Thursday, January 1, 2009

Quality Electrical Appliances

We spent most of New Year's day in our apartment. Plenty of boxes and suitcases to again sort and upack. We have to decide what things can be stored until warmer weather and where to put the things that we will need over the next few chillier months.
Some of our new electrical appliances kept the day interesting. There is no central heat in Indian buildings so we purchased a couple of small, inexpensive space heaters. Soon after arriving in the apartment today, Lesa tried out one of these little gems. About 10 seconds after plugging it in, smoke started coming out of it and the plastic fan blade inside the unit began to melt. We quickly unplugged it and tried to determine the cause -- was it the wrong type of outlet, wrong setting, or just a crappy product? Audrey ran and looked at the other new space heater and saw that the back was cracked and the motor was hanging down. We determined the cause of the smoking space heater to be "crappy product" and set it aside so we could try and exchange them at the market.
About an hour later, Lesa and I were putting things away in the kitchen when suddenly one of the light fixtures began to sizzle and smoke. We quickly shut the power off to this light & then stared at each other in confusion... apparently more solid Indian electrical know-how. This time we called in the experts... the ATS Village staff electrician.
Of course when the electrian showed up he didn't speak a word of English. Between Lesa and me we speak about a dozen words of Hindi (on a good day). This is where things started to get even more confusing...
Earlier in the day a technician from Samsung installed our new washer-dryer machine. This appliance is not what your are thinking. It supposedly does both things - wash your clothes and then dries them in one machine - not 2 separate or stacked machines. More on this amazing achievement in a future post. Naturally, we wanted to try out the new washer dryer. Lesa and I read the directions and placed a load of laundry in the unit. We had to guess at the amount of soap to use because the directions on the detergent container only explain how to wash clothes in a large bucket. (This is, afterall, India.) With the unit running we went on our merry way unpacking items and running into our previously mentioned electrical issues...
Now, back to the problem with the Hindi-only speaking electrician. We tried to explain to the young guy the problem with the light fixture. He seemed to think we just wanted him to switch out the light bulb. We couldn't figure out how to explain to him the sizzling-smoking issue. Lesa went across the hallway to ask a neighbor who is fluent in both English and Hindi for help in communicating with the electrician. The neighbor agreed, and said she would be over "in a minute to help."
Meanwhile I am in the dark kitchen with the electrician who is standing there blinking at me and waiting for some direction, when suddenly I hear a loud banging sound on our back balcony (this is where you keep your washing machine in India - outside on the balcony). I run out only to find our new washer-dryer rotated 90 degrees and hopping 6 inches off the ground. I lept onto the machine fearing that it would hop right off the balcony. Of course I have no idea what the electrician thought about all of this.
Then the kind neighbor shows up while Lesa and I are laughing hysterically on the back balcony. I'm sitting on top of the washer-dryer, Lesa is doubled over next to me and the electrician is still standing silently in the darkness in our kitchen. I'm not sure what the neighbor thought of all of this either... but she very graciously helped us - very easily - once she made it clear to the electrician what had occurred. Of course, the electrician then disappeared only to send the "better" ATS electrician back to our flat an hour later with thicker wire. Thankfully this second electrician had an much easier time communicating with us and promptly repaired the kitchen light.

6 comments:

Jennifer Zimmerman said...

Artie would not like the washer and dryer situation in India at all!

TheKidz said...

Artie - That makes two of us! I was so looking forward to the luxury of warm dry fluffy clothes from my very own new dryer. There is a reason why dryers are very rare in India. Once again, things aren't always what they seem to be and in this case, its better to do as the locals do and hang dry everything. We no longer have a "dancing unit" though, and I'll let you try it out when you visit Artie. - Lesa

Mrs. Smith said...

After we had been here about a month I told my dad that it would be a miracle if we made it home without someone being electrocuted. After two years, nothing has changed my opinion. The dancing dryer is new to me though, that would have been entertaining to see.

merinda said...

Ah, the memories. Sometimes it's just all so crazy you just have to laugh. I'm glad you are! Once our water heater geyser in the bathroom exploded and was shooting huge amounts of water out of the top. When I heard it, I ran upstairs to see what was going on, stupidly switched on the light and got a nice big ZAP of electricity. But I lived to tell about it, and my father-in-law who was visiting at the time had a good laugh at me.

HouseBoy said...

Mrs. Smith and Merinda: Thanks for reading. So many days really are just so wacky they are hard to describe. Especially to those who haven't been here. Things are confusing sometimes, but India always seems to work despite herself.

Swagata said...

I'm not an active bogger... nor do i read/write any of them.. by some chance i stumbled upon this one... started reading..... And im laughing...
Its nice to know about your exerience in India.
I really enjoyed reading about it and some how not Suprised, as per the difficulties that you face..I would like to know more about your experiences..(smile)
Last but not the least.. Welcome to India(lol)