‘Designer’ is the ‘in’ word these days. We have graduated from designer clothes to designer jewellery, from designer furniture to designer homes. And the latest to hit the shelves of ‘designer’ malls, is DESIGNER WATER! I recently read about Canaqua, bottled water selling at fancy ‘designer’ rates. You are not going to believe this! A 475 ml bottle of Canaqua costs 10 Dirhams (Rs. 110)in <?XML:NAMESPACE PREFIX = ST1 /><ST1:CITY><ST1LACE>Dubai</ST1LACE></ST1:CITY>…! Wait! The joke is not over yet! The same bottle costs 3 Pounds in <ST1:CITY><ST1LACE>London</ST1LACE></ST1:CITY> (ie- Dhs 20), 6 Euros in <ST1:COUNTRY-REGION><ST1LACE>France</ST1LACE></ST1:COUNTRY-REGION>( Dhs 28), 4 Euros in <ST1:COUNTRY-REGION><ST1LACE>Italy</ST1LACE></ST1:COUNTRY-REGION> ( Dhs 18) and 7 Yen in <ST1:COUNTRY-REGION><ST1LACE>Japan</ST1LACE></ST1:COUNTRY-REGION> ( Dhs 26)! I must warn all those designer clad jet setters of the UAE to carry their own Canaquas when they travel to these places… Or the poor dears (pun not intended) will be fleeced! Well, the founder/ owner of Canaqua, Linda Samis, may get annoyed by my cynicism. She claims that the water is from an underground aquifer spring located in the mountains of <ST1:STATE><ST1LACE>British Columbia</ST1LACE></ST1:STATE> in <ST1:COUNTRY-REGION><ST1LACE>Canada</ST1LACE></ST1:COUNTRY-REGION>, around 1200 ft above sea level! And it is also claimed that it is untouched by air or any living thing (! ) and is hydraulically pumped up 180 ft to be bottled (by non –living things?) This reminds me of a story I have read in the ‘Aithihyamala’, a collection of legendary tales of people, places and events of ancient <ST1LACE>South India</ST1LACE>. There was this Brahmin who was suffering from severe stomach ache, who approached a famous vaidyan (physician). ‘You must have a dose of python fat for a month to get cured,’ said the vaidyan to the extremely religious and vegetarian Brahmin. ‘Impossible!’ said the man and walked away dejected. He could not bear to think of violating his dharma by giving up his sacred vegetarianism. Realizing that he would die soon, he went to a near by temple and sat there, dejected. A stranger who was seated nearby asked him why he looked so sad and the man told him of his plight. ‘Well! Anyway you are going to die, so why don’t you stay at this temple for 41 days and worship God? You should go to the waterfalls in the forest behind this temple, have your bath and drink three handfuls of water from the fall. Then you offer your prayers at the temple. Thinking that he had nothing to lose, the man started doing that. Within a month, he felt better and after 41 days he was fit as a fiddle. He decided to meet the vaidyan and tell him how wrong he had been with his diagnosis. The vaidyan would not believe him and asked the man to show what he had done to cure himself. He accompanied the man to the waterfall and started looking around. When he climbed the mountain side from where water thundered down, he saw the remains of a huge, dead and decayed python hanging on a rock. He showed his ‘would –have –been’ patient the snake and smiled. ‘I wanted you to have python fat for 30 days, you have taken it for 41. Well, in the long run it will do you good!!” What I mean is, isn’t it a tall claim (1200 ft above sea level!) to say that our designer water under discussion is untouched by ‘air or any living thing’? Some living thing must have touched that water…at some point of time. What about the hydraulic pump that draws the water up? Wasn’t that installed by ‘living things’?…Doesn’t the said pump need regular maintenance…rendered by living things? Well… that is food …er… no…water for thought! And coming right back to our bottle of water that costs Dhs 10, for 475ml… 475 ml? Why not 500 ml? What will the price be for 500ml then? 1000 fils divided by 475 ml multiplied by .25ml, added to Dhs10… Or is it…? Ooh! Readers who know my mathematical prowess will no doubt, sympathise with me…This is as agonizing as R. K. Narayan’s Swami’s plight…while calculating the cost of mangoes! Anyway, who will notice there is 25 ml less in the bottle than what you expect in an average small bottle of water? As it is, people don’t finish their bottles of mineral water and, generally leave behind unfinished bottles in restaurants and picnic spots… We, of the designer generation, have no value for money! So what if there are nations trying frantically to wet millions of parched throats, or are embarking on the Herculean task of connecting all the rivers within its boundaries… Ours not to reason why… Ours but to buy and try… and waste. Sad, but disastrously and scandalously true!