This is so not the way weekends are meant to be.
First there was the gas crisis to cope with. To be honest, it wasn’t exactly a crisis yet – it was a crisis in the making. We finished a cylinder several weeks ago and were well on our way through the second cylinder. It’s not very easy to get a cylinder replaced when you are away from home every working day and most Saturdays as well. It also doesn’t help when the gas guys say, “sure, right away, before 11.30 madam,” and you wait until 6 p.m. to no avail. After this had happened a couple of times, including one day when I stayed home on a working day explicitly so the gas could be delivered, I was in no mood to spend the whole of Saturday waiting at home for gas. So I called the gas company, and they said “right away madam, before 11.30 for sure,” as usual. At 12.45, we left home. I called them again before we left, and they said, “we’re on the way, madam, by 2.30 we’ll be there.”
Despite past experiences, I was getting a little stressed about the gas by the time we got home at 4. Of course, we hadn’t got the call to say, “we’re at your residence, madam, the door is locked,” so I should have known that I had nothing to worry about. In the end, just as I was wondering how I could possibly justify another day of working from home for the same reason, around 6.30 on Saturday evening, they finally delivered the damn gas. Ok – so potential crisis averted. Now we only have to repeat this drama a couple of weeks later when the current cylinder runs out. Sigh.
Meanwhile, the painters needed paint.
What painters, you ask? Don’t you know? We’re getting our apartment painted – the one we aren’t staying in any more. It was a bit of a wreck as far as paint staying on the walls was concerned, and we’re hoping to rent it out as soon as we can find a tenant, so painting it became a high priority. There were some minor repairs to be done first, and Amit got the workmen started with those. But by Wednesday evening, that was done and they needed paint. Who has time to buy paint mid-week? I mean, it’s not like buying a small box of paint for the kids – they estimated that we’d need 40 litres. Plus primer. Plus brushes and whatnot.
We’re not too particular about the colour, but we do want to keep a check on the cost, so it meant we’d have to buy the paints etc ourselves and ship it across the town to the apartment. And we’d have to synch up with the workmen, because, naturally, they had the keys to the place.
Saturday passed in a leisurely morning at home, a leisurely lunch away from home, and a not-so-leisurely afternoon waiting for gas. That left Sunday. If we didn’t get the paints on Sunday, we’d lose a whole week, and possibly the workmen would lose interest. We’d lose a tenant that we haven’t found yet, and rent for the month of July. That’s a steep price to pay for a quiet Sunday.
So we dragged all of us out of the house at 10.30 on Sunday morning (what a crime!) and off we went to buy 40 litres of paint. My poor car was sagging under the weight as we drove all the way to Koramangala. I got off at Oasis mall to go shopping. I wanted to buy a pair of jeans, and I wanted very much to buy a pair of Nike track pants that Amit had promised me when Roger won Wimbledon last year (offer expires with Wimbledon Finals this year, unless Roger can pull it off again), but… buying groceries, unfortunately, was a MUST. So I went to Spar and spent 90 frustrating minutes pushing through hordes of people and standing in queue. By the end of it, I had more stuff than I could possibly carry and had to rely on the goodness of strangers to lug it all into the lift and get it out of the shop on to the pavement. Then I had to walk 25 metres from the pavement where my stuff was deposited to the road where Amit was parked – and I almost collapsed under the weight. Seriously – can four people go through all of this in a week?
Amit, meanwhile, had gone to deliver the paints to the painters. It took him a whole lot more than the 30 minutes it should have, because, of course, the one painter who had the key was nowhere in the vicinity. At least the kids got to play with little p for a while – I didn’t even get to meet them. At last the man with the key turned up and the paints were delivered.
Lunch, obviously, was out. Our cook managed to contract conjunctivitis on Friday and was under strict instruction not to show up until she was completely better. Having to do all the cooking is bad, but getting conjunctivitis and then passing it on to the kids is much, much worse. So we spent the weekend scrounging for food, which was fine for the weekend, but not so good for Sunday evening. Now I had to cook so that at least the kids had a decent lunch for Monday. Chicken, veggies, fruit, and chappatis were resentfully churned out, finishing at 10.30 p.m.
Great – now there was only one crisis left to handle – drinking water.
Life has not been easy since we moved to this new place. Some problems were endemic to all Bangalore, even to all Karnataka; some were specific to our area, even to our specific household: There was a water outage that went on for weeks. There was an electricity crisis that persisted for months. There was the garbage situation that is just as ugly today as it ever was. There was the gas near-crisis, narrowly averted. And now there was this drinking water severe crisis. (Mind you, this is not a comprehensive list – I haven’t even mentioned the problems we had finding domestic help, not to mention a dhobi…)
In Koramangala, we got horrible water – borewell water, full of dirt and muck. So we installed an RO system (reverse osmosis water purification system). As long as we had electricity and water (rare combination though it was), we could be assured of good drinking water.
In our new place, we initially got a sufficient supply of Cauvery water. It looked clean… but was it clean enough to drink? Maybe not. However, our kitchen was so configured that it was absolutely impossible to find a space for a water-purification system that required both water and electricity to function. So we got one of those 20-litre cans of water, which you turn upside down over a smaller can with a tap in it. Now our drinking water supply didn’t depend on either electricity or running water – whenever we ran low on drinking water, we went out and bought it.
But nothing is ever that simple. Only a few stores in our neighborhood stock Bisleri water and those shops ran out of the Bisleri water cans ten days ago. For ten days, I’ve been driving past our usual grocery store, ignoring conditions on the road as I peer carefully at the pile of 20-litre cans outside the shop and try to make out if they are empty or full. It’s quite difficult to tell, from across a crowded road, with broken glimpses through moving traffic, whether an upright, transparent, but quite scarred set of plastic cans has water, or is empty. I might have bumped into a few people/cars/cows while trying to ascertain the precise state of the shop’s water stock. Unfortunately, for ten straight days, the cans have been empty. The result being, both cans of water at home were empty and the bottom container, with the tap in it, was down to its last one inch of water – maybe a litre or so.
So off I went, late on Sunday evening, to drive around the neighbourhood with a full tank of petrol and an empty can of water and a promise that I would not return until one was filled or the other emptied. Luckily, the former happened before the latter and I had the opportunity to try my hand – for the very first time – at carrying 20 litres of water from my parking space around the corner to the front door and into the house. After the groceries I’d lugged around on Saturday, it was… bloody heavy!
After all of that, it was a relief that I could get back to work today. At least at work, you know you can expect crises – and, they don’t involve lugging 20-kilo loads around. I never thought I’d say this, but… Thank god it’s Monday!