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
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:
It was now about midnight and - in my mind - time for everyone to leave. I think that
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 popped 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.