trick of my water saving lies in the fact that I have a solar geyser, and it is mid winter. What this means is that there is very little UV radiation, so the water that comes out of the tap is barely warmer than the water bottle in the fridge. Personal hygiene has now been reduced to a kettle, a flannel cloth and the basin.
Laziness also helps. I only do the dishes or wash clothes when I really have to, so the sink and washing machine are rarely less than too full. My garden, needless to say, looks like the set of a Mad Max movie.
If there was a way to fry noodles or rice, instead of boiling them, I would do that as well. Unfortunately I am still not a big fan of potatoes, which need a lot less water than mealies and mahangu. On the bright side, I don’t eat either of those much, so there’s another bit of water saving.
Every little bit helps.
The thing that really frightens me is the small matter of beer. Beer is a bit like cucumber. It consists mostly of water, no matter how much you try to convince yourself that beer consists of beer. Cucumber, by the way, also consists mostly of water, not cucumber as you may believe.
According to some or other website, it takes about five liters of water to brew a generic beer. However, this excludes the water for growing the plants that are used to make beer, as well as a bunch of industrial processes that I don’t know anything about, nor bother to think about, when I am enjoying beer.
What this website does say is that the whole process of drinking a litre of beer (call that two English draughts, not the miserly 440 ml capitalist variants) can easily require more than 100 litres. How’s your maths? The current Windhoek allowance is about 90 litres per person per day. Deduct two beers from that and you get a sense of the impending catastrophe.
Given that beer is often regarded as a patriotic act, this may have political ramifications as well. The real elements of national character – the flag, braaivleis, moaning about the Braves and mild xenophobia – will seem somewhat hollow without a couple of beers bunch of beers to go with that.
I noticed that the price of beer has gone up again. Years ago it used to be a few of dollars. Now it’s somewhere between ouch and give me a shot of whisky instead. All of this is a bit of a party pooper, given that shots of whisky that I drink are scarcer than hen’s teeth, or at least a quarterly occurrence.
Of course I am assuming here that the price of beer is a function of water shortages. But it’s not. The price of imported beer is about in parity with the price of local beer. In the grand tradition of sophistry, the price of all beers available in Namibia has to be a function of the cost of transporting beer from South Africa. If the term ‘cartel pricing’ enters your mind, you have obviously spent too much on beer while you are reading this. Go to the back of the class until you sober up.
Also don’t think too hard about the term ‘commodity pricing’. That might lead to the idea that all the painstaking brand differentiation has been for nought. Cheers!
Beer is very much a part of my character. I don’t drink at home. At home I have my computer, and drunken driving behind the wheel of a computer is about as socially irresponsible as drunken driving behind the wheel of a car. Beer is at the place I go to when I need to escape the computer and its demands. It’s the place where I meet friends to babble. It’s also a great accompaniment for a book. In short, beer is the lubricant for quite a few of life’s great moments.
Drinking beer to save water is not an option. Drinking imported beer is a possibility, given that the South African import now tastes way better that it used to. Either way, the cost will be too high.
If you want a really sensible way to state your commitment to saving water, Uncle Offbeat recommends that you avoid cucumbers.