Propping up the old homestead in Goa, India

Propping up the old homestead in Goa, India
Plumbing, electricity and cutting down the palm. Those were the three jobs we came prepared to handle in the old homestead. A lot of work for a week but we wanted it done.

The plumbing dated back to Dads days and the pipes into the house were blocked and even having a bath was impossible without carting water from the kitchen. So Raju the plumber arrived. Dad had taught us to bring in the skill and supervise and we learned that the hard way the first time. Typical city dweller fashion we gave the money to the caretaker and there was much left to be desired.

So with materials bought the day before from Porvorim including hiring an auto to carry the long pipes which did not go in the car, Raju was all set with his materials. Drilling ancient walls he worked steadily through the day. Bhujang had anticipated working outside, so the whole side of the house was cleared of overgrowth so he could work peacefully.

Inside the plump and very affable Madhukar the electrician balanced precariously on shaky stands to fix the lights and the dangling wires in the house. Slowly he went from room to room while his little daughter played in the garden quietly without disturbing her Dad. No whining, I am bored Dad, lets go home like our kids. She seemed to know he was working for their meal on the table and did not intrude at all. We rewarded her with a banana, a piece of Kitkat, a chickoo and finally a slice of pineapple that she sat on the steps and savoured!

It was wonderful to have the unsightly wires which everyone including my sister Christine from Perth had grumbled about. But we have to gather the funds to do any work and do a lot within a tight budget. Now that we had found an electrician who worked in a nearby resort full time and just earned pocket money with our work, it became affordable.

He brought in a lovely big tube light for the kitchen which lit the place up from the dank and dreary place it was. I washed covers of lights filled with insects and cobwebs and he replaced them. New bulbs were fixed and the noisy fan in one bedroom got quietened. The rattle would keep me awake at night and it was a relief to shut it up!

While the men worked, I cooked while the family drove off to Porvorim for a shower head for the last toilet. A shower is very welcome after a crazy evening in the sea to wash off the salt and sand. We tried it out on our return and I assure you it beats a bucket bath, albeit chilly!

But everything is never plain sailing and the water refused to come into the toilets once Raju was done with his work. I was worried, I fretted, I imagined no water in toilets because it was a small village plumber who had done the work. No such issue. All houses have quirks and once we did the pipe into taps routine and used high pressure, we were able to unblock the obvious air block problem.

Immediately Bhujang the caretaker brings in a welder who will made a ladder with the blocked and discarded pipes. We all hate the stand ladders which are a legacy from Dads time and have never discarded, cause of the need to repair stuff in the house. A ladder in one corner is all we need he says, but I still cant get rid of them as they are made of solid wood, albeit some gobbled to dust by the white ants. I always look at long planks to use for the roof which is an ongoing project.

The man to paint the floor arrives. The flooring in the kitchen and back of the house was cow dung when we were little. Then Dad put in red oxide which looks a browny shade of red now and looks awful. Rather than the expensive tile we decide to get labour to rub down the floor and paint it red oxide again.

But that can be done when we have left. We cannot breathe in the smell and stay in the house, he says. The house is a never ending project. Each time we come down for a week and work various problems out – next time the roof. There are scary crashes in the night, so we will have to camp with an open roof the next time. But before that, save up some more money for the next onslaught.

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