Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The bathrrom saga

oI realize that I have been very neglectful of the blog lately. With a writer's block and hitting a low spot, I couldn't think of what to post. I believe I'm on the mend and last night I was hit with the intense desire to blog about the continued bathroom saga unfolding in our flat. No, it's not a story of a nasty train toilet or a hole in the ground, but rather the story of one of our three bathrooms turning into something nasty and dank.

I think it's now been since the second week in January, right before my dad and Alison left for their Southern India tour. I came home from one of my first days of working part time at ASB in the counseling department, to a leaky wall in our bathroom. There is a place where two pieces of marble come together about three inches up the wall from the floor, which had turned into a small, but persistent water fountain. Normally, one would think marble and water create an aesthetically pleasing and calming affect, but not so when coming from your bathroom wall. This wall is shared by the another bathroom and lo and behold, there was another spring that had sprung from that side as well. I was at a loss of what to do. I went down stairs and asked the building manager to come have a look. His first reactions was "shit." (I thought, "this can't be good if an Indian is using expletives in English.") He rallied the guards and some other random men, who all looked at the leaky wall and then turned off the water.

Over the next few days, the location of the problem was found to be in the hallway bathroom. Contractors from the owner and ASB came to look at the problem. It was decided that over 15 days, the piping could be replaced. This meant tearning out ALL the marble walls, chipping away at the concrete by hand to get to the pipes, replacing the pipes and...we have yet to see what happens then. All buildings in Mumbai are made of concrete (investing in an Indian concrete company is a very good idea) and all the piping is within those walls of concrete. Not sure how this could ever be a positive outcome as the building ages.

The stumbling blocks thus far with the projects:

1) Hours that the work can be completed. Mumbai runs on a different time table than the US. We are use to working 8-5 with two 15 minute breaks and a lunch break thanks to Employee rights. In India - the right of the employee is...not sure that has been established. BUT our building has some guidelines. Quiet time is between 2-4pm and no children are allowed to work in the building. Good that they have the latter, but the former is a pain. They come to start work about 10am since Jacinta gets here around 9:30am. They work for two hours and then take a break. Three days a week, Jacinta usually is gone by 3pm, so they can work another hour or two if she stays longer and then two days a week she is around until 5pm. Finally, they would work on the weekends, but Greg and I are in and out so we told them no. So, it's taking a lot longer to get the job done and I know they are pretty frustrated with us because of this.

2) Water "geysering" out of the new pipes। This is last nights fiasco। I got home around 4pm and Jacinta was still here, finishing up ironing and giving the men more time to work. I told her she could leave and I'd be there so they could continue working. Around 7pm, Greg asked the guys when they'd be done and he was told 15 minutes. Greg got his watch out and 30 minutes later, he got up to tell them they needed to stop and leave. At just that moment, the water was turned back on and I heard a "Oh f*$%!" I jumped up and saw water pouring out of the pipe leading into the bathroom (I forgot to mention there is a hole to the outside right now through the back wall as well). The man doing the pipes was up in the window yelling out and trying to call someone for help. The water started to fill up with one of the drains covered by a pile of dirt and one drain slowly allowing water to leave the room. This was not enough. Greg grabbed a squiggy to push the water back into the bathroom. I ran downstairs to try and find the project manager, but only found the guards. "Help! Water is going every where!" The guards looked at each other and I beckoned one to follow me. I ran, he sauntered. When we got to the apartment, the water was into the kitchen and our bedroom. The guard disappeared and the water was shut off. Both the worker and project manager tried to take the squiggy from Greg, who was swearing, pissed off, and telling them no. He finally let the project manager take it from him. Greg told them to be out in ten minutes. "Two minutes sir, just two minutes," he responded. They scurried about, cleaned up and left.

So that's where we are at. It's a pretty big mess right now and my dad and Alison might have to walk down the hall to use a bathroom when they are back for a couple days next week, but maybe by the time Greg's mom arrives, we'll have a brand new bathroom without water cascading from the pipes and walls...over two months after they started the project.

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