The time. 5.30 am.
The alarm rang.
After five minutes of jumbled dreams about oversleeping, I sprang out of bed to get the coffee going so I could have everything ready by 6 am, when the rest of our household would be up.
Business as usual, you’re thinking. Nothing unusual, right?
Just as the milk reached boiling point, the stove’s flame went off.
Uh oh, I thought, is it that time already? Moving on, I pulled out our spare gas cylinder, making a mental note to book the refill, and set about switching the full one for the empty one.
No sooner had I pulled the seal off the gas cylinder, fixed the regulator and turned the stove on, than I heard a hissing sound. Not a snake, obviously, but deadlier. A leaking gas cylinder. Terrified, I switched off the regulator and stood, frozen. What to do?. I had the all-important morning responsibility of breakfast to make, lunch to cook.
By this time, Sury was up and as usual, tore the date of the daily Tamil calendar before settling down to drink his coffee.
Then he looked at my expression and was probably about to ask what happened, when his nose distracted him. The smell of LPG is so strong. Also, it courteously meets us before we meet it.
I updated him quickly and the two of us tried to find a solution to the biggest issue, which was lunch. Good old necessity makes us inventive, and this instance was no different. The microwave idli-maker I had bought on a whim came to my rescue.
After Vidur and Sury left at 8 am, I tried calling the emergency number until 1:30 pm, unsuccessfully. By now, I was wild with worry.
However, I did manage to get hold of the gas agency, whose number, as you know, is near-impossible to get through. Can you believe they scolded me about why I did not check the cylinder when it was delivered before reluctantly agreeing to send someone?
Half an hour later, the doorbell rang. Help arrived in the form of our usual delivery man. He asked me for a “tester”. I didn’t have one. Do you know what he did next? He unbuttoned his shirt. A little nervous and very curious, I watched. Then sheepishly realized he was taking off the safety pin in place of a button. His repair tool.
He poked around the cylinder’s pin and replaced a washer in the regulator’s mechanism, reconnected everything and checked to see if it was okay. It was. Then he left.
Phew! Imagine – we read about all sorts of incidents related to gas cylinders and to think my life hung by that safety pin – it was too much.
Marveling at the way things turned out, I decided to tidy up the kitchen before getting on with the day.
So you are probably wondering whether I spent all morning just calling the gas emergency number and agency, yes?
I bathed. And waited for our dear Shari to arrive. Wow, you’re thinking. So you had a good time, right?
Wrong. She rescheduled and visited in the afternoon. Hey wait, that’s a Yes!
I decided between phone calls to check email, only to find that the internet connection was slower than that snail we once saw on the bathroom wall during one of our trips south. Short of writing a postcard to my client, I had no option left but to simply shut down the computer and use the phone, which, incidentally, still worked, and yelled at the internet service provider. If I had a coin for each time a call center responds with “Sorry for the inconvenience. What else can we assist you with” I would be a millionaire, right? Pleasant thought. All my charity dreams would come true.
Still, all is well that ends well, no? Yes.
And oh, the TV didn’t work either.
My book did, though!