Dirt Rules

April 3, 2009

It’s not easy to take a shower in five distinct, divergent jets of water, each half a drop in width, and separated by up to a foot in space before they reach the ground. The head gets one stream of water, by sticking an arm and a leg out in opposite directions like a ballerina, two limbs can be made mildly damp. And if you stand bent at the waist, with your butt sticking out to the maximum extent, one stream might be persuaded to land on your back (provided you have a broad back to start with; slim people will stay dry). The fifth jet heads off into outer space with great determination, only to find its way effectively barred by the bathroom ceiling.

Even if you positioned yourself strategically under several streams of water, it would take you up to half an hour to get sufficiently wet to be able to use soap. Then you only have to face the challenge of getting it off again.

And if you want to shampoo your hair, god (or some such higher power) will have to come to your rescue.

The problem is due to the extremely dirty borewell water that we get in our taps. No matter what type of showerhead we put, it gets blocked in weeks. Consequently, we get very few streams of water, which, due to the pressure of all the dirty water that’s trying to get out but can’t, comes spurting out with phenomenal force. If any five separate, half-drop-wide jets of water could blast you out of existence, these would be those five jets.

After many days of difficult showering, Amit took the initiative of removing the showerhead “for cleaning”. He threw it into a mug full of warm, soapy water, and left for work. Which left me ever more showerless than ever. Out of curiosity, I turned on the shower anyway, and a one-inch broad jet of water came shooting out with great force. Fantastic. That would do. It was a bit like bathing under a tap suspended very high on the wall, but, considering that Amit had recently suggested tying a bucket up on the shower rod and attaching a rope so that you could tug on it and get a bucket-full of water upended on you…

Not that the showerhead problem is the only problem caused by the dirty water. What is becoming of the insides of the hot water geysers and the washing machine, I shudder to think. But what it’s doing to our toilet flush tanks has become only too evident. The toilet in our bathroom has been showing great reluctance to fill in recent weeks, and now it has completely stopped. We can actually hear the water dripping into the tank one drop at a time. But even if we let it drip till eternity, the tank still wouldn’t fill sufficiently to actually be able to flush anything. The ball-and-cock arrangement (with a passing snigger to acknowledge the usual meaning of those words) is so gummed up with dirt that it closes long before the tank is full.

The result of all this is that the humble bucket, which had almost been rendered extinct in our lives, has now come in to its own. Several times a day, we bend before it, first to bathe, and now to throw water down the toilet. From being a nobody, it has gone straight to being the lord of the bathroom. Such is the power of dirt.

It’s SO not my day today

May 20, 2008

It started with the plumber.

Have you noticed how most bad things start with the plumber?

And the plumber saga started a week ago, when I was in Pondicherry. One toilet started leaking like it thought it was a shower. The other was leaking like a sieve. So, when I got back, the first thing I did, almost before I took off my shoes, was to call the plumber. We have this deal with this handyman service provider where they are supposed to provide plumbers and electricians on call. The next day, the plumber came, took a look, said it couldn’t be done right away because he would have to buy a washer (two washers, actually) and he didn’t have time to go out, do that, and come back and finish the work. So, he would put in his report and the next day another guy would come and put the washer. Why not the same guy? Well, it was his day off, of course.

The next day, nobody came. The shower-impersonating toilet, which was leaking worse than ever, had been turned off, so only the sieve-impersonating toilet was functional, which wasn’t very convenient. The rate of leak on this one too had increased and was fast tending towards shower-like.

On Friday, I called again, fired them for not sending anybody the previous day, and requested a plumber to finish the job ASAP. The same day, a plumber came, “fixed” the sieve-like toilet, said that the shower-like toilet needed to be cut open (don’t even ASK) and a major part replaced, which he didn’t have time to do that day and he would come the next day to do it.

So, Friday afternoon, I called AGAIN, reminding them to send the plumber to finish the work on Saturday. You know what they said? “Saturday? No, madam. We’ll send him today itself. He will be there by 5.30-6.00”

Well, that’s the time I take the kids to the park, but I did need my toilet to stop acting like a shower and become a toilet again, so I agreed. Frustrated would be too mild a word to describe my mood by 6.30. when no plumber showed up.

So Saturday I called YET AGAIN and royally screamed at the customer service rep – I think this company has just one, so it was the same person I was talking to every time. Well, they sent the plumber – same guy as Friday, thankfully – but he spent more than two hours here, and when he left, the problem came right back as bad as ever. And on the other toilet, the original problem was fixed, but a new and related problem had been caused by the plumbers’ tinkering.

So today, the plumber was back. Yet another guy, this time. At least this fellow seemed to know what he was doing. He tackled one toilet, then set about working on the other. Meanwhile, I found the one he had tackled was still not quite ok. He started to fix that, and I found that the other one was not quite ok either. Sigh. It took him well over an hour to get both of them done, but since then they seem to both be ok.

Meanwhile, the girls took advantage of my distraction and the fact that the bathroom door was open, to quickly nip inside and get to work on the roll of toilet paper. Yep, they had the whole dang roll of toilet paper strewn all over the bedroom in about 15 seconds! And it was a fresh roll, so it had just about as much toilet paper on that roll as you could possibly get. ALL OVER the bedroom, like birthday streamers being take down. Only, all white, of course. Oh and, in ribbons too. Shredded. Like spaghetti. I didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry… so I called Amit, who laughed. It’s easy for him – he’s not the one who has to try to salvage what’s left of it.

So with the household schedule running one hour late and minus a roll of toilet paper, why I decided to clean out the drinking water tank I don’t quite know, except that it was long overdue. We have that Reverse Osmosis system, which wastes three times the volume of potable water it generates. Since we hate to waste water, we have a complicated system for retrieving it and storing it for washing dishes and cleaning the house and so on. This complicated system naturally involves a hose pipe and the hose pipe naturally manages to displace itself from its moorings every once in a way and floods the entire kitchen. And of course, this had to happen today.

Meanwhile the girls have been up to their usual quota of mischief – playing with water in the bathroom, trying to bring down the full-length mirror in the bedroom, getting their hands into the trashcan in the kitchen, throwing around the cushions and pushing around the furniture in the living and dining rooms, and all that sort of stuff. The usual.

There wasn’t enough food for my lunch, so I’m still hungry.

It looks like it’s going to rain again, so the girls and I are going to be stuck indoors this evening as well.

And Amit just called to say he’s going out for dinner!

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