Sunday, March 15, 2009

Indian way of life

The toughest thing about living in a home thats 8-10 years old is maintenance. Having lived in 'sarkari quarters' for about 11 years of our life together, my hubby and I are used to living in a home that demands a lot of your time and attention. 

Taps leak, cupboards don't close, pests are the norm of the day and of course, walls chip. I remember my consternation one day when a chunk of our balcony ledge just broke off and flew down 8 stories! Luckily it was the middle of the afternoon and there was no one under the building. 

The saving grace to all this maintenance work was the fact that the people needed to carry them out (carpenters, electricians, plumbers, masons etc) were all a complaint away. In any fauji locality the maintenance is handled by a core group and all an officer/resident has to do is walk down to the complaint cell and make a written complaint. Their response time wasn't great and often we'd rant about how poorly they'd be equipped (once the plumber didn't have a wrench!!), or how there would always be a 'shortage' of essential spares etc. 

Nevertheless, whether we fought our way through or used the 'request' tactic, work almost always got done.  

Remember, this is also the phase when you live under severe budget constraints. So when you move into an apartment after being posted to a new city, you will wait for the maintenance group to carry out works for you, however long it takes. You simply cannot afford to get it done through an outside agency!

Out of the fauj for two and a half years and we've realised, the tough way, that these 'perks' and 'benefits' are actually priceless and quite irreplaceable. 

Today, it is impossible to find an electrician who will come home to fix things. It is too 'small' a job for them. They don't want to waste precious man hours fixing a couple of 5amp connections when they can be employed by a construction company doing contract jobs that possibly pay better. Ditto for a carpenter and plumber. 

So we are usually left high and dry when it comes to taking care of an apartment that is, as I mentioned, already over 8 years old. There are serious plumbing issues getting aggravated day by day. And even if we manage to convince someone to come work, we have to ensure that there is a substantial amount of work to make it worth his while (even if it means living with a broken table leg for months together).

Flip side, when we hear how people in Sweden or Finland manage their own repairs, it seems like a lesson worth emulating. A bit of hard work never hurt anyone but heck, do we really have it in us to take on such responsibility? Apart from stocking the home with adequate tools, we'd also have to keep spares. Would we do that? And time. Do we have the time for it? Can we ever get that independant? Will we ever get out of the Indian way of life? 

The trigger for this post is the fact that a cupboard door in the kids' room just fell off today, hanging as it was on three hinges fastened with one screw each. Oorja pulled the door open and felt it coming off, moved sideways swiftly, averting a potential and serious accident (the door is goddamn heavy!) The door crashed to the ground, and she is thankfully safe. Now the golden quetion on our minds is, when will it be fixed? 

If we are to go by our 'so far' experiences in Pune, it should take a couple of months! We could do it ourselves next weekend, but question is, would we?

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