Monday, February 15, 2010

Taking a Leak

When I first left home, my father made certain that I was capable of doing a few things that every independent young woman should know; among which were how to make a decent French omelette and how to unclog a toilet (perhaps - even back then - he anticipated my blessed union with Mr This Cat's (Not) Abroad). Truth be told, my plumbing skills pretty much ended with that lesson, although I am pretty handy with a plunger (and an omelette pan).

So,
on Saturday night, walking in the door after a full day in Istanbul, we were perplexed to hear water running from the bathroom and seeing water spurting out of the wall from where the bathtub tap is attached to the tiles. Think Niagara Falls: not the Horseshoe Falls but the Bridal Veil Falls. We were not a little disconcerted. It seemed evident - even to our untrained eyes - that a plunger would be of no service to us here.

We did the only thing we knew how to do (for I had sensed that there would be no call to prepare a French omelette) and turned the water off. Huzzah! - but no, no, the Bridal Veil continued to pour. That's odd, we thought.

As we rummaged about for the phone number of our Landlady's English-Speaking Daughter (The LESD), our doorbell (which annoyingly sounds like cartoon birds chirruping) chirruped. Waiting at the door was our upstairs neighbour Leyla, the only person in our building with a smattering of English - and I use the word smattering most generously.
It seemed that in our absence, the Bridal Veil Falls had been cascading into the apartment below us and our downstairs neighbours had enlisted her service as a translator, being the only person in our building with a smattering of English.

Leyla brought
Mr This Cat downstairs to assess the damage because, in her mind, this would be not only be a constructive use of his time, but would somehow solve the problem of our Cascading Bathtub Tap. It turns out that one of our downstairs neighbours (a recluse, for we had never ever seen her before) is a young woman with two very distinguishing characteristics: 1) she is due to give birth in three days, and 2) she has a speaking disability of some sort. It would seem that the impending parturition (she is due tomorrow) had rendered her completely unable to deal with the dripping from her ceiling, as she was convinced our bathtub would come crashing down upon her. In addition, although she couldn't speak, she could - and forgive me for being uncharitable - bark, not unlike a sea lion - and at a significant volume. She pointed at the ceiling in great desperation, and barked at Mr. This Cat.

Unable to stop the water from entering her home - and unable to make her understand that - he
came back upstairs and called The LESD. From our apartment, we could hear the Barking Woman barking. How is it we've never heard her before? I asked.

An hour or so later, The
LESD arrived with her boyfriend in tow. They looked at the situation (aka the Bridal Veil Falls) and shook their heads. Is the water off? they asked. It is, we assured them. The LESD flopped down heavily into a chair. The timing for our leak wasn't good, she advised us. Her father had had a heart attack last week and she had had a car accident that morning. I refrained from reminding her that bad things often come in threes and that a leaking bathtub was in no way part of our Master Plan to make her life any more miserable than it already was.

The doorbell chirruped, and Leyla walked in. With her was her 10-year old son who sported two large X-marks-the-spot band-aids on the side of his head (a treasure map for brain pirates?) and a pair of woman's shoes three sizes too big for him. She went to assess the situation (unchanged, water still flowing) and he shuffled in as best he could and stared dumbly at us.

The doorbell chirruped and in walked the Barking Woman, her 7-year old daughter, and her parents. We had never met - nor seen - them before, but they all shuffled in, barely deigning to acknowledge us, and headed to the bathroom. Barking Woman barked. Her daughter stayed in the foyer and gawked at us: clearly the first green-skinned three-eyed antennaed creatures Anglophones she had ever seen. Not wishing to traumatizing the child any further, I refrained from shouting "boo" at her. Ten minutes later they left. Leyla went upstairs and returned with her husband - a man I had hitherto assumed was her father - but who (she claimed) was a "professional" (her words) in all things domestic (not her words). He and The LESD's boyfriend began to disassemble the bathroom wall.

The LESD and Leyla cracked open a fresh package of cigarettes and lit up. Thanks for requesting permission to smoke in my home, I said (to Mr This Cat), and ran to the kitchen to fetch a tea glass saucer for an ashtray. No mind, for they had already inaugurated the bathroom sink as an ashtray. Well, why not?

The doorbell chirruped and more neighbours - hitherto unknown to us and whose apartments were quite untouched by the events of the evening - traipsed in.
They had the courtesy to nod to us, and went in to the bathroom. The doorbell chirruped again, and the Barking Woman, her parents, and her traumatized child walked into our home. I gave Mr This Cat a what-the-fuck look which only intensified as, moments later, we saw The LESD giving all of our neighbours a tour of our apartment.

There were now over 13 people in our apartment engaged in all manner of activities.

Meanwhile, Leyla's husband had discovered the source of the Bridal Veil Falls: water from the upper Great Lakes
something was broken. He showed it to us: some metal thingy which he couldn't replace because, although he's a "professional" in all things domestic, he's not a plumber. The LESD popped her head into the bathroom and announced that she had made contact with a plumber but he couldn't come that evening because he was drunk. Well, to be fair, it was now 11:00 on a Saturday night and being drunk suddenly seemed like an enviable state to be in. Leyla's husband reassembled the bathtub taps as well as he could and advised us that the water would be running all night (the Environment groaned) because when the tap was turned on (although the water was turned off), the water didn't pour into the apartment below. Go figure.

It was now about midnight and - in my mind - time for everyone to leave. I think that none too secretly, all of my neighbours were miffed that I hadn't offered them tea but since the only running water in my apartment was coming our of a wall tile, tea drinking was not on the agenda. I could, however, have offered them a French omelette. Of course, offering tea is de rigueur in Turkey - we are even offered tea at the money exchange bureau in town - and I was clearly letting the home team down. (I am a bad host.)

The LESD advised us that the drunk plumber would be by at 10 a.m. to fix the problem, and that she and her boyfriend would be there to translate. At 10:45 the next morning, the (sober) plumber arrived with Leyla's husband, surveyed the situation, tinkered about, and p
opped out for a part (probably the metal thingy). Around 11:15 the LESD and her boyfriend were at the door. The plumber returned shortly and ta-dahhhhhh, the leak was fixed. We all smiled, shook hands, and went our separate ways - mine being to the bathroom to pee.

Mr This Cat and I are hoping/planning/expecting to leave this apartment by the end of the week. Good thing, he said. Why, I asked. The woman downstairs is due this week, he reminded me. Can you imagine having a newborn baby in the bedroom below ours? True, I thought. We'd all go barking mad.

3 comments:

Plumb Medics said...

thanks for your wonderful past. Did you make this stuff up, or am I just the wrong sort of plumber to encounter things like this???

This Cat's Abroad said...

Thanks! I'm thinking that unless you've encountered Turkish plumbing then you're probably the wrong sort of plumber!

Carrie said...

Hahah! This is a crazy time indeed. You can't make this kind of madness up. :P