How not to do things in India

#24  – Acquiring an LPG connection, in 15 easy steps.

1.  Decide to rent an apartment that does not have an existing LPG account.  One you didn’t even check for. Because checking the fine print is for lawyers.

2. Pick the smallest, most understaffed, and most uncoordinated of the three LPG franchisees in your area.  Spend fours each day for three days till you can get through 21 people to the employee sitting at a chair literally two feet from you. Because you like the underdog. Also, experiencing the real India innit?

3. Decide it’s not worth your time or energy to sort out (in person) an affidavit the gorment requires, and instead pay one of the honest-looking staff 250 rupees to get it done for you.  Which they do. Eight days later and three phone calls later.  Because you are that gullible.

4. Decide to make a three-week-long trip to England during the time you are expecting the confirmation letter from the franchisee.  Because fun won’t happen on its own, yo. And because, aapri rani.

5. Procrastinate on going back to the franchisee with the letter and your forms and proofs and money for 10 days.  Because, uggh, you just can’t deal with all the noise and pollution so soon <back-of-wrist-on-forehead pose>. Also, jet lag, bitches.

6. Haul your fragile constitution over to the franchisee exactly two days after the gorment decided to change its rules and freeze all new connections. Because your timing has been honed by decades of living on IST*.

7. Scrounge a spare cylinder from your landlord/ friends/ shady local contact, while you keep checking with the franchisee every three weeks for three months. In person (because phones are what they have now decided to kill flies with). Wasting two hours each time, because you refuse to shove and push your way through like the 17 people who get ahead of you.  Because if one person is polite and shows respect for rules, more will be shamed into doing the same. And if people like us don’t show the way, who will. Fact.

8. Use up your spare cylinder and instead of sourcing another one, buy an induction cooker. And pots. And pans. Because, investment.

9. Get fed up with waiting and decide to opt for an emergency, non-subsidised account. Submit all your details and return home secure in the belief things will be sorted in three days. Because willing to pay more means better service and totally doesn’t mark you as somebody to be fleeced.

10. Return to the franchisee after eight days to discover that the gorment has changed its rules again, and that your emergency request was cancelled because you are now eligible for a regular account. For which you will need to complete all the paperwork again, since your original filing and confirmation letter are more than 90 days old.  Decide to finally raise hell (because you can only push a nice person this far understand!) and firmly but angrily complain to the owner, who placates you by promising to expedite the process, and who orders the staff to do so, and who informs you at length how lucky you are to get special treatment till you shut them up by thanking them … Only to discover from the staff that the owner’s instructions meant nothing, and you still have to do the process anyway, because that’s the way the system is.  Which is why you fill in the form quietly. Because, 17 years of Jesuit-education training.  And this time, shell out 300 rupees for the affidavit. Because inflation.

11. Get your paperwork sorted after nine days, three phonecalls, two visits, and one sorting-through-all-the-applications later. Go home comforted with the promise that no confirmation letter is needed and that the ‘safety engineer’ will come round tomorrow for an inspection. Because, they promised.

12. Three days later, manage to convince some surly burly man to ‘check-up’ your house after two visits and some minor theatrics. Because you always wanted to be a drama queen.

13. Pay the man 500 rupees because you were too stupid to return the empty, unused cylinder to your contact, and which is now being used as ‘proof’ that you already have a connection, which means he can’t sign off on the approval form, because sirji aisa hain ki gorment bahut strict ho gayi hain. Because you can’t be bothered to argue with him after four minutes, and because it wasn’t a bribe because you were right, and besides, equitable distribution of wealth and upliftment of the poorer classes.

14. Return triumphantly to the franchisees with all the paperwork but end up spending 2,500 rupees on kitchen accessories that you already have or do not require because they billed you for it already and now we will have to fill in cancellation chitty and it’s already 4.30 so we will have to do it tomorrow after lunch but oh I’m on leave tomorrow and then Thursday is gorment holiday, but it’s upto you really. Because OMGJUSTGIVEMETHEDAMNCONNECTIONALREADY!

15. Get delighted when two battered old cylinders that made their way into your kitchen, four days and another two visits later.  Because, even if it did take five months and three days, eleven visits, seven phonecalls and 48 call attempts … RESULT!

* Indian Streeeeeeeeeeeeeeetchable Time.