Power failure

Kept in the dark

9:34 PM

In my previous entry I mentioned stress, and one of my reader mentioned the fact that getting simple things done is stressful enough in India, and I promised I would share one of these silly daily events that get your adrenaline pumping, I just didn’t get much time to do it until now.
It was Wednesday morning, around 11.30am, Ishi and I had breakfast, and she was about ready to go for a nap as we were watching “The Lion King” on DVD, then suddenly…poof, no electricity, that alone isn’t news, it happens way too often in India, but after 5 minutes I got puzzled because our building has power backup and clearly the generator was not kicking in. I thought maybe it was defective, it happened once in the past, but then 20 minutes passed and I was about to go enquire about it when the maid banged on my door and then asked why my doorbell wasn’t working, I told her there was a power cut for the last 20 minutes and she sounded really puzzled explaining to me that no there was power, the lifts were working and the flat in which she was just a few minutes ago never had a power cut…Ha!
I then remembered the electricity bill on the fridge, and sure enough it was barely one day overdue…yes one day, so I went ringing the neighbour to see if they had power, and sure enough all was fine. So I had to go all the way down to the basement were the society manager has his office, where there were 2 other people like me wondering about the sudden power cut…and there was a guy sitting indifferently in a plastic chair, right beside the manager’s desk and intercom line just barking the bill amount due. I got the amount barked at me, and me to explain to the manager and BESCOM guy that yeah true I was guilty of forgetting the bill, it came in the mail box just 8-9 days before the due date and DH travelling al the time he didn’t fill the cheque the short 3 days he was there. I told the manager that instead of cutting us leaving us wonder what the hell happened they could at least dial the intercom extension of those whose cheque was not in the drop box on collection day, and his supreme majesty of BESCOM looked at the manager like he could not believe what he was hearing, the manager then explained to me that it was not part of that guy’s duty to do that but that it was however my duty to pay bills on time, I pointed out that it wasn’t even 24hr late, and YES apologized and said I was ready to pay right now and give a cheque, in the 3 minutes that I was in the lift going back up to my flat, the security officer dialled my extension and my maid picked up, and told me they would come for the cheque, only for me to find no cheque book around, and calling DH to find out that…yup he took the joint account cheque book with him to Pune! And obviously I was just short on cash that day, so I grab my debit card, and Ishi run back to the basement, ask his BESCOMic Pompousness if a cash payment is acceptable, and upon getting a positive inform them that it would take 10 minutes, at which point I run in my sweat pants and baggy t-shirt in the noon sun to the nearest ATM, withdraw the amount, and run back to my home, straight to the basement, tomato red in the face and huffing and puffing like the asthmatic I actually am with the manager immediately pulling a chair for me and the BESCOM guy to look rather unimpressed by the whole thing, hand the cash, and get my fuse switched back on...wew!

I’m not questioning that bills have to be paid, but I strongly question the punishing act of immediately cutting the power without warning, especially when one is barely one day late and the collector guy is seated right next to an intercom phone that can reach every single flat in the building. How hard would it have been to just check that people were there, and ask why the cheque was not in the drop box? All those who were in the same situation as I was just did an honest mistake of forgetting what date it was, I wasn’t aware that this was a capital offense worthy of immediate and rather rude disconnection.
In Mumbai they used to give you quite a few weeks before taking strict action, in fact the bills we received in Navi Mumbai had 3 different tariffs: the prompts payer in the green tariff paid only the amount due, and then the orange and red tariffs were for those medium late and very late at paying the bill, if after a full month of till ignoring the red tariff had passed apparently they would cut the connection…I say fair enough, plus we had the opportunity to pay directly online. Apparently BESCOM has an online payment option too, and in our old house we used to have several weeks of grace period, but in our current building the collector guy come on the 25th, open the cheque box, and check all cheques and match them to his list, all those not in the box but on the list get cut.
Should I feel sorry for the guy not feeling common courtesy isn’t his duty, or enquire about his fingers…surely he must suffer from a serious hand injury for not being able to dial the extension…poor thing, and staying as cold as stone seeing a bright red huffing and puffing lady carrying a toddler in one arm and the money in the other…clearly as the criminal I cannot expect any mercy there right?
The whole crap lasted less than one hour but it got my adrenaline pumping for a while, all the hassle of paying a late bill I tell you!


Blog Archive