Tuesday, November 20

Flip, Flop & Fly

Any friend or family who wishes to deliver my elegy can begin with the words "He didn't go looking for trouble. It found him... often."

As most of you would already know, setting up stuff in a new house is no joke. When you've lived with room mates and semi-furnished houses for as long as I have, you tend to take certain things like sofas, refrigerators and washing machines for granted. My new place had none of these and since I'm not exactly made of money, the furniture and appliances were ranked by necessity and importance.

The stove came first, followed by the fridge, the washing machine and the seating paraphernalia (yes, I don't really encourage visitors). I bought the stove locally and it was delivered without any trouble. I then went fridge shopping at Vijay Sales and blanched a little when I saw the prices. I decided to give Flipkart and their recently launched Home Appliances section a shot.

Flipkart has always delivered my books on time, neatly packaged, discounted and whathaveyou. So you can't really blame me for expecting their other product services to be just as impressive. I found a fridge with the specifications I wanted, in my price range. This, on EMI too! They delivered the box promptly on a Saturday morning. I was told that only the product manufacturer's (Videocon) rep was allowed to open the box and 'install' the fridge. So I waited, assuming he'd be arriving right behind the delivery guys.

On Tuesday afternoon, having seen neither hide nor hair of said personage, I called Flipkart wondering if they'd sent me the Ark of the Covenant by mistake. An earnest employee assured me that they'd get right on it. In the evening, I get a call from the Phantom, a.k.a Videocon's service rep, who says he will show up on Thursday afternoon (Wednesday was Dussehra). I asked him what exactly he was to 'install'. He said that meant he would plug the wire into the socket.

I opened the box myself that night. And survived the ordeal of plugging it in.

The fridge looked was different from the one I'd ordered. My order was for a 4-star piece, whereas the sticker on this fridge obstinately maintained that it was a 3-star one. I then began an online correspondence series with Flipkart that, one day, no doubt will be part of a book called "My experiments with online shopping". The Flipkart fellows assured me (they'd make terrific counsellors) so many times that they'd escalated the issue that it could have reached the moon for all I know. Then they asked me to send photos of the fridge, the box, the bill, my house, me in various suggestive poses, the neighbourhood, tigers in the wild, and so on and so forth.

Yet, it wasn't solving anything because the Videocon guys wanted to come by and verify the details of the fridge and stubbornly refused to call and verify when I'd be in the house. Eventually, they cottoned on to that fact, swung by and did the needful. The model number mentioned on the box, and the fridge were the same. That left only 2 options:

1. Flipkart was engaging in some slightly false advertising
2. They'd fucked up the order with Videocon

Either way, it was on their head. Eventually, I was given some sob story about Videocon changing the specifications and not informing Flipkart and how they were sorry, yada yada yada. The fridge was not going to change but I was offered compensation of Rs. 600 for the trouble. I told them to come back with a better offer since I was convinced there was something fishy afoot. Some time later, this offer was raised to Rs. 750. The guy assured (Again!) me the amount would be credited into my Flipkart wallet within 24 hours.

That was on Thursday. I'm still waiting*.

"My experiments with online shopping - Volume 2" anyone?

Song for the moment: We used to wait - Arcade Fire

* I emailed Flipkart on Friday night. On Sunday, they call saying there are some 'technical difficulties' with the system, but the money would be processed by Monday. Uhuh.   

* Update: Finally, after another strongly worded email, the miracle has happened (22 Nov.)         

Friday, November 16

Wide open spaces

Space, or at least the idea of it, is a funny thing. Growing up, I never had my own room; I shared it with my younger sibling till I moved abroad. And maybe this is a commentary on the middle-class mentality of my generation - I never felt any urgent need for a room to myself in all that time... even during the 'teenage angst' years. When I think of my parents' childhood and remember the 1 BHKs that each of their sizeable families called home, it made my house seem like a palace. And, even though I didn't know it then, the situation gave me two things. Firstly, the ability to adapt and use any space available. Secondly, the trick of losing myself completely in any book I was reading, no matter what yoga asan type posture I happened to be in at the time. Although the flexibility stunts are no longer possible, time being a nasty old so-and-so, I still retain the two former abilities. And boy, have they come in handy.

When I moved to the States for that wonderfully Indian rite of passage known as 'further studies', I wasn't naive enough to think I'd be living in the lap of luxury. But I didn't think I was going to live in the groin of poverty either. As it happened, I ended up in the vicinity of the belly button - close enough to have to share a room and far enough to only have to share it with one guy - Batman, whom I've written about before.

(Incidentally, he is getting married pretty soon, like a lot of my other friends. Guess the missus will get used to sleeping with the lights on as well.)

That room was pretty big, so we each had our own side, with an invisible line demarcating the boundary. The system worked splendidly for the 2 years we lived there, although I did have to live out of my suitcase, and use my huge stack of books as a makeshift table on occasion. But we were 24, it was college and besides, there was always Guinness.

However, when moving back to India, I told myself that no matter what the rent, I would live by myself. Enough was enough. Then I reached Bombay, spoke to a few brokers and gently recalibrated my expectations. For the next 3.5 years, I shared a 1 BHK with a room mate. And here again, let me reiterate - space, or the idea of it, is a funny thing. It was not a large house. Within 6 months of us moving in, the kitchen wall had seeped so badly, it looked like slightly fishy paneer. It was incredibly dusty. Twice, the overhead tank burst, flooding parts of the house. It did not even have a washbasin. There were a lot of centipedes. Also a few lizards. And let's not even mention the incident of the rat.

But I thought it was great, simply because of everything, barring the house itself. It was close to the station, close to my friends' houses, close enough to the pubs and restaurants (Lemon Grass, I miss you so!). So, I stubbornly stayed blind to the deteriorating state of the place, caught up in the fever of having a semi-decent house, at an awesome rent. As a bachelor, I figured the one room I had to myself was more than enough space. But it happens. At least in Bombay.

That's until I was forced to move thanks to... err, extenuating circumstances, shall we say? You've probably read about it previous posts anyway. Anyway, I now live in a lovely place, in a leafy, quiet neighbourhood. For the first time in a long time (I lived in Cambodia alone for 6 months), I live by myself. And I love it, both the house and the amount of space I have in it. Let's face it - as far as space is concerned, I've done the hard yards for a long time. Now, I get to really appreciate it.

Song for the moment: Freedom and its owner - Kings of Convenience