Saturday, October 20, 2012

Lining Up for LPG Refills

Today Dad and I decided it was time to get a full tank of cooking gas or LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas). We did not have a full tank in store and the one that is presently connected to the stove is about to run out any day now. Normally an LPG cylinder (a properly filled one) lasts us about 45 days. But, as this is India, more often than not the LPG cylinders are not as full as they should be which means we are running like roadrunners after about 25 days just so we can get a full tank.

Unlike in most countries, we do not have piped cooking gas. We use LPG cylinders that weigh about 14.8 kg. In cities or towns, the tanks are normally delivered but, since we live in a small village, we have to go get the LPG ourselves. That normally means long lines and hours of waiting with no real guarantee that we would ever get a full tank when our turn comes. 

A line of empty LPG cylinders
Plus, we never know where we can expect to get the full tank as the locations where the truck comes changes. More often than not it is in Kajla village which is mercifully near (about 2.5 kms. away). There are times when we have to go to Heema village which is much farther away. When our luck is not so good, then we have to go all the way to Sotran Village which is quite a distance away. Needless to say that the roads to all those places leave a lot to be desired. 

The toughest times of year to get a full tank is in winter. Last winter we spent more than 3 1/2 hours waiting in a line so long that I wanted to cry. After we finally got our turn, we were told to come back the next day. By then I really was teary-eyed. 

The procedure is that we have to call the gas agency in town for a booking number. A person can only book a cylinder 10 days after getting a filled one. Then, the booking number must be noted in a small red book and then the real nightmare begins. About 20 days after the booking date, we need to start calling the gas agency at about 9 a.m. sharp.... any later than that would mean the lines would be way too long and the chances of getting a full tank are slim. The thing is, the agency people get so many calls that it takes a miracle to get through.

When we managed to get through, there is no guarantee that they will tell us that we can get a full tank. More often than not, they will say call back in ten days... which means we will be walking a really fine line (if we run out of gas, my Stepmom will go ballistic). If it is our lucky day and they tell us that the truck is waiting in a certain location, we then get dressed in record time, load the empty LPG cylinder in the trunk of the car and go. All the while we are praying that the line will be short and we will be able to get a full tank.

Today, the line was okay and we managed to get our tank after a wait of 1 1/2 hours. We were also lucky that the weather was ok -- meaning its not like summer when we have to stand in line with temperatures reaching the high 30's to mid 40's Centigrade (which is about 80 - 113* Fahrenheit) nor was it the dead of winter. 


A crowd gathering where the gas agency people are checking out bookings
How about you? Do you ever face problems getting your cooking gas supply? 
Posted by: Bames Pabla
Bames Live, Updated at: 2:46 PM