Tag Archives: India

Hallo Pleeze! I am Babu the Electrician

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Last week I made a friend. (Stop with the violins!)

I met her at the local expat women’s coffee morning by sitting at the first empty seat I found and that was next to her.

Now I am not prone to going to these as most times it feels  like I’m sitting in a kindergarten with little ones running around or babies squealing for a feed.

I love kids, ask my grandchildren, but as they say, it is easier to put up with their noise than a stranger’s.

What I needed was a nice chat, someone to bring home to dinner.

Valerie asked me where I lived.

Surprised, she told me she lived a minute’s walk away. Across from me sat her friend, Celeste who announced that she can see my place from her house.

Now we were three!

A few days later, Bill and I went to church with Valerie’s family and  then we all joined Celeste’s family for lunch at a nice venue.

The following day, I invite Valerie and her family for a Greek feast!

My recent gift to myself – a 60 litre bench top oven is put to good use making spanakopita and moussaka.

Click!

The electrical circuit trips.

Push up the button and start again.

Click!

The oven starts tripping the circuit board.

My guests are due to arrive and I put my maid on standby at the circuit board.

Click!

Push up

Click!

Push up.

Quickly, I call for the estate’s electrician who arrives promptly and fiddles with the circuit board.

In the midst of making hommous,  I hear a rumble and turn to see flashes, arc-ing and smoke.

My new oven is kaput, my food barely cooked and my guests arrive at the door.

I start having a go at Babu, the electrician who waves his hands violently as if he’s cracking a Bollywood move, speaks loudly in Hindi and does everything but cross himself in self-defence.

Thankfully, I have also prepared jumbo keftethes – more-ish meatballs which we eat with salad, hommous and crusty bread. (Get invited to a Greek’s house and there will always be plenty to eat!)

The oven is still under warranty so I let Babu leave in one piece and note to myself to not have him fix anything around here again.

Frankly, you must have a great sense of humour around ‘technicians’ here.

They turn up at the door with one tool in hand.

The electrician arrives with a screw driver.

The plumber comes with a wrench.

Everything else they need to repair the work must be suppled (and paid for) by you.

Your light’s not working?

The first thing the electrician asks for is a ladder.

When you offer him a dining chair because, as an expat living in an apartment, you don’t think to pack a ladder in your belongings, he clicks his tongue and raises his eyebrows at you, like you’re some sort of misfit.

The carpenter turns up with his hammer and looks to you for nails.

True story.

The carpenter arrives to fix the curtain rail back into the wall.

He turns and asks me for a ladder.

A drill.

A masonry bit.

A chuck to remove the existing drill bit (this he conveniently forgets to give back)

An extension cord.

You’re getting the picture?

But wait there’s more.

I send for the air conditioner technician who comes from a global company rhyming with hibachi.

He starts poking his screwdriver around and I notice the power is still on.

As a small child I got severely electrocuted so I respect electricity. I also observed my Dad, an electrical engineer, repairing items with their power switched off.

Here, often you see ‘technicians'( many who learn their specific trade by simply observing their mates), poking steely bits into sockets and I kind of wonder whether they have a death wish or are they simply looking for better karma in another life?

I turn to continue reading my book.

A flash, a crash and an eerie thud later, I dread to look up.

Will today be the day I see a sizzling corpse before me?

The jolt throws him clearly across the room yet  brushing his hair back, he gets up with a smile.  Not before looking around for his weapon of near destruction.

His reincarnation will have to wait for another day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Of Pylons and Running Donkeys

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Two weeks since my last post and for a very good reason: there is so much going on all around me here in Gurgaon,  Incredible !ndia.

Now Gurgaon is not like the India I have been used to visiting these last couple of decades and certainly North India varies from South India.

Most of my travels have been in the south where the crow is the first sound of the day but here in Gurgaon I am surrounded by mute pigeons who like to poo on my terraces. They’re also referred to as rats with wings  but I’m happy to say I haven’t seen one of those here but then again, I just remembered: we were in the Foreign Registry Office (FRO) having our visas flourished with resident status when a rat appeared on the shelf just above the clerk’s head and started gnawing on the archived paperwork there. Not unusual you might think for India, neither are the cows/sheep/dogs/pigs/camels/people that one must dodge on the road but how about a running donkey coming at you against the traffic at night? What made me laugh was Bill saying that it was running; he had to dodge a running donkey coming towards him. I was there folks and that donkey was in a hurry but I would not say it was running per se, perhaps it was a slight gallop or  even a trot but running?  I don’t think so, Bill.

Gurgaon is  infra structurally challenged. You got a pothole in the road? We can throw some tar on that. Roads here look like patchwork quilts of  bitumen and it seems there are so many cars/cows/sheep/dogs/pigs/camels/TRUCKS/rickshaws/bicycles/tractors/motorbikes using them that the authorities never get a chance to just fix up one whole stretch and make it pretty. The best car to drive in here is the one with fantastic suspension!

Adding to the eyesore is someone’s cockamamie decision to run the electric pylons down a major street called Golf Course Road.   Dubai doesn’t do that to  Sheikh Zayed Road or New York with Fifth Avenue and Gurgaon  has the potential to be a great city but it has been allowed to run a mock; as if the electricity personages said, we need more power in Sector 92-quick put up a pylon!  One sector of this city has had no street lighting for months because the local council hasn’t paid the electricity bill – that’s another story.. These pylons criss- cross and mar the landscape including those from my terrace here where on a clear day,

pylons crisscross gurgaon

pylons crisscross gurgaon

I can count 18 just in my line of view.  I would like to have the opportunity to tidy up the pylons but Bill says there is no way they will be moved in our lifetime. I often pass by one that is on a nature strip with its footings spilling onto a road that will soon be a major thoroughfare. Not unusual. Many, many things can be and will be found in the middle of the road in India and I for one am privileged to see it all first hand.

Highlights of Our First Week Back in India

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Landing in Delhi for the first time since 1996 was surreal. Where were all the porters ready to pounce on our bags? The grotty airport terminal has been replaced by a world class facility and our arrival was seamless. Well and good considering it was 6am Sunday. After a rest in our pleasant guesthouse we yearned to get taken for a joy ride in an auto rickshaw and were not disappointed. Having deliberately passed the mall we hoped to visit we complained to our driver who  insisted we  travel another 10 kms further up the road in the opposite direction. As he persisted to ignore us we jumped out of the auto James Bond style and hailed a taxi. This driver spoke English – which always helps – so we asked him about the James Bond movie playing at the Imax Cinema.

Imax, sir? No problem, I take you.

We sat back and enjoyed the Grand Turino style driving typical on Indian roads, confident that we were well on our way to watch a big movie on the big screen. Hello? Did I say we were in India? Did we ask for the Imax? These were my thoughts as we pulled up to the OMAXE Centre, a little mall innocently placed in Gurgaon just to see whether the Tuckers still have a sense of humour..

Diwali, the Festival of Light is upon us and our neighbourhood is festooned with twinkling lights: their prettiness is in contrast to the sound of bombs going off outside our window. You heard me right, I’d swear I was in a war zone and these are not your usual little bang-bang firecrackers. Indians really enjoy loud sounds.

Bill, the carnivore, is enjoying our cook’s all veg meals and in a week of meals we have not had the same thing twice – who knew you could do so many amazing things with vegetables. Indian cuisine is the bomb..perhaps not the best word to use considering the ruckus outside.

The highlight of the week  has to be getting an invite to the Melbourne Cup Brunch at the Australian High Commission in Delhi. There was barely an Aussie there, the grounds were thick with Americans and Brits and a smattering of what seemed like a representative from every nation in the world. At our table alone, there was a Greek from Bondi, A Kiwi, a Brazilian, A Kenyan, a lady from Nepal, her husband, the British First Secretary and a bloke from Glen Waverley. As the early morning turned into a very late afternoon, the whole atmosphere turned from polite conversation to something out of a Peter Seller’s movie – The Party to be precise. Perhaps it was because I was fully sober and the crowd had generously partaken of the fine Australian beer and wine. Even in Delhi, the Melbourne Cup is the booziest day of the year.

What’s nostalgic about coming back to India is that the auto rickshaw driver still wants to take you on a grand tour, Internet connectivity is a joke, Indian TV still shows 15 minutes of a movie followed by 15 minutes of commercials and grown men are still urinating in public.

Incredible !ndia, I love it!

India Calling

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Back in July, Bill was cruising on a comfortable project planned to see him employed for the next 18 months. In one phone call the client cancels – he is not ready to spend  the $2.5 million needed for the fancy schmancy  family  home.

We use the break in work to escape the chilly, miserable Gisborne ghibli and head to Tweed Heads to thaw out with Anne, Bill’s mother. She and his sister Rachel are the only people in our family  sane enough to live year round in  climates warmer than Victoria’s. Rachel does it in style by living  in Malibu.

Two days into our two week holiday Bill receives an exciting phone call from one of his old Arabian workmates: to drop everything and  fly out to meet a prospective client in Abu Dhabi – in 48 hours.

Sadly we say hello/goodbye to Anne and fly home to await further instructions. It all gets rather complicated but Bill assures me he has a job in Abu Dhabi and so we standby, to hurry up and wait and  prepare our goodbyes.

Two more miserable months of grey skies and Gisborne’s ghibli blow by.

The phone rings.

Sorry, the Abu Dhabi projects are a fizzer – would you consider India instead?

Stay tuned.