Friday, 27 July 2012

Oh it all makes work...

I have a very nice apartment. It's big (way too big for me, in point of fact); it has a roof terrace; it has three bathrooms (all of which I have tried); and it's located in a spot just far enough removed from the Delhi traffic to be something approaching peaceful. However, as with many things here, you don't have to scratch very far beneath the lovely exterior to find workmanship that, well, won't be winning awards at WorldSkills any time soon. The third of the above mentioned bathrooms features an unconventional hole in the wall above the shower head; the power sockets are installed in an entertaining variety of positions and efficacy; and a number of the balcony doors have to be bolted permanently because they don't shut on their own otherwise.

I'm not too fussed about any of this. I've yet to be electrocuted, and the other things are pretty much irrelevant to my life here. Plus, the flat is so big that I've kind of got used to just inhabiting those bits of it that are more or less functional and aesthetically pleasing.

So when, on my second day in India, the door fell off one of my kitchen cupboards, I wasn't too fussed. Again, it's a big kitchen, and I could never fill all the cupboards, so I just haven't used that cupboard. Unfortunately, since then, the same thing has happened to another three cupboards. Faced with a kitchen full of lean-to detached doors, I finally gave in and got my landlord to call in the local carpenter. Re-fixing four cupboard doors, I thought. Half hour job, tops?

24 hours later, my kitchen looks like this:

Now, I'm the last to claim I have any skills in carpentry (or indeed any practical skills whatsoever) but this strikes me as a little excessive. I've been home sick today (having endured a flight back from Bangalore last night while in the midst of a raging fever, chills and sweats) and have witnessed an inordinate amount of coming and going, involving at least four people and a quite impressive amount of dust. None of the workers speak English and my Hindi is certainly not up to "um, you know you're only supposed to be replacing the doors, right?" So I've been curled up on the sofa in my dressing gown listening to the bangs and the crashes and wondering if I haven't ordered a complete re-fit by mistake. Every now and then one of the workers comes out of the kitchen and stares at me. Which is not a nice feeling, given that I feel like I've been hit by a bus right now and am even pastier than normal.

Compare and contrast: my recent discovery (I don't know how it's taken me this long) of roadside, mobile coconut stalls that, using an ingenious set of pipes, spikes and whatnots, get you from raw fruit to glass of chilled coconut water in less than 30 seconds. Efficiency is a rather selectively applied concept in India.

Update: I am chastened. It turns out that my collapsing cupboard doors were due to termites, which I had somehow failed to notice. So now half of my kitchen is being replaced, and the whole flat treated to prevent the little buggers coming back. I take it all back!


sarah said...

And the very first thing I thought of upon seeing this picture was "You're only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!"
May the gods of carpentry be with you in your hour of need.

Sarah xx

Chris said...

Thanks Sarah! We're getting there. Today the whole place has been treated with anti-termite chemicals. So now it smells strongly of anti-termite chemicals. I'm predicting this is not a flavour of air freshener that will be coming out any time soon.

Anna Jo Kap said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anna Jo Kap said...

As i am consider its pretty usual in india to have many workers in order to fix something that is broken. I had 6 workers to my place just to fix ONE ( 1 ) fan. Of course they told me after that, that they just came to see the "white blonde girl who stays there". OK WHATEVER.