What a way to start the week.
It was an unusually hectic weekend – or maybe that’s the way it appears every Sunday night or Monday morning – and watering the lawn got pushed to 8 p.m. on Sunday. In the past I’ve sworn not to water after dark because you can’t see what you are doing and you end up with dry patches all over the place. But the way things turned out, on Saturday we left home at 5 and didn’t get back till 9.30 and on Sunday we left home at 3.30 and didn’t get back till 7.30, so there were no real evening daylight hours at home. And I didn’t want to delay it till Monday evening.
A few days ago, I’d bought a showerhead kind of thingy. You attach it to the hose and it turns the water into a nice spray of five different varieties, depending on the setting you choose. I hadn’t had a chance to try it yet. But I’ve already explained the set-up and tear-down process for watering the lawn and I didn’t want to add to it at 8 p.m. on Sunday night by introducing a new element into the picture, so I thought I’d keep it for next time. Amit, though, being much better now and able to move around quite well, decided it would be his undertaking to fetch the attachment from the dining room and attach it.
“But we’ll have to turn off the water,” I protested. “And that’s a waste of time. Let’s just get this done with and go inside and have dinner. I’m hungry.”
But of course it was in vain. He argued that we didn’t need to turn off the water and proceeded to attach the shower head with the water running, resulting in him getting a nice gray-water shower himself. I, of course, hid a good distance and an impossible angle away from the pipe and managed to remain clean and dry.
It was very nice having this new gadget on the hose pipe. I played around with all five settings and figured out which ones worked best for which stretches of grass. It also seemed to speed up the watering process (or maybe it was just more fun than otherwise) and to use less water. Great. Then, when we were almost done, the gadget suddenly, without much warning, popped off the hose pipe. Amit grabbed it from me, accusing me, as usual of being hopeless and of messing around with it too much and of being somehow or other responsible for it popping off.
“But I didn’t do anything, it just popped off,” I protested. “You shouldn’t attach it with the water running, it creates back pressure. Next time we’ll attach it before we turn on the water.”
But of course it was in vain. He grabbed the hose from me and fitted the shower head thingy back on, treating himself to another quick shower while I scampered out of the way.
A moment later, the gadget popped off again, this time while Amit was firmly in charge of it. And, what’s even more interesting is, he managed to drop it right into the 15-foot deep gray water tank!
Much to my credit, I resisted the temptation to get back at him (I was really hungry by then). “We’ll fish it out in the morning,” was all I said.
I don’t know how I really expected to fish it out. Ok, one thing I discovered was that our tank is not really 15 feet deep. We have this long plastic rod which is supposed to be used to conceal electric wiring. We use it as a dip stick to check the water level in the tank. The rod is just right in length – it stops right at the top of the tank, with its other end touching the bottom. Now when Amit held this rod up against himself, it was clearly shorter than him. So maybe our tank is only 6 feet deep – slight overestimation there on my part. At any rate, it’s too deep to reach the bottom with one’s arm, even if one happens to be as tall as Amit.
So on Monday morning, when we had packed the kids off to school, we stared down into the dark, slightly odorous gray water and wondered how to go about this. Amit was all set to just jump in, so to speak. Great, I thought. Then I can leave him there and go off to work. “How do you think you’re going to get out, with one leg still of limited utility?”
I expected this, too, to be in vain, but for a change, he actually thought about it and decided there was some sense in what I was saying.
“So what do you suggest?” he asked.
I went to the back of the house, where all sorts of interesting things are to be found. Amidst clods of unbroken red soil and hibiscus, lemon, curry patta and frangipani saplings, are compost pots, rakes, endlessly long garden hose pipes, two bicycles, sacks of compost and cocopeat, and sundry bits of tubes and pipes. (I imagine all this is much as it is in anybody else’s back yard. Right?) Anyway, I found what I wanted, a long, strong, thin plastic pipe, nicely bent at three places. This would do.
“That will never work,” said Amit.
At first, it didn’t seem to be long enough. So I got down on my hands and knees and reached in as far as I could. It was long enough, provided I didn’t fall in headlong. I hooked one of the nicely-placed convolutions of the pipe around the showerhead and tried to manoeuver it up, out of the water.
“Here, gimme that, you’re hopeless,” said Amit.
Well, his arms are about a foot longer than mine, so it made sense. I got up and relinquished the pipe. He managed to get down on all fours and pushed the pipe into the tank. And a moment later he let go of it and it slid with a quiet splash into the gray water and disappeared out of sight.
Great! Now what?
“We need a ladder,” said Amit.
If you look carefully at the picture of the reed bed that does our phytoremediation, you’ll see a long, long ladder lying along the length of it. So, we picked up the said ladder – him with his broken leg and me with a still not very strong shoulder – and lowered it into the tank. In case you’ve never had the opportunity to lift one of those bamboo ladders, let me tell you – those bamboo ladders are bloody heavy! Anyhow, we got it into the tank without breaking anything, but, since the ladder is about 20 feet long (allowing for some slight overestimation on my part) and since that the tank is now known to be only about 6 feet deep, it stuck out like the proverbial stairway to heaven.
Amit took off his shoes and emptied the pockets of his shorts.
“Where are you going?” I asked.
He pointed down at the tank.
I pointed up at the ladder.
“You know what’s going to happen when you come back up? It’s going to flip over like a see-saw.” I started to get out of the way yet again. The thought of being hit with a spray of flying gray water was nothing compared to the thought of being hit by a flying limb of my better two-thirds.
“Ok, then you better go down,” he said. “I’ll hold the ladder.”
Uh-oh. I hadn’t bargained on that.
But in the end, it wasn’t that bad. I went down and fished out the pipe and then used it to fish out the showerhead and I didn’t fall off the ladder and I didn’t get my feet wet (though at least one arm got a gray water dousing) and I didn’t go flying through the air on the way up. In fact, there was nothing exciting about it whatsoever. All quite simple and straightforward. Afterwards, we managed to lift the ladder out and though it came within inches of Amit’s car, we managed not to break anything. And after that there was time enough to plant an orange bougainvillea, have a quick white water shower and head to work no later than usual.