Friday, May 2, 2008

The Smart Ass Gets a Kick

Ass; Everybody has one. I have one too, only that I thought mine was a real smart one. Having stated that, I must also confess that my perception changed yesterday.

I am currently in the process of furnishing my new home. I woke up yesterday a bit early and after doing the usual morning business sat down with the to do list that I had meticulously prepared the day before. I have this habit of letting out a little chuckle as a token of appreciation for my systematic and efficient way of doing things and I knew my to do list here deserved at least half of it. So I let it out as I read through the list:

  1. Move the luggage from the guest house to the new house
  2. Receive the delivery of the new A/Cs
  3. Get the A/Cs installed
  4. Get a Mattress and a small Cupboard
  5. Get a T.V, Refrigerator and a DTH connection
  6. Celebrate the successful moving in with a nice dinner and enjoy

It all looked pretty simple. After all , I had planned everything. A light commercial vehicle had been booked the previous day to carry the luggage, the A/C guys had been provided with the address and the time for the delivery, the installation guys had also been kept in the loop and ofcourse, purchasing a mattress and the white goods was going to be a cakewalk.

The guys who were to come to pick up my luggage didn’t turn up on time. I was starting to get worried when my phone screamed out for my attention. I composed myself and took the call -

Me: Hullo?
The voice on the other end (TVOOE): A/C Delivery sir!
Me: Oh yeah.. Sure. Please deliver it at Flat#5, residential unit, opposite Konika, M.G Road, Shastri Nagar, Adyar. And could you tell me how long are you going to take? 'Cause you see, I am not there right now so it's going to take me about half an hour to reach. In case you reach before me , please wait outside and I'll be there to take the delivery. Is that O.K?

There was absolute silence on the other end so I Hulloed a few times to check if the line was still active.

TVOOE: Sir! #$!!!*&^++)(^^& A/C ^%##$!%%$!!!! Adyar #*^%$$%^ Delivery Sir!

All the special characters written above and all that are to follow denote TAMIL words

Me: No Tamil ! Tamil Illai! English speaking?
TVOEE: English sir!
Me: Yes English Yes!
TVOEE: #$!!!*&^++)(^^& A/C ^%##$!%%$!!!! Adyar #*^%$$%^ Delivery Sir!

It was the same code that I couldn’t decipher; I thought maybe he didn’t understand the address so I repeated the same to him.

Me: Shastri Nagar!
Me: Konika!

I was beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel.

Me: Opposite!
TVOEE: #$!!!*&^++) (^^& A/C ^%##$! %%$!!!! Adyar #*^%$$%^ Delivery Sir!

The same code! I knew this wasn’t going to work so I rushed out of the house.
As I ran outside, I looked for any person with a friendly expression on his countenance. After about 2 minutes of panic I saw him. He had big black eyes and pearl white teeth which were showing through his benevolent smile. He was surrounded by three ladies who seemed to be in an intense discussion with him; all of them at the same time which made them sound like Emenem, Usher and Puff Daddy all trying to rap together. Tall, very dark and handsome – The friendly neighborhood Sabziwala

Me: Hullo, English speaking?
T.F.N.Sabziwala: English Yes!

I sighed in relief.

Me: This man on phone, he not knowing English, I not knowing Tamil. Could you talk and help?

I crossed my fingers and my toes.

T.F.N.Sabziwala: Oh yes! Give phone.

What followed was a session of absolute gibberish to me. I tried guessing what was transpiring between the two from the expressions and tone of the Sabziwala. Finally I was told that the A/C delivery guy had reached there and was waiting for me.
I rushed back and asked a colleague who was to share the new house with me to get to the address to take the delivery while I’d wait for the luggage movers to drop in.

Later in the day, after the luggage had been moved and the A/Cs had been delivered, my colleague and I faced an even bigger challenge of handling the A/C installation guy who also just like his delivery counterpart had no idea about English. I gave up and let him do whatever he wanted. He knocked down the windows, cut the wood, and shoved the A/Cs into the walls. While he was at it, there were several instances when he asked us to choose between options. But his renditions were too complex for me to understand. I simply resorted to a simple O.K to his every query and hoped that the end result didn’t have the A/Cs cooling the other side of the walls.

It was late evening by the time the A/Cs were installed. I calculated that there was only enough time to get a cupboard so I went straight to a market which had a series of furniture shops.

I think the people here love to let their emotions flow over trifles. After trying about 3-4 shops when I couldn’t get a cupboard, I decided to ask for a Made to order cupboard. The small discussion that I had with one of the store owners is worth a mention.

Me: Can you make a cupboard on order?
Furniture Man (FM): Yes Yes!! We make on Orderr!
Me: O.K, so here are the dimensions…

I gave him the specifications which he jotted down with his tongue sticking out of the left of his mouth as if he was being strangled.

FM: O.K Sir! It Costing you 4,800 ruphees!
Me: Hmmm.. you see that is expensive , I am looking for a very basic one, can you make a cheap one?

I had never thought that asking a furniture guy to make a cheap cupboard could offend him. He looked at me with blood shot eyes and spat a litre of what I call the conversational spit as he replied.

FM: Cheap cupboard not PHossible ! QHuality not comPHromise!! 4800 BHest PHrice!! Cheap not GHetting anywhere in Chennai! Not PHossible!

I wiped my face, apologized and left.

Back at the guest house , I decided to call it a day and sat down to make the to do list for the next day. There was a small addition to the title though.
It read: To do (if possible.)


  1. hilarious!! you almost make us readers live your experiences!

  2. LOL..extremely reminded me of the harrowing times i have had in namma bengaaluruu :P


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