I just got back from a four-day trip to Delhi to discover that my toaster oven was on. Actually, it was switched off, and the outlet was also off, but I had neglected to unplug it. My guardian angels were on the job, however, and in spite of the fact that there was a bag of something on top and another leaning against it, and it was on high heat, nothing caught fire. Even more mysterious is that when I plugged it in again later, with the switches in the same positions, it didn’t come on again. And no one else has a key to the flat, so this was strictly a problem with the wiring.¬†However, the combination of a leaky outlet with an appliance that hadn’t been known to have any such problem in the past (and is currently not having one) is pretty bizarre. Are there any forensic electricians out there who can explain it?

In any case, Indian outlets, which all have an on/off switch, are notorious for ‘leaking’ electricity. Now I understand why most Indians unplug appliances rather than merely turning them off. Anyway, I’ve learned my lesson on this one.

It’s pretty obvious to anyone who has been in India a while that Indian electricians are not generally very well trained. And the way they work is enough to give you the jitters. For one thing, they like to work with live electricity and they rarely turn off the circuit breakers. Also, it’s common to see big tangles of wires just about everywhere. It’s a wonder that anything electrical works at all here. Perhaps the worst thing, however, is a lack of awareness of the danger of electrocution. I was visiting a friend the other day who was getting some rooms wired. The wires, which were all patched together with electrical tape, were lying in a pool of water. That no accident occurred in that setting is practically miraculous. Well, this is India!

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