The Earth-weekend continued till Monday evening, despite M giving umpteen complaints to the Assistant Engineer (AE) BESCOM/KEB, who would keep telling her his line-man would be there in 20 min and after 2 hours still no sign of him. When she got persistent, the AE brushed her off with "you gave wrong address, my lineman cant find it". The fact is the lineman never even tried in the morning but at around 4 pm there was a regular load-shedding and he suddenly materialized, climbed the pole and cut some wires on the pole, mumbled things would be fine and disappeared. Two hours later, NO power.

Fed-up of listening to the line-man's excuses, after 6:30 pm, got the licensed electrician to change the phase on the electric pole. After 3 days in no power mode, rotting food in the fridge, the whole experience of waiting et al was annoyingly frustrating. In retrospect, that haste (after 3 days!!) was a good idea it seems.

Because at 7pm the KEB / BESCOM lineman who came by earlier to cut some wires appeared again....maybe he had heard from the private licensed electrician that we were fine without his help. Well, I was about to go out but decided to wait and see why the Bescom employee was interested in working after his duty hours (which gets over by 4 pm). Most government employees grumble to do paid work during regular office hours so this (un)helpful pretense was indeed strange.

He fumbled around and said the meter was fine (although he knew the main phase was kaput). Annoyed with his charade, I told him to not waste my time and go check the main pole and leave the house meter alone. Down south, men dont like women speaking sternly to them and he gave me an incredulous look but sensing my growing irritation he complied and (on my insistence) checked the main wires. After much hemming and hawing he accepted that there was indeed a problem with the main line and one phase was dead, so yeah it was a KEB problem. Phew, getting him to accept that the problem was from their side was a challenge ! Then he proceeded to give me his AE's cell number and wanted me to lodge a formal complaint (pray tell me, what was the earlier calls all about?) the next morning (i.e today).

This morning, when I called the AE he admonished me for not telling him of the problem yesterday or he would have solved it pronto. He asked me to co-operate (by now i am beginning to love the double-faced attitudes here) with him and give a written complaint blaming the lineman for the work not done. I replied that it was a great idea... i would write a formal complaint about the other mysterious AE (i meant him actually) dwaddling and wasting time for 3 days, giving innumerable excuses about "address not found", harassing women, etc.., to his office and for good measure send it to his senior's too. Three hours later, the electrician appears and tells M the problem was never with the Bescom main phase and that the lineman had accidentally cut our house supply only. So could he change back the interchanged phase (if she paid him, yet again?).

This whole thing seems so fishy that I asked M to just let things be. I presume they must have finally repaired the faulty main and are just trying to cover their b^$$ before we lodge that written complaint.

UPDATE : I got a call about an hour ago saying 3 line men have descended and were __working__ on the main electric pole and restored the connections. Ah...something seems to have done the trick. In this whole episode the thing that bothers me is people's apathy towards everything. Strangely folks in the whole area dont mind living partly in darkness but dont want to be bothered to deal with any government officials (but want jobs there, ofcourse) because getting work done from them involves bribing which they are loathe to do so are unwilling to do anything about it. In case you are wondering i did not have to bribe the officer/lineman. During the whole episode i have heard numerous stories on how not to antagonise the govt' officials or complain against them as they can take revenge by purposely cross-circuting or shorting the connections and it can make life difficult for us women. Gee... i look forward to that challenge too !!