The Water Book. Jalam and Savita’s Big Voyage, By Emanuele Scanziani & Sandrine Denier, Published by Auroville Coastal – area Development Centre (ACDC), Copyright: Auroville Water Harvest, First Edition: 2008, p. 82, available in English and Tamil
The book has been written under the umbrella of Auroville Water Harvest (AWH), which was a Public Service Unit with non-profit status and is Registered under the Auroville Foundation as a division of a Trust for the Centre of Scientific Research (CSR). It does not exist anymore, but it was an important and successful step in collaboration in the bio-region between Auroville and the nearby villages. AWH believed the environmental, social, technical and economic challenges are all interconnected. In the year 2014 the Auroville Centre for Scientific Research (CSR) together with Auroville’s unit Water Harvest organized a three-day seminar on sustainable water resource management, where Auroville’s role in solving the water problem in the region through the integrated water management system has been appreciated and recognized. Auroville is in fact renowned for its successful reforestation work, for rainwater harvesting, for the construction of check – dams and for programs of tank rehabilitation in the Auroville bio-region. However as Gilles Boulicot, the Executive of Water Harvest said, “The efforts conducted so far have not altered the trend of groundwater degradation. Auroville depends on the bioregion for its water management and a large part of this area is under immediate risk of a major environmental crisis. Around Auroville, most of the runoff still flows into the sea, the area is subject to rampant pollution and the general environmental degradation is heavy.” He particularly stressed the dangers of increasing groundwater salinity by seawater intrusion due to indiscriminate over-extraction.”
The book written way back in 2008 highlights these issues related to water in the environmental, social, technical and economic contexts and it tries to connect to the life force in us and around us. The book does not talk about water as resources but as an element. Because of our way of treating water as a resource, it has lost the life force in it, or is slowly loosing it in places. Auroville in practice recognizes the life force in water through biodynamizing it. The biodynamized water, which is also called >living< or >restructured< water, stimulates our body’s hydration and revitalization. This water is bio compatible with the water in our bodies called biological water. It helps us to develop and preserve our well-being, health and vitality. This is the primary thought that stimulates the writing of The Water Book, where the technical concepts come from Gilles Boulicot, illustration by Emanuele Scanziani, and the book is scripted by Sandrine Denier.
In this era of great global ecological imbalance as we see the disconnect between the human and the nature; excessive and overuse of natural resources, including water, and there is a deep down feeling in general that the things have gone wrong, the book tries to rebuild the lost relations between the human and the water through the time and space. The book takes the reader on a “magical voyage”, and during this voyage >>a strong and everlasting friendship develops<< between a girl Savita, from a village in India, and a lovely form of the spirit of Water: Jalam. Jalam takes her and her friend Sindu through the magical and complex journey of this essential element of the Earth, Water. He shows to them its many wonders, explains scientific facts and new discoveries as well the mismanagement done by humans and how to restore the Harmony of the Water cycle.
The book is written in first person; the main protagonist of the story Savita, narrates the story, however the book has incorporated other forms of communication as well: like dialogues (between Savita and Jalam, Savita and Sindhu etc.) which are circled and certain expressions and feelings are put down in big and bold fonts. The text is also accompanied by the illustrations and that helps the reader to understand the different dimensions, facts and discoveries about Water. The illustrations correspond to the content of the book and parallel they also give a glimpse about the life in a village in India, for instance, through the illustration of >clay pot< >local tap< >cows by the pond< >temple with pond< etc. The illustrations also help in understanding the secrets of the water spirit. If for the readers the concepts of >>atoms<< and >>molecules<< are not easy to grasp in words, the illustration comes in help. However I do not see it as shortcoming of the text. It is simply to point out that the scientific concepts become easier to grasp because of the illustration.
It is a children book, though the age – specification is not mentioned in the book, Hence it can be picked by any child, big or small, young or old, if one would like to >>become magical like Jalam<<. Though, for a very young reader, the book is bit lengthy. But then of course it touches upon the various aspects of water. It is The Water Book, not the water story.