The late novelist David Foster Wallace, in his now-famous graduate commencement speech, narrates the following story: “There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, “Morning, boys, how’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, “What the hell is water?””
This parable could apply equally to us – city-dwellers. If ever there was a thing we took for granted it would be water. Our connection to this precious commodity, our awareness of it, begins and ends at the mouths of the taps in our homes and workplaces. We know little of the impossible journeys it makes to get there – Where does it come from? How far does it travel? What happens to it along the way? It is only when our taps run dry that we reflect on these questions. It is only then that we wonder about the other lives that are touched by
the water we finally use.
This volume of CC is about these other lives, lives whose connections to fresh water are more direct, more immediate, than ours. In an entirely unplanned way, many of the pieces in the issue are about conflict (maybe a reflection of the precarious state of our freshwater resources): between aboriginals and river ecologists in Australia, between the state and fisherfolk in Assam, among multiple stakeholders along the Ganges in north India. But there are bright sides to this volume as well: a photo-essay on the creatures of the Agumbe monsoon, a piece on the bizarre natural history of axolotls, and an interview about a unique fish count conducted in Vembanad every year.
We hope you enjoy this issue of CC. It is best consumed with a tall, refreshing glass of water.
Issue Editor: Hari Sridhar