Saturday, May 30, 2009

The view from the roof

I haven't yet shown you the view from the roof. At six storeys up, there are things to be seen.
Most of it is rooftops, water tanks, and smog. But there are a couple of unique sights.
One is the Bahá'í temple, known as the Lotus Temple. Architecturally, it's a beautiful building. Spiritually, it's a neighborhood menace. Silent, though, unlike the temples and mosques.
The Bahá'í faith is attractive in India, and the temple is a huge tourist magnet. It has as many as four million visitors each year--that's, says wikipedia, is about 13,000 every day or 9 people every minute. Sheesh!
There are also other gigantic temples on the horizon.
And other people's construction. At least I'm not the only one in the neighborhood being noisy and messy.

Is it necessary?

What's that heap of straw on my balcony, you wonder?
Well, that's what I wanted to know when it arrived by bicycle and a man stood yelling at my door that he had my delivery.
What delivery?
Then I remembered that hours earlier, the plumber had visited.

You see, I'd spent a few hours cleaning the bathroom, two of them just on the toilet. And after the water explosion of a few days before (all faucets and connections dripping and spraying out water), there seemed to be just one smallish leak on the toilet left. So I called the plumber to fix that and do a couple other things around the house.
When he came, he looked at the leak, gave the toilet a little shake, and said, "This is bad." Then he flushed the toilet and water gushed out the back onto the floor. "This is really bad," he said, "You need a new one."
Remembering my long hours of cleaning, I asked, "Is it necessary? Really?"
He flushed the toilet and again we watched the fountain from the back.
"Okay, bring over a new one."

So that's what the delivery man brought over. The new toilet bowl, wrapped in straw.
As for that old one: what a well spent two hours of cleaning only to have it go out with the trash.

No electrician necessary

There are electrical things in India that do not come with their own plugs. Why this is baffles me. Obviously a person does not purchase a hot water heater, iron, or air conditioner for decorative purposes--they mean to plug it in. So why does that person then have to go out and buy a separate plug for the end of the cord? Why isn't it included?
As for attaching the cord to the plug, this is an electrician's job. The man who comes to install your a/c will not do it for you (at least not without much grumbling and muttering that it's not his job).
I consider it a safety hazard to have three open wires sticking in to a wall socket, so I determined to do the work myself. I bought the plug, found my screw driver, and put it together.
Then I called someone who knew about electrical things to make sure there was nothing important I'd left out or was unaware of--to make sure nothing blew up when I plugged it in.
But all was well, I'd done it correctly; and now I have a safely working a/c with attached plug .

Friday, May 29, 2009

The other neighborhood construction

Mine is not the only apartment in the neighborhood which is being worked on. There are several others nearby adding on a room, a new floor, or whatever other changes and improvements they are making.
I find the half-hearted deconstruction interesting, but it was the process of stacking bricks, the sound of it, that had me fascinated.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

89 million men

Today there were:
2 painters
2 carpenters
5 trash collectors
1 landlord
1 delivery man
1 washing machine service man
4 air-conditioner installers
3 electricians
For a total of 89 million men in my apartment.

And I don't care if that is bad math.

Maybe that means there was some work getting done. Or maybe that just means there was a whole lot of chaos, mess and stress. It's hard to be certain.

Here is just one small corner of the mess they leave behind everyday.
And a view of their noise and other general chaos.

The trash is gone

This is how my roof looks now. Clean. Swept. Empty. But it used to look much different.
It used to be that there was a truck load of trash on the roof.

My apartment comes with a small storage room on the roof. For some reason, the landlords (or maybe other building residents) had filled it with trash.

It's a mystery.

Anyhow, some kabardi walleh (trash collectors) were hired to clean it all out and haul it all away. They were told they could keep anything the found inside, whatever value.
It was no problem getting them to empty the room onto the roof where they could see what was there and what they wanted. Getting them to come back and finish the job was another matter.
So this morning I began carrying it down to the neighborhood trash area myself. One bucket load at a time. I figured if I could make two or three such trips a day, I might have it done in a month.
As I dumped each new load onto the trash pile, the kabardi walleh watched me, told me which pile to dump it on. I told them I had more, lots more. And I showed them the pile of stuff.
We haggled over the price for a while and I continued to carry down one bucket full after another. Finally, it became ridiculous enough that I was doing the work when they could be earning money that they agreed to my price.
And we agreed: when you show me that it's all clean, then I hand you the money.

By the end of the day, they had carried it all away and even swept up the leftover dust. Nice. One less thing on my mind.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Locked out

It was an awful beginning to the day.
I'd arrived at the apartment to open it up and let in the painters when they got there. There are three locks on the main entrance. One on the outside metal, screen door and two on the wooden door behind that. An upper lock and a lower lock. I have keys to the outer metal door and the upper lock on the wooden door. The bottom lock is broken and it has no key at all.
I was aware of this and was careful not to lock the bottom lock, and until yesterday, I meticulously checked every day before closing the door to make sure it wasn't locked. But with so many people going in and out of the house, I can't watch them all.
Yesterday I was tired and in a hurry. I didn't check that bottom lock.
So when I tried to open the door this morning--well, that just wasn't going to be possible.

The boy who comes to collect trash was there outside the door. He tried to be helpful and turn the key himself. I let him keep trying while I tried to think what to do.
Not long after, the painters arrived. They tried the keys and told the boy to go off and find some wire to try to open the lock with.
The boy was quick and brought back both the wire and an older boy to watch what was going to happen because the crazy foreigner locked herself out of her apartment.
That whole assumption was kind of maddening--the fact that they all believed this was something I had done. All of them except the true guilty party, that is (I suspect one of the painters had set the lock to close). Yes, I'll take responsibility for not carefully checking to see whether the lock was closed and being the one to close the door. But I didn't set the lock, and I didn't appreciate taking all of the blame.

One painter went off to locate a locksmith in the nearby bazaar and the other found a brick for me to sit on during our wait.
When the locksmith finally arrived, he looked the door over, said it would be hard work and asked too much money to do the job. He knew we were "held captive" in this situation and intended to get all he could out of it. Even though none of us had the tools necessary for the job (being that everything helpful was locked inside), the locksmith was sent away.

And so we waited for the landlord to show up.
And while we waited, a pattern was put in place. The two boys had disappeared. It was only the painters and I left. Every few minutes one of them would try the keys, say what a bad thing this was, ask if it were possible I had more keys in my bag somewhere, and then tell me "no tension, no tension". While I would think of a new person to try and call for a new idea or some needed consolation.
For three hours this was how things went.

And then the landlord arrived. He had a screwdriver, a hammer and a chisel. And, he had a friend of mine on the phone who was familiar with the broken lock and other handy, fix-it things.
It was only a few moments before the door was opened and the offensive lock removed so it could never happen again.

Oh may it never happen again.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The work goes on

Now that the water is restored, there is much more to be done to make the apartment livable, and here are some of those working on that:
The painter guy
A friend removing the yucky peeling cupboard doors
The A/C technician--it's 109 degrees out, his job is very necessary.
I've made myself a little sitting area among all the boxes while I wait for the day when I can unpack them.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


It has come.
What a relief.
It took days to sort everything out. But now the pump is located and hooked up. The documents are in order with the water department. And, very importantly, an automatic switch has been has been installed on the pump to turn on when the direct line of water is running. This way the tank will fill up and I don't need to get up at 4am every day to make sure it does.

It was difficult to know I was frustrated with lack of water when every day this water truck comes two or three times to fill the community tank for the poorer people who have no running water in their homes. I should be more grateful.
And I am now. Very. Water is a beautiful thing. Coming from the taps: that's really magical.

This much water

Three buckets of water. That's how much came through the pipes while the direct line from the city was running.
I'm getting closer? Is that improvement?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


There is no water yet, but maybe by the end of my birthday in a US time zone?

I guess there was an outstanding bill with the government water agency because they assumed someone was living in the apartment, using water and not paying the bill. The landlord went to their office and straightened that out. A pump was connected to the pipes and hopefully tomorrow morning when the pump can be turned on, water will start filling the pipes.
Hoping hoping.
That was amazing fast, really. Quite possibly miraculous.

On other fronts, we tried to get a few other things done for the apartment. Almost bought a slab of marble for the counter top. Almost bought some needed plywood. Almost got the junk and old furniture moved out of the flat. Traffic jams were the problem. At least today the markets we needed were open.

Along the way I saw something interesting. Some men were putting up signboards. Maybe the picture can help explain why cranes are falling on cars. There was an article about it just yesterday. It's not a crane they're using to put up the signboards, but it does show the lack of safety precautions.

Monday, May 11, 2009

For my birthday, I'd like water, please.

I'm moving this week.
This is a way bigger job than anyone anticipated.
We thought there would be some repairs and fix ups--a few days' work-- and lots of cleaning.
The landlord thought there would be some minor repairs and a little cleaning--a day's work.

The reality is much different.

One of the men who came yesterday to remove the old furniture and other trash (why do people keep old medicine containers or not throw out their coke bottles?) broke a window in carrying it out. His hands got cut and that was the end of the junk moving out.
There was no electricity and the electrician was no where to be found.
There was no water to begin washing away the pounds of dust. And further inspection revealed the water pump has actually been stolen.

The dust is thick over the old furniture that needs to be removed, the peeling cupboard doors needing replacements, and every other inch of the place.

The floors are actually white marble. Can you tell? :(
There is so much dust you can see it in the air in the photo.

Here's some video so you can see and hear the work taking place.

See the view from my balcony? Perhaps there's a silver lining in sight?

The electrician came today and now there is power. Hooray!
So tomorrow, I'm hoping for water...

Friday, May 8, 2009

Snowing in May

Today there was so much cottonwood tree fluff floating through the air that it looked like snow. There were also a number of kites flying though the air. It made for a nice scene.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Shining through

It's not very often that we get a glimpse of the farther mountain ranges surrounding our valley. Today the rain cleared some of the mist and clouds from the air and it was possible to see the snow covered peaks.