In the summer of 2013, we ran out of water in our home in Madurai. Like many others, we depend on the water that our borewell supplies, but after drilling past 500 feet, we hit a slushy bottom – our borewell’s way of telling us to look elsewhere.

An electrician familiar with the workings of our house for decades said the house had never run out of water, which made us inclined to believe this water outage was a passing problem and more to do with the working of the borewell.

My emails from this period reflect our concern with the functioning of the borewell and the muddiness of the column rather than with any fear of the aquifer drying up.