Monsoon rains have finally passed and floods blocking the lone dirt road have retreated enough for a small truck to climb these Himalayan foothills to a gurgling spring. It spews water so fresh that people here call it nectar.
Workers inside a small plant ferry sleek glass bottles along a conveyer. The bottles, filled with a whoosh of this natural mineral water, are labeled, packed into cases and placed inside a truck for a long ride.
Ganesh Iyer, who heads the operation, watches like a nervous dad, later pulling out his phone, as any proud parent might, to show the underground cavern the waters have formed in this pristine kingdom, the world’s last Shangri-La.
This is no ordinary water. It will travel hundreds of miles to some of India’s luxury hotels, restaurants and richest families, who pay about US$6 per bottle, roughly a day’s wage for an Indian laborer. Millions of people worldwide don’t have clean water to drink, even though the United Nations deemed water a basic human right more than a decade ago.
Yet, even as extreme heat dries up more aquifers and wells and leaves more people thirsty, luxury water has become fashionable among the world’s privileged, who uncap and taste it like fine wine.
This “fine water” is drawn from volcanic rock in Hawaii, from icebergs that have fallen from melting glaciers in Norway, or from droplets of morning mist in Tasmania.
Connoisseurs, some who study to become water sommeliers, insist this trend isn’t about snobbishness. They appreciate the purest of the pure.
“Water is not just water,” says Michael Mascha, a founder of the Fine Water Society, a consortium of small bottlers and distributors worldwide. He likens consumers of high-end water to foodies who’d drive miles to findRead more on globalnews.ca