Cast iron manhole covers, Made in India! If one wants to see them, one has to go to San Francisco in US, like we did – not as museum pieces but actually being used on their roads to cover the manholes. We do not get to see them in India, because, the moment they are placed in position, they are stolen and probably sold for their scrap value. It is a prime target for the thieves, be it outside on the road or in one’s own compound. The next prime target of this totally socially irresponsible lot is the metal tap. No metal tap is allowed to survive if they are fitted outdoors. So, to be one up on these rogues, the residents fit the outside water outlets with non reusable plastic taps with soldered metal connectors. But one of the thieves would not spare even that in my house!
I was enjoying a luxurious early morning snooze in bed, as my husband was out of station. I was dreaming that I was enjoying a waterfall. The dream was so real that I could actually hear the water. Hear? Oh, God, it was not a dream! The water was actually pouring somewhere in the house. Had I left the tap on anywhere? I got up with a start to trace the leaking faucet. Soon I discovered that the pouring was from the tap in the open backyard. Did I say ‘Tap’? There was no tap. It was water cascading in great volume from the tapless pipe! The Bangalore Corporation releases us filtered Kaveri water on alternate days. When they do, it is not a trickle as in some other areas. Here in Jayanagar it POURS! The thief in his impatience had yanked the plastic portion of the tap off allowing the water to gush out with no control. With the force with which the water was coming out, the pipe would not retain any plug. Anything I tried, it would just spit out contemptuously. I am sure King Bhagiratha never had a problem like this with the holy Ganga river. All he had to do was to stand on one leg, meditate upon Shiva and lo, Shiva was there to trap the gushing river in his elaborate bouffant and control the outflow.
With the husband out of station, my handyman skills were called to the fore. But then, even when he fitted new taps, I used to plug the pipe with my palm. Unfortunately, here I was all alone. If it were the tap on the overhead tank supply, I could have turned off the master tap and control it. My expertise was a limited one, extending to fitting new bulbs, changing the fuse, over hauling the stove and sewing machine etc. And here I was, confronting a faucetless pipe discharging cusecs after cusecs of precious filtered Kaveri water. Thank God, there was no one from the neighboring state present to censure me.
My first thought was to fit the spare plastic tap kept ever ready for such emergencies. But, I found that the metal connector part would not go into the pipe. It did not strike me that perhaps, while yanking the plastic portion of the tap, the faithful, threaded metallic portion had stuck to the pipe and might have refused to leave. In my ignorance, I figured that I should get a plain plastic tap. I visited 3-4 shops in the nearby market. Nowhere could I find just a plastic tap without the connector.By then, it was time for the Corporation to mercifully switch off their supply and the next day was a No-water day. By evening the master of the house returned, to my great relief. He had a tough time removing the obstructing old metal connector from the pipe and fit the new plastic tap with its connector duly in place.
Even the thief must have learnt his lesson by then that by attempting to steal a plastic tap, he would never get anything worthwhile-neither the plastic tap nor its metal connector.