Water

Posted on August 28, 2011 by

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I come from New York City – a place widely renowned for having delicious, clean, healthy tap water. I remember visiting relatives in New Jersey, Florida, and even Long Island, and having them tell me that we couldn’t drink the tap water, because it was brown, or disgusting, or just unsafe. I was astonished that these places could not manage something as basic as drinking water and this contributed to my perception of the entire world outside NYC as consisting of one huge, barbaric backwater filled with hopeless masses who, due to personal failings or simple mischance, just could not make it in New York.

In school we studied the process of making NYC tap water clean and delicious – the use of filtration, chlorination, fluoridation, and aeration – although we never talked about where the water came from. As it turns out, NYC water mostly comes from the mountains to the north of NYC, and can literally just flow down (through aqueducts) to the city from the higher elevations. It’s incredibly lucky that NYC sits just below a huge and renewable source of fresh water.

I have always been keen on pointing out the similarities between Georgia and New York, and this is another case where my current home is much like my former home. Georgia has tons of fresh, clean water, and is renowned for its natural springs as well as its fresh mountain rivers. Of course lowland rivers like the Mtkvari are muddy and gross, but once you get up into the mountains they’re absolutely fabulous.

I haven’t had any significant problems drinking Tbilisi tap water, although during my week in Kutaisi I heeded advice to stick to the bottled stuff. It was there, during my TLG orientation, that I fell in love with Nabeghlavi. I have been told that Nabeghlavi used to be natural and now contains additives, but regardless of the truth of the matter, I find it delicious and an excellent salve for hangovers and various other ailments.

Both times that I’ve visited America I’ve brought Nabeghlavi with me. I can’t imagine going two or three weeks without drinking it. In a pinch I’ll drink Likani, and I actually do like Borjomi and Sairme, but I’m passionate about Nabeghlavi.

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The Georgian people have strange ideas about water. I’ve been told that drinking still water is bad for you, and I’ve been told that drinking water when it is hot outside is bad for you, and to the best of my knowledge both of these statements are not only false, but dangerously so. My friend had to be hospitalized for dehydration because her host family refused her water when she was ill, perhaps thinking that her requests for just plain water were a sign of delirium rather than a perfectly reasonable desire for hydration.

At Buckswood I led a Bikram Yoga club during third stream. It was nice and hot – nearly ideal for Bikram – and I made sure the kids all brought water with them. I demanded that they have at least a liter – knowing that in a real Bikram session, a liter is often not nearly enough – and during the actual classes I would pause and make the students all take drinks.

During one of the student performances, they did skits making fun of the Activity Leaders, and the one about me involved me having students drag these giant, 50 liter water jugs to a yoga lesson. I loved that skit, and here’s why: if there’s anything I want to impress upon my students – anything I want them to remember me for – it’s the importance of good hydration.

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