8:26 PM

Here is a big piece of advice to anyone planning to live in India : Never, never, NEVER have an emergency situation at home in this country. NEVER.

Your cooking gas cylinder is empty? Expect to wait 3 days and not be able to cook. The water boiler in the bathroom let you down? You'll have to bear a few cold shower before it's fixed. The same rule applies to just about any houshold problem : Cable guy, electritian, packers and movers, and....PLUMBERS!

My emergency today : The sink in the kitchen is so badly plugged that the water is draining from the sink...directly in my kitchen. Now, being who I am, I decided to try to fix that myself. It probaly would have worked in Switzerland with good Swiss plumbing, but Indian plumbing baffled me a long time ago and I always dreaded a problem in this area of my house, for very obvious reasons.

Indian plumbing for begginers :

No matter how fancy and expensive your sink or basin looks like, the drain pipes underneath is cheap and hooked by gods know what way. In our house like in many, to make things worse it's made of plastic and dangles under the sink until it falls into the drain hole on the ground. It gets really dirty and sticky with time and this is the one thing you wish to never ever have to touch.
The drain system into the ground is not really guaranteed to be of better quality, it's just made of stone, but you will never know where it goes, and how the water reach the sewage system...and something tellls me it's better not to even want to know about it.
The same solid pipes also doubles as a freeway for corkroaches into your home. Enough said about that.

Now, with those two facts, you really don't want to know more. You just pray things stay the way they are and remain in working order. You greatly help this by not pushing left over food down the pipe to begin with. It's a simply obvious fact, sheer common sense, even for a foreigner used to good plumbing. You'd think your maid who is Indian would know such things, even if plumbing might ot really be in her own house. Nope! When I moved into this flat everything was fine plumbing wise. And since I hate washing the dishes and I avoided the chore as much as I could the obvious culprit here is my maid. God knows what she did, but this morning the pipe which started being a tad disfuctional a couple of week ago is now totally kaput.

So, this morning I removed the plastic pipe that dangles between the hole and the sink and got really surprised at how easy the thing came off. It turned out it was simply longer than the gap and bent between the two extremities to stay stable and in the right place. I first checked the plastic pipe to see if the clogging was in there and nope it was not.
The problem was with the drain in the floor, and the only way to get to "see" what's wrong is to use a destroyed hanger and poke inside. I fished a hair ball out of it which got me to racke my brain as to how it even got there. I never washed my hair in there ever, who would want to wash their hair in a kitchen sink???? A little more probing and I fished pieces of rotten filthy food and the smell was horrible enough and makes me want to vomit (I usually start gagging seeing hairs in drain holes...)

Time for plan B : calling a friend. He probably had a smarter plan than all my poking down the pipe. He comes to my rescue, suggest "drainex", which is a powerful acid that would melt the organic plug, and we emptied three packets in the hole. We waited for an hour (the pack said 30 minutes but we decided it couldn't hurt to wait more). The verdict : the pipe is still plugged! (darn)!

Fortunately, there is a plan C : ask the downstair neighbour if he knows a plumber. Sadly, he doesn't, but the neighbour across the street do (thanks god!), the plumber promised he would come at 4 pm. I'm so used to India already that I don't even expect him to come and simply desert my kitchen for the day leaving the flood and mess for later. At 5.30 pm the plumber is OBVIOUSLY not there. So, I cross the street and ask my neighbour about it again. The new timing is tomorrow morning...yeah whatever...dbf may see a damaged pipe on Saturday...I'm bracing myself for this eventuality.

In the meantime, I decided that since it will be defectuous until tomorrow at the best, it would be better to slide the plastic pipe back in the hole. It came off so easily that it should go back in as easily, if not easier...NOT! Now not only  can the kitchen be flooded from pipe overload, it also leaks from all sides of what was irronically supposed to be seal!!!! Oh well I'm sure the plumber will fix that one day.



  1. Anjeneyan1:00 PM

    You should go to the nearest Hardware store and ask for plumber, electrician and carpenter who would be on call when needed. You should have their cell numbers in hand at all times. A better alternative would be to stay in a large group of Apartments where such persons are available on call.

    Of course , you should keep an eye on you kitchen sink at all times to avoid catastrophes at inconvenient times.

    India has a long way to go in having plumbing of international standards. We buy expensive taps , but neglect good plumbing and similar requirements.

  2. Well that post was written by me in 2005, when we were living in an independant house, my neighbour went to the hardware store for me back in the days, but these handimen don't like to be bothered by small jobs like these and fail to get that you need them urgently regardless. I had the same issue when I locked myself out of the house, my neighbours tried to get the locksmith to move his butt to come unlock my door, in the end it was me and my neighbour's wife hamering down the padlock latch and then me breaking my side window to be able to grab the door latch inside, fortunately I had a friend having some heavy woodwork done in his newly purchased apartment who asked the carpenter to come fix my window the next day, because I am sure if I tried to hire one on my own the repair would have had taken forever.
    Now we live in an apartment building so electrical and plumbing woes are taken care of quickly by the in-house repair guys.


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