Monday, October 29, 2012

The curious case of TATKAL!


The Indian railways offers a service called TATKAL BOOKING. There is nothing INSTANT about this booking. Here is my frustrating experience!

I was introduced to Tatkal by my wonderful cousin Aiju. When he showed me how to book a ticket online, it seemed like the easiest thing every. Then he showed me how if you didn’t book on time (i.e. 120 days ahead) you had the wonderful scheme of Tatkal. Somehow there seemed to be a lot of power in our hands. To be able to see all the train options. To be able to book a ticket at the click of the button. Yea right ... 'click' of ’a’ button.

One particular event was when my cousin (Aiju) wanted to go to Kerala. There is a catch to the whole Tatkal scheme. There is a two hour time slot in which you can book this ticket. I can be done only one day in advance. So it’s not like you can pack your bag and be ready or anything. Anyway, my cousin wanted to desperately go home. So he decided to go to the railway station to book a ticket. To double his chances he asked me if I could go online and try to book simultaneously. I agreed. He woke up at 5:30 am and went to the nearby railway station. I woke up at 7 am and turned on my computer. I logged into my account on a couple times to make sure it worked. I was all set. Tatkal booking started at 8 am and lasted for 2 hours.

At 7:58 I tried to enter the stations (destination and arrival)...... The website kicked me out. I tried to login.... error found. I was getting annoyed. I tried to login in again and.... incorrect username/password. Thanks.... could you tell me whether the username is incorrect of the password. I tried again and.... there was a long pause that seemed like infinity..... Connecting to  I think the entire 2 billion population of India were trying to log on to the website. 8:00 am. I was IN!
I entered the stations quickly and pressed 'find trains'. Another long pause.... and then the message. Login in timed out..... Yes you DODO... if you take so long to refresh ... of course I will get logged out. It was 8:02 am. I tried booking again and this time it instantly logged me in. Some fluke? I entered the stations and clicked on find trains. I clicked on the train that came up and clicked on 'book'. There were about 40 seats left. I was hopeful. I was going to call my cousin and tell him to come home. I entered his information, which included an id number which is needed for tatkal bookings. Yes because there isn’t enough stuff to enter already! I clicked on book. It took me to the payment website. I entered my credit card information and clicked ok. It told me it would be taking me to another website for security reasons. OK! Hurry already. I entered my password for security reason and heard my phone buzz to the sound of an SMS sent when money is taken from your credit card! Yes! I thought! I looked back at the website and it said ... 'waiting for'. WAITING ... I already paid you! What are you WAITING FOR?  And then the message 'Sorry session timed out'. I felt like I had just been diagnosed for some incurable disease. I tried to log in again. I went to the bookings page and entered the train destination and clicked ’Find trains’. I clicked on the train I wanted --- WL/133.... What! There were no seats left. I felt defeated.... by a website!
I sent an SMS to my cousin to ask him if he had any luck and telling him I had none. His message back to me was '40 sleepless jobless fools ahead of me waiting to book a ticket'. He hadn't even reached the ticket counter and was way behind in the line!

This was just one experience. You normal learn from experiences ... well I didn't I repeated it like 4/5 times. There was one time when we (me and my cousin Aiju) logged on simultaneously from different computers and to book tickets for him tickets. Unfortunately ... both of us booked! Two tickets one traveler same day... it really doesn't help. But we were very proud that day. We had waged war against the system and won!  I now tell people who invite me to functions and do not give sufficient notice ... well if you book the tatkal ticket for me (I will pay you for it ... I just cannot book it) I will come!

Here is a funny picture my cousin tagged me on Facebook. I do feel like that when I get off the website! CREDIT to

Tatkal picture

Time off

It was my first job interview. I had interviewed before for my residency position. But those positions had very few negotiations to make. It was my first real job. I had worked as a student, a researcher and a resident. Now I was going to be a faculty. The 5 digit salary was going to make a whooping jump to 6 digits. All who advised me around told me to ask for 'this' amount and to include a bit extra since I was going to be ABR certified in a matter of months etc. I had only one question in my mind
Me: How much time do we get off?
Dr. Yu: What?
He sounded like he did not understand my question. I repeated
Me: Vacation time. How much time do University of Maryland faculty get every year?
Dr. Yu: I thinks 2 or 3 weeks. But I will have to ask HR.
It should have been a good hint for him not to hire me. I was planning on a vacation before I was hired. I remember going to HR often to find out how much time I had left. I even remember telling someone in HR ... I think I work so I can get time off. I never had anyone complain that I was taking too much time off. Or that I would use up all my vacation for a year. The rest of the hardworking crew accumulated vacation time with an aim to get cash from it.

Now I am no longer an employee. Taking time off is not longer fun! I still get to hang out with my best buddies Monday thru Sunday

Now I am an employers. I have two employees. I see that my role has reversed. My attitude has
changed for the worse. While I enjoyed my time off... I do not seem so tolerant to my employees need for a break.

Both the maid and the cook work seven days a week. They rarely take a day off. Once in a while they come in late or call and say they wont be coming. But in the past one year I can count on my fingers the number of days they have taken off.
There was a time that I would beg of them to take time off. I felt like a slave driver. My only condition to them is that 'please' call me and tell me when you are planning not to come or come late. After all I rely on you! That is where the problem arises. Dependence!

Two weeks ago I completely lost my cool with the cook. She promised me she would come cook for me and then decided last minute that she wasn't going to come. I had depended on her and kept fish out to be cooked. My aunt was in town and she loved fish. When at 5:30 the cook did not arrive I knew I was on my own. I called her and she said ...' I wont be coming today'. I was so mad at her for not calling to let me know. She came the next day and told me that she had mentioned over the weekend - which was in the midst of Isaac's birthday --- that she would not be coming. She was mad. I was mad and I realized that yelling was not the solution. I decided it was cold war time. So for the next few days I would go to her, tell her what she needed to make and leave the kitchen. I was so mad with her that when she made some Biryani rice, I did not want to send some home with her. I knew how much she loved Biryani. Just to be spiteful I ran upstairs right about the time she was getting ready to leave so I wouldn't have to make eye contact while she left empty handed.

As I walked up I suddenly remembered the numerous days I had taken off from work. I remembered the numerous times I had been late to work. My salary had never been cut. My benefits (i.e. Biryani rice) had never been reduced. Here I was mad for one day she took off in many many months.
I felt very small.  I quickly ran downstairs to see her still frying pappdams.
She: I remembered you like pappadam with your Biryani so I was frying a few.

What a blessing! I think as employers we forget the days when we were employees and love just being so tough! Like we have doctors day, therapist day, physicist day... we need a day for the maid and the cook ... So they can have a day off without having to call and give and excuse!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Dressing like a BUM!

I ran out to my cycle ... it was a little past 7 am. I knew I had about 15 minutes before the kids woke up. A quick ride around would be really good if I could get out before they woke up. I almost got on my cycle when I turned around to see my neighbor walking out for aerobics class. Mridula smiled and said 'Going for a ride' I smiled back. 'Yes'. She looked prim and proper in her Capri tracks. Her hair was neatly tied back in a ponytail and she had her mat under her arm. Her sports shoes completed her look. She was going for a workout!
I was wearing a black, red and white (in case there were not enough colors) dhoti pajamas, an out of shape dirty black T-shirt and blue bathroom slippers! I felt like a complete bum!
I ran upstairs, and put on tracks. I could not find any t-shirts so I rummaged in the laundry basket. Dirty clothes ... oh well I was going to be sweating anyway. I pulled out a blue T-shirt and put in on. In less than 5 seconds I pulled it right off. It stinks!
I quietly slipped back in the room and found a grey long sleeved T-shirt and pulled it on. Kids were still asleep.
I ran out and made the effort to open the shoe closet and find my sneakers.

It was 7:10 am. I guess it was not so much time to spend to look like less of BUM! My new motto in life is to look like less of a bum - at least outside the house. Thanks Mridula!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Ahha my 5000 readers!

5000 may not seems like an enormous number to some of you bloggers out there. But to me it's extremely special today. 5000 people chose to read my blog since I first wrote in 2011. To me these 5000 people make me joyful since I was endlessly beaten up during my PhD for my article writing skills.
I still see a large need for grammatical improvement, since I still overlook commas and full stops where they are necessary.
So for the next 5000 readers, I promise to make the extra effort of make my writing a bit more grammatically precise. I hope to keep it fascinating and entertaining. I hope to touch your soul at times, hope to get you chuckling at times and hope that you will just say ... I can relate to that!

For my 8 followers... thank you very much for reading and thank you for following! Seeing your pretty faces when I open my blog keeps me going!

I'm on Aslan's side even if there isn't any Aslan to lead it.

"Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that's a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We're just babies making up a game, if you're right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That's why I'm going to stand by the play world. I'm on Aslan's side even if there isn't any Aslan to lead it. I'm going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn't any Narnia." --- Puddlegum ... Silver Chair --- C.S. Lewis

I recently met someone who told me they were an atheist and I wondered in my mind 'What causes someone to make this claim'. This person was one of the drivers who drove us in Mumbai and he even had a statue of a god on his dash which he claimed his wife had put there.

I quietly wondered about my personal walk with my personal savior. I wondered if this man had seen any miracles in his life. I wondered if he had felt any pain or had lost a dear one. If he had lost a dear one... I felt sad that he had no hope for another chance to see them or to know that we had the hope to all be together in eternity.

I have three main miracles/ struggles that have pushed me closer to God.
1. Isaac .... We struggled so much to have a child. The pain of being barren was too hard for me to bear alone. I knew no one --- not even another woman who had the same issues could understand what I felt. But there had to be someone who knew my pain the way I felt it and more importantly felt my pain.

2. My mother in law --- I have never met someone with so much faith. Coming from a non-christian background even to the very end she knew she was going to a better place. I have never met someone so prepared for death like as if it was news of her wedding day. I still remember when she was diagnosed with cancer she said ... 'I know where is it going to end ... do I really need to take chemotherapy'.   So much peace about the end. I do not think that peace can come from anyone else expect the one true savior. I always wondered how God could take this person away or cause her to suffer so much. But what I see right now is that we are not going away for ever ... just a separation for a little bit. Till He comes again.

3. Ziva --- When I conceived Ziva, it was to me the biggest surprise. We were in the middle of chaos. We had just lost one of the stronghold's of our life - Madras Amma. We were absolutely and totally alone in the US. We were struggling to manage our jobs and child and lives. And just like that God placed in our laps the best gift ever. I struggled to understand why at that time God had chosen to bless us. Today I see Ziva and it feels wonderful to have her in my life. I am so thankful.

This world is temporary and I have something much more to look forward to! And for that as Puddlegum says in the Silver Chair ... for that I believe in a better place with a Saviour I can call my own!

I saw a snake!

So Whitefield is apparently known for lots and lots of snakes. Rat snakes, cobras and other such breeds. There are big ones and babies.
In my one year here at Ardendale I have now seen two snakes in very close proximity. This is more than I have seen in my entire life in the wild ... i.e not the Zoo where they sit around rather stagnant.

The ones I saw were slithering hissing ones. I have heard of about 4 or 5 snakes that were either lying outside my house or within the gated community.

Statement: I do not like snakes.... they give me the ssssshiiivers
The first time I saw one outside the house I had nightmares for a couple of days! When I see Ziva running in the direction of where the snake was sitting, I have palpitations. Isaac is a little sensible and knows to stay away from the unknown. Ziva however has not FEAR!
The latest snake I saw slithering was right outside our community gate. We were driving in the car and Suresh hit the brakes and said... 'look at the snake' and we saw this long slithering thing cross the road like it was the Zebra crossing for snakes. I lifted my legs even though I was in the car and shivered. Suresh rolled his eyes!  Isaac was all excited and talked about it for a long time.

I usually ride my bicycle along the very road that we saw this snake on. After this last visual of the snake I am suddenly very aware of the lack of protection while riding my bicycle. On voicing my fear to Suresh, he yet again rolled his eyes!

I guess we all have our pet-peeves ... Suresh's is the consistency of peas ... mine are snakes!

I'm a big boy now

I cannot believe he is 3 years old. It feels like yesterday ... we were waiting and hoping.

It seems like yesterday when I was lying on the IVF procedure table eagerly looking at the ultrasound screen and then we saw this tiny embryo roll into my uterus (for all of you who are embarrassed at this point ... well grow up). To us it was the most beautiful thing and the most hopeful!
As the embryo rolled in - Suresh said ... 'there it is!' When we see Isaac sleeping peacefully we still often think of him tumbling to find a safe abode within me
Time for a Birth Story. Three years late  --- But when I am old and frail I will present this to Isaac as a present and hope he finds it priceless.
He was supposed to arrive on October 10th and at my doctor's visit on October 9th, the midwife Jeanie Prins said 'Well anytime now'. We were so excited that we didnt consider we would be waiting for an entire week before the little guy arrived. I wanted Isaac to arrive on October 15th so he could be my dad's birthday partner!
Come October 15th . There seemed no action absolutely!  Isaac showed no signs of arriving. As part of the doctors commands - I was supposed to walk a lot. I, of course, by this point was feeling too big to walk around. So Suresh and my mother dragged me to the mall in the pretext of eating at the food court. I still remember what each of us ate. Suresh - five guys : Burger plus fries. Amma: a Subway sandwich with plenty of Jalapenos and Me: the lousiest Gyro ever!
We drove back home after walking the entire mall practically (Howard county mall) and trudged upstairs ... Suresh as usual prayed over me (and the baby) and I lay down on the bed. As usual I was uncomfortable and kept turning from side to side. At about midnight I made one turn and realized something was not right. Great I thought .. I have to pee again. I stood up and well a huge gush of something and I suddenly was afraid ... The time had come.
Suresh ran over to the room and called my mom saying ... its time! We were all so excited (and me a little scared and shaking all over)
We called the midwife practice and she asked 'Is this your first one' Yes ... 'Are you having contractions' No ...'Well just wait a little bit. Take a nap and come in the morning' ..What!!
Amma was pissed. She kept telling us to call the practice every 1/2 hr and kept insisting that we go to the hospital.
Finally at about 4 am we called and said we were too nervous to sit at home forget sleep so we were coming to the hospital. The midwife laughed and said 'Yes sometimes its easier to sleep on the hospital bed'
We reached the hospital and after all the paperwork go settled in the room. And then the waiting began again. The midwife came in and checked me and said well... lets just wait. I could tell from my mother's face that she wanted to tell the midwife how to do her job... or rather just do it quickly. All three of us had the same thought in our head. Just get this baby out soon ... we cannot wait to see him.
Many hours of waiting later ... another midwife Jeanie Prins came in 'So you want to have a baby today' with a big broad grin. It was good I was not yet in pain .. else I would have definitely given her a peace of my mind. I was too excited! Yes I nodded. 'Well I think we may have to induce you since it is almost 8 am!' Great what are you waiting for was my thought. 'But lets try a few more things try walking around for a bit'
A few laps around the corridors of the hospital ward and Isaac still showed no signs of coming out. Finally at 10 am they started the pitocin. I was sure excited because this meant baby would be here soon... soon. An hour of pitocin later and I was willing to take my excitement back! The pain was coming too quickly and I was unable to breathe through it. I had till this point decided not to take an epidural. But now I was begging for it! At 12 noon we disturbed one anesthesiologist from his lunch to come give me and epidural. He seemed a little grumpy but I didnt care! He assured me ... it will all be better in a few seconds ... hold still. Really ... why don't you try to hold still with your uterus contracting the way  mine is!
But he was right! Epidural worked like magic and within a few minutes I just wanted to sleep! The morning nurse came to me to say that her shift had gotten over and she was sad she wouldnt be around to watch the baby come. She also told me she was proud of me for trying to go natural! Trying !
She walked out and I was out like a light. Some 4 hours later the midwife came in to check on me and said ... 'Well looks like you are ready'  Really! About 20 minutes (3:59 pm) of pushing later ... out came 7 lbs 9 oz of Isaac. (Left me with third degree tears and 6 weeks of healing) All of it seemed worth it  just told Isaac in my hands. 7 years of waiting and hoping and he was here!

Suresh often watches Isaac eat peas and broccoli with passion and says 'He is not my son'. Oh we most definitely saw him all combined in a petri -dish!

Isaac now all of three has a great sense of humor and goes into these phases of laughter especially when he is playing with Ziva. The other night we decided to name one of the soft toys that Ziva got as a gift for her birthday. It was a hippo. So we named him 'Popo' ... I guess to Isaac it sounded like poopooo which is what he calls his big job. He kept laughing for a long long time into the night.

Quotes from Isaacland
Me showing him the astronaut Baumgartner's picture in the paper and explaining
Me: Isaac this uncle is an astronaut. He goes to the moon in a rocket.
Isaac perplexed!
Me: He goes to the moon and jumps around on the moon. He is called an astronaut. Like Appa is a scientist in GE ... this uncle is an astronaut
Isaac less perplexed.
Me: Isaac what does your appa do
Isaac: Scientist
Me: What does this uncle do
Isaac: Astronaut
Me: What does amma do
Isaac looks around .... few second later
Isaac: Amma plants the garden!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Seven Brides for Seven brothers

I have seven brothers --- well not real brothers. Cousin brothers combining both my mothers and fathers side. One older (by two months) and the other six younger.

We had a whole bunch of girl cousins get married and produce many babies and now the boys have arrived at their turn of being eligible bachelors or new dads.

Brother no 1 got married in November 2007 to a lovely damsel. Brother no 2. got married in April 2010 to another very pretty lady. Now brother no. 3 has come up to his turn  and I see yet another lovely lady to enter our family and I think ..... What .... How ..... why! How are my rowdy brothers attracting these lovely people!

Brother no 1. intially refused to get married. I think he was largely afraid of bringing home a bride to a family filled with so many sisters... sisters with very strong personalities. Well he was right on being scared. But I guess God had the perfect bride for him! Enter Lovely Liya and I guess there was no saying No! So in 2007 at the age of 30 he tied the knot. Some few weeks later he was running around getting her visa to take her with him to Dubai where he worked. Either he was desperately taking her away from her in-laws i.e. rescuing her from the hands of her sister -in -laws ... or he had fallen in love with this pretty damsel and could no longer stay apart from her. :)

I was asking Brother no. 2's pretty damsel her love story a few days ago and I had to wait a very long time (7/8 painful days) before she sent me her wonderful love story. Now Brother no.2 is the sweetest of the lot and the most brotherly i.e. he showers you with a lot of affection! But my lovely lady SIL told me that he almost got beaten initially! How funny!  When I see the two of them running around little Dhruv ... exchanging hands and sharing diaper changes .... I can see how prefect they are for each other. Its like two surgeons collaborating over one surgery. Well that is what love is about isnt it!

I love love-stories - whether they are before marriage or after marriage. Love-stories make the world all better. Marriage makes it stronger.

 When I met brother no. 3's pretty lady and asked them how they met .... well I heard that he too had low luck in the first go! In fact she told me that she said 'I dont think so' when he first asked her out. But now that I look at them and see their smiling faces as they look at each other ... Well its soo cute. I asked them when they were still dating 'You guys are serious right. You plan to get married right' Neither said a word but the smile in their eyes gave them up! Oh ya Marriage makes the world stronger.

We have come a long way and I wish I had pictures of us when we were kiddos. Most of us are parents now. And are busy running after little kiddos ... but I am still excited about dancing at brother no. 3's wedding.

3 rowdy's down and we sisters cannot take glory for any of the brides. If any of you have watched Seven brides for seven brothers ... the last but one scene has one baby crying and the men who have come to take the six girls back ask 'Whos baby is that?' and all six girls yell out 'Mine' :)

Proverbs 31:10-12
10 A good woman is hard to find, and worth far more than diamonds. 11 Her husband trusts her without reserve, and never has reason to regret it. 12 Never spiteful, she treats him generously all her life long.

Proverbs 18:22

He who finds a wife finds a treasure and receives favor from the LORD.

Proverbs 19:14
House and riches are the inheritance of fathers: and a prudent wife is from the LORD.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Namesake: Tai

I have had a lot of petname/ namesakes since I was a kid.

The most common one and the one that my family still uses on me is Kuttu. Kuttu means small -- I think I was a tiny / scrawny kid and so the name suited me perfectly. Suresh is not able to get into the habit of calling me 'Kuttu'. Probably because he never knew anyone calling me that for the first two years that we were friends or maybe because I was not tiny or scrawny when we met. Even after we were married he found the name 'Kuttu' rather weird. He kept saying -- 'Why did they name you Rohini if they wanted to call you Kuttu' - Good point ... I am not sure.

In college (i.e. 11th and 12th) I was often referred to as George. i.e. My last name. I had friend who would yell 'Hi George - over here' at the railway station and I would turn around and look knowing that the yell was intended for me. George also became 'Georgie -porgie' and other fun variations.

And then for a long time there was none. Till maybe about 2007 when I got my first job.

The first time I was called 'Dr. George' over the intercom - there was a certain sense of pride that I cannot describe. I almost felt that there was nothing else that could feel like that sense of pride. I quickly tried to land back on earth by insisting that people call me Rohini as opposed to Dr. George. Dr. George felt like a namesake .... it did not really feel like me  ... but someone else 'Kuttu' just described my stature. Still on and off I got a call to be Dr. George!

Few months after I quit  my job and we moved to India, I got my latest petname. This one I think I love more dearly because of what it means and how I wish it will last on me forever. I was sitting on my rocking chair when the Cook called out. 'Tai - come eat before it gets cold'. I though she was saying 'Danny - come eat before it gets cold.' She repeated this two times and Suresh came to me and said ... 'Well why arent you eating?'
Me: 'huh'.
Suresh: 'She is talking to you'.
Me 'No she is talking to Danny'
Suresh:' Hahah. No she is saying 'Tai''
Me: 'Oh! What does Tai mean?'
Suresh: 'Mother'
Me:'Why is she calling me 'Mother''
Suresh: 'Its like saying breast feeding mother or young mother'
I am not certain if this was true. Suresh sometimes does make up weird stuff! But I liked the sound of it. I realized that I was holding Ziva and Isaac was running around. For all official purposes - I was 'Tai'. A new petname.
Once in a while she calls me Mam, which I absolutely hate since she is close to my mother's age. Tai is just fine!


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Signing with Ziva!

We have begun teaching Ziva 'signs' and unlike older brother she picked them up pretty quickly. Isaac did not relate his signs to words till about 14 months. However Ziva has now at 12 months starting using them to communicate with us. I guess she has a good teacher. No I am not bragging about myself because she is learning to sign from Isaac.

When I had started homeschooling a few months back, I came across this nice website that spoke about introducing signs to kids. The cirriculum on the website was more suited for 1-2 year olds but I thought it would be fun to go through some signs with Isaac. As we started revising some of the old signs like more, eat and milk, I noticed Ziva observing us very carefully. So we (Isaac and me) turned our focus to Ziva. I would teach Isaac some signs and when Ziva showed up he would in turn 'show off' his new sign. I think in a little while he too realised that she was trainable and kept repeating things to her.

Ziva now shows - more, milk, eat, cheese and all done.
This morning she learnt 'all done' and I gave her a hi-fi for it. She decided she had earned the olympics medal and went between Suresh and me hi-fi-ing us continuously!

Video of Ziva and Isaac signing

Monday, October 1, 2012

"Where ignorance is bliss, 'tis folly to be wise."

The curious case of Indane: Ignorance is bliss till you realize how much money you spent unnecessarily.

It has been a year since we moved back to India. It has been 11 months since we started living in our current house. But last month was the first time we received government gas

In India there are three forms of cooking gas available.
1. Government gas: HP or Indane
2. Private Gas
3. Black
I am still not entirely sure what the difference between option 2 and 3 except in our case 2 was delivered by a nice guy and 3 by what could closely be described as a thug!
The main difference between option 1 and 2/3 is a price difference of about Rs. 600. So why did we not get the option 1 as soon as we got here. Well because the entire acquisition is a really convoluted method where you must have address proof but you just cannot get address proof because you have no address proof.

Here is our story
October mid : Suresh moved into MIMS ardendale and started to get his utilities settled in. Anywhere he went they asked him for a government address proof which was either
- an electricity bill: which in our case was still with the builder, or
- a land line telephone : to acquire which you needed an address proof
- a drivers license with your current address: which we realized would require us either going to the RTO and paying some guy off or going to a driving school who would 'pay off' some guy in the RTO (Pay off = BRIBE)
Suresh finally sought help from the kind property manager (who I would call a 'thug' myself .... suresh says he is just caught by his circumstance of having to please 90 villa owners) who set him up with Option 3. The Gas guys shows up (i.e. Option 3) charges Suresh a deposit of Rs 2500, promises him a gazillion things like instant service even at 2 am at night etc etc. So we end up with a gas cylinder from the 'thug'.
I land in Banglaore a month later and  in a matter of few days we realise that we cannot have just one gas cylinder especially with two kids and not way to tell when the cylinder is close to empty except to count days! So we call the 'thug' and ask him for a second cylinder. He charges us another Rs 2500 'deposit' and gives us a second cylinder.
Life continues as usual till the gas runs out. We call Mr thug and he comes with a new cylinder and says gas price has gone up ... it was Rs 1000 last month it is Rs 1100 this month.
Next month --- gas price has gone up it is Rs 1200 and then again a month later, gas price has become Rs 1300.
I finally felt the whole thing fishy and decided to ask a neighbor --- This was probably the first thing I should have done anyway! She said that private gas was Rs 800 and I could get it from a reliable source called 'J' and that if I was paying anything more I was being cheated.
Tubelight! We were being taken for a ride! How naive! No not naive --- how stupid --- how ignorant. I decide it was war time and called Mr. Thug.
He comes all happy to deliver another cylinder and I am sure was going to tell us that gas price was now Rs 1400. Instead and I bring out the two empty cylinders and ask him for our deposit back. Mr Thug is shocked. He says he doesn't have the money with him at that moment --- but he can take the cylinders off my hands. Huh! Yes thank you! Why dont you kick me in the rear while you are at it.
After arguing with him for a while we realised it was pointless. So we let him go and told him to come back with the money in a week's time.
One month later we still had two cylinders with us! We decided to use some threat action. We told the property manager, who by now we knew was friends with Mr. Thug, that we were planning to go to the cops since Mr. Thug owed us Rs 5000. A few hours later Mr. Thug sends his older brother  Mr. Thug2  who was far more uncouth than Mr. Thug himself. After an hour long of shouting outside our door where Mr. Thug2 kept telling us that he had only Rs 1500 and we had to just take it and return one of the cylinders ... and us not budging from our position of  'Give us Rs 2500 and take your cylinder', we finally go Rs 2500 and had one less cylinder in our house. But the problem did not end there. Mr. Thug2 promised us he would return with the remaining money in one week and pick up the second cylinder.
Another month passed and still not sight of Mr. Thug 2. I had lost my patience with Suresh too. I had begged and pleaded of him to go to Mr. Thug 2 's shop and get the money back. Suresh loves saying that the only way to straighten crooked people in India was Lathi charge .... but he never does much about it. One of these days I am going to hand him a 'Lathi' to see what he does with it.
I finally picked up the empty second cylinder and put it  in the car, put Isaac in his car seat and drove to Mr. Thug 2's shop. When I reached there he pretended like he didnt know me initially. After arguing with him for about 45 minutes he finally gave in. In the 45 minutes that I refused to budge from his shop step he told me it was really uncouth of me to yell in front of his shop. Interesting he did not think of this when he was screaming outside our door. He told me that it was very unlady like. I told him I didnt care - I needed the money back.  45 minutes later I walked out of the shop with Rs 2400 - He told me Rs 100 was for prompt delivery of the gas cylinders and charges for his petrol.

I got into the car and drove for two minutes -- stopped my car and counted the money three times. I was shocked that he had given it!

I have taken on the new name of Jhansi Ki Rani !
I have decided to ask when I do not know how to do things!

PS: One thing I forgot to mention -- Why do I think our property manager was a thug -- well during our many arguments with Thug2, he let it slip that he had to given someone 'Chai pani' (-- i.e. a commission) to get the business's from our Villas' ... Hmmm I wonder who that could be ---