Our main drain was blocked. It was an old clay pipe and it broke and we didn’t know. It had been blocked for a while causing the sinks and toilet and dishwasher and bathtub to drain very slowly. My response to this was to flush an obscene amount of water down the drains in an attempt to clear some blockage. Bad idea. Then, when emptying the bathtub during a torrential downpour brought water up through the drain in the basement, we finally called a plumber. It was not an easy fix:
For several days these guys dug a 13-foot hole in our front yard to get to the broken section of pipe. In the meantime we had to try not to send any water down the drain since it would only seep out into the growing hole. The timing was impeccable: my in-laws were visiting from Sri Lanka and my own mother arrived for a visit bringing the population of our four-person house up to seven for the duration of the plumbing problem.
I felt some mild panic. Then I rallied: it’s like camping. I love camping! I can use very little water. I can bathe my children in a bucket (or, you know, not bathe them). I can wash dishes in an inch of water and pour the dishwater on the garden instead of letting it go down the drain. My mom and I talked ourselves into the fun of camping at home and making do and getting by. We filled a bunch of pots and jugs for when the supply had to be turned off. We put basins in both the sinks and a bucket in the shower so we could carry used water out and pour it directly down the sewer. I did laundry at the neighbour’s.
As for my in-laws, this is how they handled the crisis:
Me: “Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. We can’t pour water down the drain until the pipe is fixed. It’s going to take a few days.”
Didn’t faze them a bit. Infrastructure in their neighbourhood in Colombo isn’t hidden away. There are visible drains that take water out of the houses. There are tanks on top of the roofs that hold reserve water for when the municipal supply wavers. They turn the pump on to fill the tank and turn it off again when it’s full.
The Canadian-born folks in the house had to pause and think about where the water comes from and where it goes and how to cope when the circuit is broken. For the Sri Lankans? No biggie.