How to choose a contractor . . !



THE doorbell rang and the watchman at the door gave me a smart salute and handed me a piece of paper to sign, ‘There is a managing committee meeting in the society office sir,’ he said. ‘Secretary sahib wants you to come down immediately.’ I swore to myself as I signed the sheet and handed it back to him. The secretary sahib always had emergency meetings. I wore my chappals and went down to the office and found the other members already there.

‘What’s the emergency?’ I asked. ‘Very urgent,’ said the secretary, ‘since you all were at home doing nothing I thought we could have an emergency meeting!’ ‘So the emergency meeting is just because we all are at home?’ I asked. ‘We have to choose a contractor, said the chairman pleasantly, ‘to paint all our buildings. We have already received three quotations.’

‘Personally I feel we should give it to Chunnawalla & Co.,’ said the Treasurer. ‘Why?’ I asked, ‘did he quote the lowest?’ ‘I have not seen the quotation,’ said the treasurer, ‘but I liked Chunnawallah’s face.’ ‘I feel we should give it to Exterior Coats,’ said another committee member, ‘the name sounds very good and I am sure he will do an impressive job with such an impressive name.’

‘Sounds more like a tailor to me’ said a senior member, ‘are you sure it is not exterior coats and pants?’ ‘The secretary held out a sealed quotation. ‘This is a good man,’ he said, ‘I know his son-in-law and he is a very polite and courteous man.’

‘What has politeness and courtesy got to do with his painting? ‘I asked rather rudely, ‘will the paint say excuse me, whenever it peels off?’ ‘Chunnawallah & Co. is a good man,’ said the treasurer again. ‘He is good company and he said he would throw a party for us, if he gets the contract.’ ‘Tell him we want it in a five star hotel,’ said a new committee member, ‘and only foreign whisky to be served.’

‘Most of your foreign whisky is adulterated’ said the chairman wisely. ‘It is better to stick to Indian whisky.’ ‘Indian whisky or foreign whisky’ said the secretary stubbornly. ‘I don’t want to attend any party with strangers, I would prefer this man whose son-in-law I know. He took me to a hotel where they served excellent butter chicken.’

‘So you’ve already met him?’ I asked suspiciously. ‘Only the son-in-law’ said the secretary, ‘I am sure the father-in-law’s butter chicken will be better.’ ‘What about the colour schemes for our buildings?’ I shouted. ‘Black label’ shouted the secretary. ‘White rum!’ shouted the chairman. ‘Green peas biryani!’ shouted the new member. I left before I saw Red..!