Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Pipe Story

          Some people have pipe dreams, we seem to have pipe stories.  Three weeks ago, on a Wednesday evening, suddenly our kitchen sink and our bathroom sink refused to drain.  They share the same pipes.  They had been draining slowly for a little while and then they were clogged.  The next evening we tried "Mr. Muscle", poured it down, hoped for the best - but alas, no change.  Back we went to our school secretary/administrator's assistant - Anna.  Anna, help!  (It is bizarre to have someone at work also be the one who is in charge of your living situation.  We are ever grateful for Anna!).  Anna called the landlady and plumbers were to come at 4pm. Peter left school early to be there.  They came at 5pm and had to take apart our "toilet" bathroom to get to the piping.  Anyway, after clearing out some nasty looking and smelling plaster- like stuff that perhaps is in the water here, and leaving behind a gross floor and the odor of Russian men, they left and our sinks have worked beautifully since.

Fast forward 3 weeks and here I sit.  I am on "apartment duty" - waiting for the arrival of the plumbers.  It's 3:33, and they were to come at 2:30 - so I had to leave school super early.  Not that I mind...

Why do we need them again? You might ask.  Well, let me tell you a little tale.  The night before last, I had a stressful dream, woke up at 4 am and for the first time ever, felt like I was in a strange country and it was not exactly where I wanted to be.  I awoke in the morning, not thoroughly refreshed.  Then, at 6:35am our doorbell chirped (It really does chirp!)  What in the world?  There was a man standing outside our little blue gate, speaking fervently in Russian to us.  Here was my thought process, "Not now!  It's too early for Russian!  What does this man want?  I keep hearing the word bathroom and he is making the motions for a shower.  Does he want to take a shower here?  No way.  No, but he is nicely dressed, not drunk.  Maybe he wants to know if our water works.  Yes, yes it does.  What is his issue?  I don't want to let him into our apartment...but...what else is there to do?"  So we let him in, he went into our "shower" bathroom and looked avidly for water.  Not  a spot anywhere.  By now we understood that there is water leaking into his apartment below us.  Well, he left and we assumed that maybe the problem belonged to our neighbor.  We hoped this to be the case.

But alas, this was not so.  This morning at 6:40am, our doorbell chirped again.  This time there was a woman outside the blue gate.  Perhaps the man could sense my paranoia.  I would much rather talk to and let a woman into our apartment.  She was asking us for a telephone number.  She said that water continues to pour into their apartment.  Well, I don't know if she said pour or seep or trickle or what...  She spoke to us slowly and carefully :)  So, we gave her our home telephone number, though we wondered what go that would do.  Then she asked if she could call it, she did.  It rang and we all could hear it.  She said, "Niet, niet,...blahblah blah" - finally we gathered that she wanted our landlady's number.  I eeked out "We don't have" (forgot to say "it") and said that the school has it.  After realizing what I meant, she rang the doorbell of our neighbors... the woman who answered it was not very thrilled. The number was given and Peter and I went off to school.
And now, here I sit... waiting ....waiting...waiting and enjoying every minute of it.  I have preemptively opened the windows.

Oops... just got a call from Anna...  the plumbers are coming but have had car problems.  I am to wait a few more minutes.

UPDATE:  Logistical:  It's not our problem!   Here's what happened: The (they didn't have any tools) came at 5pm.  They were completely perplexed as our bathroom is stone dry.  They called our landlady, who arrived shortly. After much discussion and debating , they called the downstairs neighbor.  Once the husband got home, the two plumbers went downstairs while we ran water.  Nothing.  And so, everyone came back upstairs to debate some more.  The outcome?  Well, it's probably coming from somewhere else in the building.

           Experiential update:  I listened to and understood snippets of Russian all afternoon!  I also made pathetic attempts to make myself understood and had a little bit of success!  For example, I asked Plumber number 1 how many children he has.  After that he promptly asked me how many I have.  I said none. And then he asked why?  He jokingly asked if my husband and I sleep in separate rooms. Oh my goodness.  But then he indicated that we probably work too much and don't have time for a baby.  

While we were waiting for the husband downstairs to get home, I offered them chai or voda (tea or water) and the men had chai and tea cookies.  And we all shared in conversations!  After the pipe issue was resolved, the men stayed to finish their tea and we continued our "conversations" (consisting of Russian/English words and many, many hand motions).  It ended with us obtaining an invitation to Plumber number 1's house to meet his wife (who would probably tell me to have children too!).   A very fun afternoon.  If I could only be surrounded by only Russian speakers more often...  I hope we need more pipe work done soon!  (Well, not really).

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