The two are tangled up in my mind. And the reason has nothing to do with the water requirements of onions, or with the fact that Maharashtrian farmers boast of water sufficiency by saying 'we can even grow onions here!'
The reason is a little more basic. When I first started working in watershed management, I was under Kamthe Sir's wing. Before teaching me soil and water conservation, he taught me survival. 'Water and onions', he said. 'Make sure you have plenty of those two things. Carry enough with you, and dont feel shy to ask for either in the villages'. He had a point. Onions are cooling, hydrating, and add zest to a dry meal. I am not entirely sure if the ones I love are entirely happy with my love for crunching raw onions with nearly every meal, but I am.
I was thinking about him because it has been a very long time since I have gone off to plan water conservation in a watershed..the last time was in 2004, I think. And that is why I welcomed my trip to Himachal Pradesh.
That, and the things I was looking forward to seeing there:
Well maintained and lovingly preserved non intrusive water harvesting structures. These are designed to tap the springs' natural flow, as opposed to tube wells which pump out water and deplete aquifers.
And I looked forward to walking on farm paths.
And the mountains
And always, the people. no, this is not my sleuth grandpa. This is a much younger man who worked under the NREGA scheme. We had gone up to where they were working, and he had quietly taken charge, calling the women over, pointing out a woman who was a widow and needed assistance, and offering us all (me included) a beedi before lighting one himself.