We recently did some landscaping work, where my Mother-in-Law’s motto “every Baas will break something in the process of making something” was confirmed. Her call for constant supervision of the “experts” – something my own father constantly demands- was also vindicated when the water bills came in.
Turns out the guy who “jazzed up” the water outlet in the garden managed to do so by doing some shoddy work with the pipes, resulting in a massive underground leak. The result was that we ran through three months’ worth of water in two weeks. Thankfully, the Water Board has a team that will come and check the pipes for leaks, for a reasonable fee.
It’s when we were wondering what to do later on that it occurred to me that the market for Skilled labour – Carpenters, Masons, Electricians and Plumbers – in Sri Lanka is something of a gray area (at least, as I know of it). I mean, where do you find one?
For example, I have always associated Carpenters with Moratuwa (not withstanding the fact that I spent most of my childhood there) so whenever we need the services of one, my aunt calls up one of her pals there to find out. An electrician? It’s the same guy who’s been doing the stuff for the house over the past few years, and that too a recommendation from a relation.
But what is the guarantee that the person you select knows what he’s doing? It’s the reviews of people you know that matter. When we were looking for a plumber (the usual fellow being unreachable), my Father in Law consulted the guy at the Kade at the top of the road. Next thing you know, a guy turns up in the evening saying that he’ll have a look. It being a little dark at the time, I took him around and told him about the prospective leaks. Then he tells me that he’s actually an electrician, but he does a little plumbing too. Given the recent nightmares, I promptly showed him out.
So where do you go to find someone with skilled labour? And where do you get training in such skills? In some parts of the country I guess it’s more of a learned skill that gets handed down from generation to generation. Which would suffer if the mentor didn’t turn out to be a very good one.
In some countries you could use craigslist or the equivalent. I haven’t used a telephone directory in ages, so I don’t really know if any of them advertise. Where do you find your carpenter/mason/plumber?