How many workmen does it take to change a light bulb?

As for adapting to general life in India, this will require overcoming some challenges. Although I have been positioned in this rather grand two-bedroomed ground floor flat – which would easily house a family of four – it comes with certain imperfections; the lack of hot water in the shower was possibly the most pressing one. On the upside, even the cold water here is distinctly tepid and therefore my first shower was not entirely unpleasant (and certainly more tolerable than some of the really cold showers in Namibia…), but my preference would have been for a slightly warmer experience.

So the word was spread that someone needed to come and deal with the plumbing: I spoke to a neighbour who inquired whether I was settling in well; I informed the teachers from the school who were helping me in the first few days. I surmised that this way there was more chance of something being done.

On Saturday morning two gentlemen (at least one of them a plumber..) arrived at my doorstep to come and have a look at the showers (two bedrooms, so two bathrooms and two showers…). After turning on and off some switches and taps, they came to the conclusion that when the bathrooms were installed, the plumbers forgot to connect a hot water pipe to the actual shower! However, not all was lost as the ‘telephone shower’ (as it is aptly named in the Kerala language of Malayalam) had a hot water feed and indeed produced a healthy stream of warm water. I was saved, a pleasant shower could be had, or so I thought…

No sooner had the two plumbers left, than the house owner arrived accompanied by another set of plumbers who also put in their penny’s worth, turning taps on and off, only to confirm that there was no hot water pipe to the main shower… well, there was a surprise… Unfortunately, as putting the hot water pipe in would have meant redoing the whole bathroom, this was not an option and, as the owner said, I had the telephone shower after all.

Later on last Saturday, really looking forward to a nice hot shower, I put the shower to the test only to find that after the interference of the second set of plumbers, the hot water situation had again changed. No hot water came from the ‘telephone shower’. As I had at least some hot water in the other bathroom, I did not feel like putting faith to the test by calling in the plumbers again and decided to do as probably most of the Indians do… I resorted to the well tried and tested method of a bucket and a measuring jug…

Luckily things have been resolved since last Saturday. I did mention the unfortunate situation to one of the ‘owners’ of the school. It transpires that the second lot of plumbers had turned off the switch to the boiler/immersion heater that feeds the telephone shower…. So finally, almost ten days in, the telephone shower is well and duly in working order, so I had a (almost…) proper shower this morning. Success!!

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