Friday, May 2, 2008

Waiting for Godot

Shifting to Pune, had brought a number of new experiences along with it – some pleasant, some not so. The not-so-pleasant list seems to include stuff like dealing and managing recalcitrant bais or keeping a JIT inventory of the groceries or stalking plumbers to fix one leaky tap (only for the other one to conk off on the next day – NEVER the same day mind you). By far the most harrowing rite of passage to domesticity is the Great Wait for the Gas Cylinder.

Now why so, all these living-happily-with-their-parents-or-eating-dabbawalas-food-supremely-unconcious-of-importance-of-gas-cylinders will wonder. All one needs to do, they think, is call those fellers and viola the gas will come gushing happily home.

Not so, says the living-stressfully-away-from-a-gas-cylinder-booking-parent-who-hankers-for-the-earlier-era will hasten to assure and disillusion the other type.

The gas booking exercise is a test of determination, iron will and unbreakable and unshakable resilience.

It starts innocuously enough – step one – BOOK IT.

In an ideal world, the protagonists would book the cylinder ON the day it runs out. But we are living in a less than ideal world isn’t it –( Mr. Murphy, might be smugly sitting in some warm climes down there, chortling away to glory about how smart he was. ).
So one can safely assume that the cylinder WILL get over on a Sunday or public holiday – a day which one unfortunately cannot book a refill.
So one, files away a small note in the job-lists area of the brain – stating “BOOK GAS CYLINDER NEXT WEEK”.
Subsequently there are a number of other post-its which get stuck on top of this particular one. So that poor little note goes and lurks in some poky corner of the mind. Until the day – a few weeks later, when one accidentally bangs into the cylinder and instead of hearing the warm, comfortingly deep sound of a satisfactorily full cylinder, one hears an ominously hollow clang.

Then starts the panic.

One tries the phone. Then tries it again. Then redials it in a staccato tattoo for the next fifteen minutes. Then tries to imitate the exact nasal cadence of the woman who says “Theees number is buzeee pleeeez try later”. Then one tries it from one’s cell phone and every other phone in the household (and some at the neighbours) – making mental bets with self on which particular phone which will strike gold. After a point, one starts reciting the phone number in the sleep – heck, one probably IS dialling the buttons in one’s sleep.

There are a couple of false alarms – where it rings rather than beeps busy. One’s heart leaps to the mouth in anticipation – usually, only to plummet down after the a) phone not being picked up at all or b) after a brusque “abhi lunch (or tea or snack or early morning or evening or any time of the day) time hai – baad mein phone karo”

On day 4 or so – one actually gets someone who doesn’t say its lunch time. The celebratory jig is hampered a bit by the less than friendly tone of a person, busily engaged in the serious pursuit of avoiding work, disturbed by annoying interlopers. Somehow, one manages to sneak in the consumer number and get a “Haan ajayega”

At this point, ye ladies and gentleman, don’t, EVER do the mistake of asking her/him “ki KAB mil jayega”. That is suicide. That carries the risk of them conveniently forgetting to note down one’s consumer number in the books that are all important.

The immediately following week is relatively stress-free. The lull before stormy days ahead so as to say. No self respecting cylinder delivering agency will tarnish their reputation by prompt performance of service. The only risk the current cylinder running out - so there is a tendency to extreme frugality with the scarce LPG resources (in fact maybe having a bunch of matchsticks under the vessel could have been more efficient)

Come Saturday the hyper activity begins.
Thus starts stage 2 – the wait
One calls up the people (repeat step 1 until you get through) and after nerving self, one tentatively whispers “my cylinder (rattle of consumer number) when will it come?”

She/he snaps back “ Aaaj aasakta hai , kal ho sakta hai – agle hafte ho sakta hai”

One, even more hesitantly (any overt aggressiveness can tilt the fragile balance of power) say “ Aaaj bhej do please? Hum dono office jaate hai – doosra khatam hone ko aya hai”
“Cylinder chahiye ya nahin? To phir? “

And one slinks back with ears and tails flattened and quietly hangs up.

The next week is agony. Does one take leave or not? If the cylinder chap comes and goes away full handed, one will be PRETTY much cooking on matchsticks of making fire out of twigs.
But the all important question is WHEN does one take leave? Besides mutters of “I have to stay home because the gaswala chap is coming” somehow have not gone down very well with the boss.

Is it on Monday or Wednesday? And to this complicated algorithm - add a job which involves extensive travel and a spouse’s job which involves late nights and if you are mathematically inclined do those probability thingummy and chances are the twain ( cylinder chaps + cylinder desiring folks) will never meet.

The week passes somehow in an agony of suspense. Next Saturday – again do step 1 and get a curt “aaj ayega”

And one waits. And prays. And runs to the window and peers down. And tries not call the place again. Even husbands and boyfriends have never evoked that much eager anticipation in the heart. Going out of the house of course is out of the question. What if he arrives?

After about six hours of frazzled waiting the doorbell will ring, just as one is dropping off from a heavy hearted, dejected siesta (“he wont come today either”) and one flies to the door.

The prodigal Gas Cylinder has come safely home!


Rada said...

"Even husbands and boyfriends have never evoked that much eager anticipation in my heart.."

That's a good line!

In Chennai these days, they do not even allow you to book a cylinder unless you have a ration card!

Ah! The simple pleasures of life!

lekhni said...

I thought with new players coming in, the situation would have Looks like one area where competition has made absolutely no difference :(

AmitL said...

Hi,Cyn..ROFL...gas cylinders never evoked more laughter from me than from this post,believe me.(I know,you'll say that from you,they evoked tears and not of laughter)..honestly,whenever I've been to Baroda,it's been a pretty easy procedure. Just call,and,in a day or 2 or 3, they deliver,especially since they have a number of companies delivering now . Till then,the second cylinder is doing it's job.

I do have a suggestion-neighbours se dosti emergencies,that's what we used to do-ask our neighbours to spare their spare cylinder. And,vice versa also works.
And,now,something which should make you drool-out here in Dubai,there are at least five gas cylinder companies who keep moving around our area(And,I believe,for each area,they have a vehicle), if you need a cylinder in an emergency,you can just go down and flag one of the vehicles. In normal cases,you can just call them,and get delivery in an hour.hehe..easy,isn't it?But,then,that's some of the plus points out here,where ease of living is concerned. I have enough negative points in mind,which keep prompting me to plan a return to our shores.:)

narendra shenoy said...

Enjoyed! we have piped gas now, but in the days gone by, I have had occasion to plead, beg and otherwise spend funfilled hours organising that cylinder.

LOL at Theees number is buzeee pleeeez try later! The standard thing when ringing up the gas people

narendra shenoy said...

Enjoyed! we have piped gas now, but in the days gone by, I have had occasion to plead, beg and otherwise spend funfilled hours organising that cylinder.

LOL at Theees number is buzeee pleeeez try later! The standard thing when ringing up the gas people

P said...

ha ha I know what you are talking about. I have seen my mom going through almost similar situation. Even though she is a housewife and doesn't have to take a leave, but she was scared to step out of the house or even go for a bath around the time when the gas cylinder was about to arrive. :) Things are more complicated because we live on 3rd floor and we don't have a lift. So the delivery guys need extra special treatment.

Nandini Vishwanath said...

:) Yes - For the comment left on my blog

And for this post, I'm only going to say: been there, done that :)

Cynic in Wonderland said...

rada - you need to have a ration card? aiyo rama ..and i thought it was bad here! hehe and yes, husbands, boyfriends edifying presence can be a future indulgence but a cylinder is paapi pet ka maamla

lekhini - no competition far as i can see these dudes have a monopoly

amitl - neighbours are very scary people.. they would probabaly cook me and have me for breakfast if i asked for any such thing

naren - pipe gas hmmmmm...thats a good idea. is it good? am not sure they have it here tho..they have plenty of pipes and plenty of roads dug up supposedly for piped gas - but the pipes always seem to be above the ground rather than below hmmmmm

Cynic in Wonderland said...

p - i feel for ur ma - 3rd floor? i would have been cooking lunch for them ( or rather ordering lunch - dont have LPG supplies after all ) hmmmm

nandini - brave ladies also face this? hmmmmmmmmmmm

Arunima said...

Because of the ration card thing, I still do not have a gas cylinder. I buy from private suppliers. The Govt ones are 320 per cylinder. I am paying 750 that too for a lighter one. It's daylight robbery but I am helpless.

We are talking domesticity now.

Bikerdude said...

heheh good one :) In Bangalore, after 2500 tries, the gas agency man will pick up the phone and say the single word "Aaaan" and smash the phone down before you can say anything. Apparently they have a system by which the phone number of the caller is linked to the consumer number.

Still takes the same amount of time to come though.

I wonder if those Jyothi gas things are any faster?

Epiphany said...

:) now I know there is a prequel to the godfather - The cylinder Mafia!

Meena said...

Loved this post,for I have been in this situation so often!In Chennai, we need to have a ration card to book a cylinder now, and I am living on borrowed time with a friend's cylinder which may run out soon while we are trying to get a ration card. I don't work outside the home, but the situation is no different.As p said, I find it difficult to even have a bath - what if the gas fellow came and went away? Invariably, it happens that way - I would have waited at home all day, and I step out for veggies, and lo, he's come and gone. Then back to the phone and endless trying!

Cynic in Wonderland said...

arunima - sigh yes..old age catching up u think?

bikerdude - try calling em up and saying they won a lottery. maybe that will hold them enthralled for a while?

epiphany - dont make fun aiyo ...they might come and blow you apart ( uhm literally)

meena - we should start a society for prevention of cruelty to gas-cylinder-owners

vEENs said...

So funny!!

Gawd... this is almost the same scenario in my house :-|

but another problem is ..we being real nice neighbors also loan our cylinder's to neighbor's ...who r cookin on so called twigs :-/

and welll then the melodrama starts!! we dnt have neone to loan us one...

but the gas always ends up on time :))

Cynic in Wonderland said...

veens - where do u stay? will come there to borrow cylinders from u!