August 19, 2006

Sea Water Loses Its Salt

Filed under: India n Me,Most Read,Mumbai,opinions,Truth of India — Kaveeta Oberoi Kaul @ 5:35 pm
Tags: , , ,

Unbelievable as that may sound, if one is to go by the mass hysteria presently on at Mahim creek on the coast of Mumbai, then it is nothing short of a miracle that the thronging crowds claim, has occurred.

Last night at about 11.00p.m., close to the Dargah of Pir Maqdoom Shah, a revered Muslim saint believed to have lived around 300years ago, sea water lost its salinity. Word spread like wild fire and soon thousands congregated, bathing in the sea and drinking what they now claimed to be the blessings of the ‘Baba’.

Why is it that someone decided to test the salinity level of water that night, was a question that perplexed us. The governmental agencies have been there all morning, attempting to logicalise the so called miraculous event.

Experts have propounded various theories. One of which is that high level of rainfall might have reduced the level of salt. A theory which has not gone down well with the believers who aver that in this event, the whole coastline extending from Versova to Colaba should have been de-salinated. Why was it happeing directly in front of the holy shrine?

Another theory doing the rounds is that toxic content from the Mithi river close by had found its way into the sea and had chemically reduced the level of salt from 10000 ppm to 600. This revelation is not only plausible but extremely devastating especially coupled with the visual of men, women, chidren helping themselves to large intakes of the clearly muddy polluted water, filling it in bottles as a panacea for future illness and bringing back families for more.

The Muslims who have come here are of the firm belief that this was in fact a repeat occurrence that had taken place 26 years back, during this time. They consider it a validation of the power of their saint .

De-salinating a part of the sea is no mean task. The government has been attempting to do the same for almost three decades. While geologists are pooh-poohing the folly of reading spiritual context in what they consider a natural phenomenon of low density river water mixing with sea water, the believers with their faces gleaming at having experienced a miracle, have not lost thier enthusiasm or devotion.

Faith converted poison served to Mirabai into nectar. While those of us, entrenched in our cynincism and intellegence, ridicule this gullibility by naive residents as nothing short of an open armed invitation to disease, those revelling in the ‘holy’ sea water, without a care in the world are basking in the exemplification of what they consider one of the greatest moments of their life,

India lives on so many levels, it never fails to astound the observer. The same lot would perhaps not touch a glass of water in their homes without boiling it and yet they have no hesitation in bathing and consuming simultaneously, in the hope of what? Salvation? The hue and cry over colas and their toxicity seems hopelessly over dramatised in this context.

While the channels are issuing continuous warnings of the spread of typhoid, jaundice, and other diseases through what is analysed to be highly un potable water, crowds are unabatedly thronging the sea side.

How we thirst for miracles? Not realising that being alive was the greatest of them all.

Update: Valsad, in Gujarat, say residents has sampled sweet water from the sea as well.
Meanwhile the BMC has confirmed high levels of toxicity present in the water which the population is imbibing outbreak of epidemic is not far away. Although those who have been drinking it since last night have not reported health problems,consistently confirming their averments that this was indeed a miracle..

Heard of the ‘placebo effect’ ?


  1. no dearth of fools in India steeped in superstition.

    Comment by anonymous — August 20, 2006 @ 9:58 am | Reply

  2. police should have taken strict and prompt action in enforcing warnings issued. I believe they are doing it now..after almost 2 days..when it should have happenend earlier.the water is full of toxic waste for gods sake and new born children also were being made to drink it.its sometimes is another name for this a word? the kolis are saying that this is a regular occurrence in seasons when the fresh water springs erupt in the sea bed. How can that be mistaken for ‘karishma’..even in todays age such blind faith is surprising..also disgusting.

    Comment by neha — August 20, 2006 @ 12:00 pm | Reply

  3. Terribly disturbing Kaveetaa, to know so many have thronged to the dirty sea water, to gulp it’s billions of bacteria without forethought of impending disease.

    One might interest in writing an article on helicobacter pylori in India…and its inherent disabling, systemic damage to the digestive system.

    Gosh, if they only knew… well, if hundreds of ppl suddenly come down with stomach ulcers, etc. Urge testing of HPylori!!


    Comment by North — August 21, 2006 @ 5:49 pm | Reply

  4. To add to comments of kaveeta, some more questions , none of the experts have yet answered;
    1. why only the patch near the dargah lost its salinity
    2. Meethi river flows into Mahim creek at the end of Mahim causeway up north while sea did not lose salinity between that place and the dargah. If Meethi river bringing in fresh/rain water into Mahim creek, then the first place to lose salinity should be the place where the two join
    3. With 20/20 hindsight, did ANY of the warnings of infections etc materialise. NONE upto this hour.
    4. For people going along with “Natural Phenomena” reasoning – please try to trace even a single link of this happening geographically or historically. I have failed atleast on the internet.
    5. Ask people who are attributing natural phenomenon reason – how many parts per thousands of salinity will the sea lose with their reasoning – definitely NOT to extent of tens of thousands ….

    Comment by Khalid — August 21, 2006 @ 8:16 pm | Reply

  5. Now that quite a few days have elapsed, nort, one was awaiting news of some fallout or theother health wise from the thousands that consumed large quantities of that water. The municipal hospitals were on stand by as well. But you know what.. No news!!

    I cannot figure it out. Either in the battle between faith vs science, faith has won the first round. OR, since immunity levels of most Indians living in unhealthy environments is so developed, that it was as ineffectual as ‘water on a ducks back err stomach.. what other rationale can one ascribe it ?

    Comment by kaveetaakaul — August 22, 2006 @ 9:20 pm | Reply

  6. Khalid your post got diverted to spam. wordpress automatically marks out certain words.. so could be coz of email address..I just managed to retrieve it.

    My comment to North was posted earlier and more or less also addresses the same issues.

    Your questions are valid and merit answers..especially in the wake of the fact that no illness has been reported.

    Comment by kaveetaakaul — August 24, 2006 @ 1:39 pm | Reply

  7. To be honest, I am quite relieved, no pandemic of digestive ailments have been sparked!! There are so many! Kidney stones, ulcers, mysterious infections of no origin…

    When I was exposed to helicobacter pylori, my weeks of symptoms were of an ulcer. None was detected, except scar tissue from past ulcers.

    However, the symptoms increased with a vengeance. Sadly, it is possible the first initial treatment of antibiotics, sparked the feverish pitch of the bacteria… so high – 110% count… that it caused atrophy of the stomach within 7-9 months.

    My last significant symptoms were my stomach deflating with extreme spasmotic-like flutter, like air out of a balloon held in the hands.

    In my seven years with atrophic gastritis, I have yet, to learn how I was exposed. Due to childhood poverty, it is attributed to that, though my Mom(low count) and 4 siblings are negative. My son, negative. My exhusband negative.

    So, I have been trying to fight the stigma that it’s associated ONLY with poverty-related environments and homelessness; to possible, if not probable exposure was from a gastroscope, only 6 weeks prior to my first painful symptom of hp.

    Alas, another brick wall.. and to be truthful, I have dropped the torch to have exposure to hp from gastroscope, brought to light. I dropped it, in 2002; realizing, the medical society is much larger, than my circumstance; and it is my bitter truth, to learn how insignifanct human beings can be, against such a charter.

    What became a possibility, was merely swept under another rug. Believe me, I tried.


    Comment by North — August 24, 2006 @ 7:11 pm | Reply

  8. so sorry to read all of this North..At the risk of reiteration..would you consider adopting an ayurvedic or homeopathic line of treatment.It seems so improbable that some kind of cure, albeit gradual is not available here. Ironically if you were born in India you might have never contracted the ailment despite being exposed to it in all its formidability.. you would simply have grown amazing amount of immunity else can one explain that even till yesterday people were at the beach and drinking the water.. with only faith and reverence being their sole companions.

    Comment by kaveetaakaul — August 27, 2006 @ 5:12 pm | Reply

  9. This is another episode in using religion as a source of entertainment in India.

    Comment by mumbaiKar — January 29, 2007 @ 7:54 pm | Reply

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: