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I have been thirsty, in the way it is often used, as wanting to “wet one’s whistle” so to speak; however, I have been truly thirsty, as in “dying for want of water” twice in my life.  I will admit that I might not have been truly dying, but suicide, by whatever means, seemed like a better alternative than just roaming around looking for something to drink besides my own urine – which actually started to feel like another alternative, in case I failed in my suicide attempt.

If any of you have been in dire need of something to drink, you will know and understand that nothing in the world could possibly match the taste of water – just plain old water, whatever temperature – when you are truly thirsty.  Even with an ordinary, everyday thirst to satisfy the need for hydration following strenuous activity, or an overlong stay in the sun, nothing matches water – maybe from your garden hose – remember those days as a kid?  There was nothing like it.

Herewith my two true thirst stories:

While in college, our Concert Choir (University of Connecticut) was one of five US college choirs invited to attend a two-week symposium on 20th century choral music that took place in Vienna, Austria.  Each choir gave its own concert over the course of the two weeks; and each at a different cathedral or chapel within that beautiful city.  Our concert was at the Piaristenkirche, a fascinating structure, and about as Rococo as Rococo can be! 

While on our way, the choir took a tour of Eastern Europe, including East Germany (yes – way back when – 1971, to be exact!), a three-day stay in West Berlin, and several days’ touring in Czechoslovakia (back when it was one country, and shortly after its citizens’ “uprising,” in protest of the Soviet Union’s repression, had taken place.  We were fortunate to have been allowed to enter.  Prague remains my favorite city in all the world.) In order to get to West Berlin, where we stayed briefly before our stay in Czechoslovakia, we had to ride the “corridor” train that ran through East Germany.  It was a pullman-type train, as the trip required a night on board. There were six bunks per compartment – small compartments, and little breathing room between the “upper” and the ceiling, and between each of the two “lowers” on each side.  There was an aisle between the two sides just large enough for one person to squeeze through.  In other words, the East German-operated rail system was very Spartan in its accommodations.  There were a few toilet rooms on board, which included small sinks in them.  The sinks had written above them, very prominently, a sign in four languages (German, English, French, and Russian), with a “Danger” icon, that said “Water is Non-potable.  Do not drink.”  We got the feeling that if we drank it, we were subject to all sorts of diseases, or poisoning.  None of us knew what made the water undrinkable, or where it came from, and even though we tried to find out from the conductors on the train, answers were not given.  None of us drank it; we even hesitated to wash our hands with it!  So – 36 hours on a train (non-stop – at least for us – we were not allowed to disembark from the train during the fueling stops), and one can get thirsty.  We had not been prepared for this possibility before getting on the train, because who knew or would have even suspected such a condition would exist?

There were two vending machines on the train, from which at the cost of several East German Marks could buy a (small) bottle of seltzer water. Or you had the choice of a delicious bottle of what we called “Commie Cola,” the USSR’s version of Coke or Pepsi.  There were only 4 bottles of the CC remaining on the train when we got on.  Those of us who got a tiny sip (after we started getting thirsty, the bottles were passed around amid the 35 of us on tour), deeply regretted it.  It was the vilest tasting thing I have ever put in my mouth, and while I did not “toss my cookies” over the taste, several did.  The reason we did not all avail ourselves  of the 4 bottles of seltzer first was because they were purchased before most of us realized it was needed or available, and those who purchased them, not realizing that there would be no more in the machines to replace them, drank them. Thirst started to overtake us in a manner that I had not to that date ever experienced, and has never again been equalled.  This was during the month of August. It was HOT. Our lips started to stick to our teeth, our throats dried out to the point of barely being able to speak, much less rehearse for our coming concert in West Berlin.  We arrived at our hotel in WB around 9 a.m.  The hotel was quite nice, and we were all probably a bit hungry, but more than anything we were thirsty.  When we sat at the table in the hotel’s dining room, each place setting was supplied with a small water-glass which would hold about 6 ounces – more like a juice glass, really.  There were three pitchers of water on the large table at which all 35 of us were seated.  As the pitchers were emptied over and over again, the servers, who were quite efficient and courteous, finally figured out our problem, and brought out a pitcher for every two people, and larger glasses.  As I recall, those pitchers were refilled dozens of times, and we each probably drank at least a gallon.  If I am exaggerating, I stress that I am only exaggerating a very little.  But, I will add, in conclusion of this story, that never again in my life has water tasted as good, as sweet, and as satisfying as the water we were served that morning in West Berlin.

My other experience of what I call true thirst happened here in the good old USA.  We lived in upstate New york, and Joshua, our eldest, was an 8-month-old infant.  I breastfed both of the sons to which I gave birth for just over a year.  Josh was at a very demanding feeding stage, and took in a lot of nourishment at each feeding, having just indicated a desire for solid food, so almost all of his nourishment was from me.  Hubs and I were travelling home from a trip somewhere, long enough that required two feedings for Josh, which I did in the car as we drove along (probably not the safest thing to do, but something most people did, because the dangers of belting yourself in while holding your baby were not as well-known then).  At our last refueling stop, I had neglected to get myself something to drink, and about an hour after that stop, I began to get thirsty.  I told Ashley that we needed to stop and get something to drink.  Not only were we hot and tired, but my own body’s liquid resources were being dried up by Josh.  Ashley said we would stop as soon as we could (we were both anxious to get home), but I nevertheless would point out what seemed to me dozens of places we could stop that Hubs just sailed by.  In retrospect, I realize I must not have made my need clear enough to him and/or he simply did not understand the severity of my thirst.  By the time we finally stopped, Hubs had to get out of the car and get me some water, because I was too weak to walk into the convenience store.  The experience was awful, and although not as severe as my first episode of real thirst, it certainly brought it to my mind, which sort of added to my feelings of panic at the time.  Again, the water I finally got to drink was wonderful, delicious, and sweet.  There is truly nothing like water when one is really thirsty.

Since “Water” is the photo theme for the current week, I close this post with two photos of Justin – who was featured recently in his own post.  One of Justin’s curious habits is that he does not drink water by lapping it up (except only occasionally), but by dipping his paws in the water bowl, and licking the water off of them.  Apparently, one day both he and Princess, our dog, had consumed a great deal of water (it’s in a big bowl that they both share), and we had neglected to check the bowl to make sure they had enough.  The bowl had gotten bone dry.  Justin let us know, in no uncertain terms, that he was thirsty.  I managed to get a couple of photos of him before Ashley got the bowl filled.  Below are those photos of Justin, requesting water.  He did, at last, get enough. . .

 
 
 
 

Why aren't my feet wet? Could I please get some water in here?

Do I have to ask again? L'eau, s'il vous plait? ¿Agua, por favor? Wasser, bitte? W-A-T-E-R!!!