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September, 2012:

Satanic Lines!

It was a rare holiday in the middle of the week. The morning was pleasant and sunny. A stray cool breeze was drifting in from the balcony. The house was sweetly suffused with the interminglement of crisp aroma from the kitchen and scented fragrance from the puja room. And then, out of nowhere, pappapenpappapen pappapenpappapen … the doleful strains of shehnai hit the ears.  I looked around. Was it the TV? Was it the music system? Both were mute. So what could be it?

You veteran householders would have, of course, easily guessed that that the shehnai sound was not exactly real, but a foreboding background score that the mind intuitively plays to signal that something was about to go wrong either with the plumbing or with some electrical appliance.

In case you didn’t know, according to the International Constitution for House Owners that has been fully accepted by the United Nations: ‘On a perfect holiday morning, the plumbing or the electrical circuit will unfailingly play up’. If they didn’t, well, it means you have a bigger trouble waiting for you at home, because you just woke up in a friend’s place after passing out in the previous night’s party.

Increasingly I am inclined to think that water pipes, sewer and electrical lines have some kind of secret meeting, somewhere near the garage, late in the night before a holiday. And their conversation probably reads as follows:

Sewer line: Tomorrow is a holiday. I will be obviously made to over work.

Sewer line 2: On a holiday, all these lazybones seem to do is to just eat, watch TV, and keep us constantly on the churn, if you get my drift.

AC Main: At least you are used only from time to time. I am just kept on. Nobody seems to even understand the generic current shortage and the Kudankulam power plant is far from being commissioned.

Kitchen sink line: OK, that’s it, guys. One of us will strike tomorrow and teach these unthinking people a lesson.

Sewer line 1: Perhaps, you should develop some blockage. Normally they look under the kitchen sink only after they run out of all options.

Also, our new-age construction style is not helping matters.

Allow me to explain in detail: In the past, bathrooms were stodgy and unimaginative, and if there was a block in the water outlet, you had to clumsily poke till the water drained out. It was messy. Modern-day bathrooms, on the other hand, are a creation of style and efficiency. A single bathroom comes with the easy convenience of multiple water drains, and this effectively means that if there is a clogged line you have to dig up the entire flooring.

While we are still in the bathroom, we might as well point out that today we have smart faucets, by which it is technically possible to control, with a single lever, the flow as well as the mix of both hot and cold water through over-head shower, hand-shower and normal tap, but practically impossible to have a simple satisfying bath as you need to have, to operate that single lever, the gear-changing skills of a backhoe operator.

On the home electrical front, things have started to look up as people no longer require the help of trained electricians in emergency situations, because the norm now is ‘concealed wiring’. The wires that used to be clumsily mottled outside are these days neatly marked and hidden beneath concrete walls, so in case of electrical emergency, the first person you need to call is the mason

Anyway, getting back to the morning I started describing, just as I was wondering whether I should check the bathroom for faulty plumbing issues or go to the electrical mains to figure out if anything was amiss there, I sensed someone was tapping my shoulder, and I turned around to see that it was my wife. She was also saying something but I couldn’t hear any of her words. It was then I realised that I had forgotten to turn off the shehnai playing in my mind since the first paragraph. Quickly silencing it, I asked her what was the issue.

‘Is it the bathroom fitting or the AC main. I know it has to be one of the two,’ I said in a smart effort to preempt her possible explanations

‘What bathroom? What AC?’ she shot back in that tone of casual irritation that naturally come to wives when talking with their husbands.

‘You mean the plumbing and electrical lines are fine?’ I asked her incredulously.

‘What is with them? They all seem okay. But I just came to tell you that the daughter is on the videogame for five hours straight now. Care to do anything about that?’ she said, letting the sarcasm casually splosh all across the hall like chilly water droplets off a just washed hand.

And indeed there were no issues on the electrical or sewer front on that holiday. But I am more concerned now. I think the electrical and sewer fellows are lying low, ready for a bigger strike at a bigger moment. On second thoughts, probably the smart thing for me would be to buy peace with them. Perhaps I must start to cultivate them. In which case, I must stop outraging them. I must stop mocking them in public. Talking of which, remind me to change the headline for this piece.

How about: Innocence of the drainpipes?