Thursday, January 6, 2011


It was mid-afternoon when I reached the town of Teelac which turned out to be  a small rural centre with clean streets and attractive buildings at its CBD. The school appears to be freshly painted and the sports ground was currently being used by a group of athletic youths, obviously training for their weekend’s football match. The road through the town was paved with attractive bricks, giving everything a homely atmosphere.

Driving through this pleasant location, I was impressed by a well-kept war memorial with surrounding green lawn. There were inviting park benches everywhere as a sign that this place was making every effort to ensure  visitors feel welcome. At the other end of the town, a newly-built motel offered the latest comforts. Its clean brick walls seemed to glow in the afternoon sun and, turning into the drive way, the big gate seemed to smile a welcome to the tired traveller. ‘Yes,’ I decided, this would be my abode for the night!
All I needed was to book my room, transfer my cases into it and then visit my contact in the town before calling it a day.

‘Good afternoon Sir!’ A friendly voice behind the reception counter greeted me and a pleasant face smiled a welcome. Having been given the room key after the paper formalities I thanked her and turned to leave.
‘Have a pleasant stay, Sir!’ Her voice was soothing.
‘Thank you very much, I think I will. This is a very nice place!’ I could only confirm.

‘We are now four weeks open!’ She explained. ‘By the way, I have placed a jug of rainwater in your room!’

‘Many thanks,’ I replied routinely, wondering what that was all about. ‘What do I do with a jug of rainwater?’ I wondered.

‘No problem, you can have another one if you wish! Just pick up the phone in your room’

‘Amazing,’ I thought. ‘What’s with the jugs of rainwater? Are there special qualities in the town’s rainwater?’ I wondered. Do women wash their hair in it? Does it have rejuvenating qualities? Since I didn’t want to ask a silly question, I tried to think of the solution myself.

Walking into my room, which was very modern and extremely comfortable, I switched-on the air-conditioner to full blast. On the table stood the aforementioned jug of rainwater with two inviting drinking glasses beside it. Staring through the glass jug at the water, it appeared no different than other water. Puzzled by all this, I started to lay out my paperwork on the little desk for making my report and checking my orders before passing them on to my office.

‘But first, I must have my cup of coffee!’ Automatically, I got up and tried to fill the electric jug from the tap, only to recoil in horror as a dirty brown liquid came gushing out of it; a kind of disgusting broth that turned my stomach.  

‘What is this?’ I gasped. Regaining my composure, I remembered that I had been in situations before where I could wash and shower in the local water but not drinking it. I certainly had never seen water that bad! And suddenly I felt a gratitude for the local burghers of this town who tried to live with this situation somehow. They certainly went out of their way to help visitors cope with this  shortcoming.

Gratefully, I helped myself to the rainwater in the jug and the cup of coffee turned out to be great. Soon I was engrossed in my paperwork, sorting out the results of my day’s work before visiting my first appointment in this drought-stricken town.

Peter Frederick 

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