Tuesday, April 04, 2006

(cold) water, (cold) water everywhere...

Ominous signs over the last couple of days in my flat. The hot water is taking longer and longer to come through and this normally signifies the Kyrgyz government’s annual turn-off-the-hot-water-for-a-month-athon in order to teach its citizens the value of a brisk cold shower. Actually, I don’t think that is the reason, though I’m still not a hundred per cent sure why for one month in the spring every year they turn off the hot water here. Some say it’s to carry out major repairs on the pipes (is that easier when there’s no hot water?), others that they need to conserve water before the demands of the tourist season kick in (can you actually conserve hot water – god I know nothing about these things?).

Whatever. It’s bloody inconvenient, especially for a pampered, spoilt overgrown schoolboy like myself. For a month the house is a constant haze of steam and humidity as the only way to generate hot water is to boil pans on the stove. Having a bath is an exercise in patience and muscular strength as it takes a good five or six large pots of water to fill the tub to a point where it’s licking your ankles. The first few years I was here I used this kind of portable heat sink thingy. You know, it’s like the thing you have at the bottom of the kettle for heating the water (you may be gathering by now that I’m not a science major), except bigger and with a handle and a plug. You have to fill the bath up with cold water, then stick this thing in it and plug it in and it heats it up. It’s frickin’ lethal. You have to remember to unplug it every time you want to stick your hand in the water to check it. And it takes forever as well. I was always scared that I was going to forget to unplug it and I was going to be found dead, slumped naked over the bath with big Einstein hair. That’s not how I want to be remembered, so in the end I stopped using it.

I know in the grander scheme of things this isn’t terribly bad, not like living in the deserts of Africa or the jungles of South America. But hey, that’s why I never volunteered to work in places like that: I like the cool feel of ceramic on my buttocks when I go to toilet and the assurance that when I turn on a lightswitch I’m going to get light. And I like to have hot water as well. Anyhow, the whole purpose of this is to explain to people why I’m likely to be a grumpy bugger over the next month. Don’t say I didn’t warn you…


Blogger Jamie said...

I used to live in Karakol (actually coming back this summer) and I had forgotten all about the cold water! I remember waking up one morning, getting in the shower and there being absolutely not a drop of warm water anywhere to be found. Everyone told me why it was happening, but it never made any sense to me.

9:07 pm  
Blogger David Read said...

Welcome back to Kyrgyzstan - and if you're coming in the summer, at least you'll miss the month of no hot water...

8:52 am  
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