Beyond absurd

This week has brought more frustration than I have experienced since the early days of living in India, when everything was broken, and we didn’t know who to call or how to fix it. The difference is that we have been here for four months now, and knew exactly what to and who to call. Or so we thought.

The hot water heater, or geyser, in the master bath has been leaking for about six weeks here. The water in our area of Bangalore is very hard and heavily treated as a result, but it is still pretty harsh and just eats through stuff. This is expected, and we already had one geyser replaced due to leaks caused by the tank rusting through. The current leak started off as a minor inconvenience, but became persistent about four weeks ago, so we called for service, and were told that the tank needed replacing. Over the next three weeks, I was given appointment times for the replacement on six occasions, and my maid was called at least one further time. I made certain that I was in the house for at least one hour either side of the agreed upon time, but the repairman never showed. It was a little frustrating, mostly because I wasted a lot of time waiting,  this was the tank that serviced the only bath tub in the house, and it stilled dripped a bit even when the water was off.

When I got the call yesterday that the repair guy would be coming, I expressed my doubt to the office manager. She assured me that the repairman had come by my house each of the previous six times, and that I was not home when he came. I assured her that he was lying. Something must have happened, because he arrived at my house later that afternoon. It was 55 minutes before he was supposed to be there, but he was there.

Having had one geyser replaced already, I knew that you could not drain the water from the geyser when the water was off. I also knew that the repairman would not clean up the mess that resulted from the rusty, stagnant water covering the bathroom when he disconnected the supply hose. I tried to avoid this unpleasant mess, and asked him to use the bucket that was catching the drips when he drained the tank. He then pulled out his phone and made a few calls. When he hung up from the last one, he just stood in the bathroom. After a minute or two, I asked what he was doing. “Waiting for help” was the response.

I assumed that he was waiting for a ladder or another person to assist with removing the tank from its mount about seven feet up on the wall. I was wrong. His phone rang again, and he quickly handed it to me. It was his office manager, and the first thing that she said was, “why don’t you let him do his job?” I was flabbergasted, and asked her to repeat what she said, before I tried to calmly explain that I merely asked him to empty the tank in the bucket. She then suggested I could supply my towels, then newspapers(?!) to soak up the mess, and when I said no to both, she asked where my maid was, implying that it should be her problem. I am sure that many would agree that it should be Sheela’s problem, but I really like her, and had already unintentionally left her one mess to clean from the previous replacement. I wanted to avoid that mess. We hung up after I let her know that I expected the repairman to catch the water with a bucket.

The next call I got was from my landlord, where we repeated much of the same conversation. I calmly but sternly told him that this was unacceptable, and that the job could have been done already if he’d just unhooked the hose into the bucket that was on the ledge DIRECTLY UNDER THE TANK. He didn’t see things my way, and suggested that it might be better to have the repair take place this morning, when Sheela was here. I let him know the brief two hour window when Sheela is here and relented. I did this knowing that Sheela would make sure he didn’t make a mess.

I know I could have let it go, but I was pissed. I wasn’t upset that he refused to clean a mess; I was upset that he refused to do any work unless he made a mess. It was ridiculous.

Fast forward to this morning, and I filled Sheela in before I went out, and she agreed with me. Sadly, he didn’t show up when he was supposed to, and arrived long after she had left for the day. I could tell that he was as pleased to see me as I was to see him. The first thing that he did when he got in the bathroom was remove the bucket and go to move it to the hallway. I stopped him, and told him that he was going to need that. He pulled out his phone and made a few calls…

While I could not tell what was said I know that I was a topic of the conversations by the number of times that he said “the Madam”. He finally hung up and did some more navel gazing before I asked him what his plan was. He let me know that a ladder was on the way. I smiled.

In the end, he drained the tank into the bucket with only a few drops of water splashing on the wall. I had a brief moment of satisfaction, til I realized that he worked slower than paint dried. After a little over two hours (for a job that took twenty minutes or so the last time) I had to force him out of the house so that I could go get the lils from school. Thankfully he waited to finish the job. There were a couple of times that he seemed to be putting the tank back together by trial and error, and spent long periods of time staring at the pieces as if he was willing them back together. It’s up and it works, but I think that we will continue to use this bath sparingly…

Category: India | 2 comments

  • Chantal says:

    oh how frustrating. Good for you for sticking to your guns!

  • Brie says:

    Wow. That is quite the story.

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