Tuesday, November 21, 2006

New Home, New Problems

Новый дом, новый проблемы! was the phrase with which the dialogue from section one of my first-year Russian textbook ended. The tenants in one apartment had a shower, but wanted a bath; in another, the reverse; and none of them had hot water. The landlord's response, complete with shrug -- be thankful we all have new apartments! But, new home, new problems!

I successfully moved into my own place on the first of November and celebrated my housewarming this past weekend. Two rooms all to myself (as my fellow students keep reminding me), a cozy kitchen, a tiny bath. After three separate trips to IKEA, one delivery, the help of my friends and my former hosts, and a lottalotta hours of alone-time cleaning, scrubbing, washing and organizing (not to mention putting that IKEA furniture together), the place looks pretty darn good. For anyone who's really interested, I can send a powerpoint virtual tour your way.

I am such a homebody that the organization of my castle is very important to me. I'm fairly impressed that I was able to do as much as I did in the two-three weeks since I moved in. That said, no matter how much one plans, one cannot foresee everything that could go wrong.

I signed up for telephone and internet service two weeks before I even moved in. Due to complicated circumstances that even the phone company can't explain, they cancelled my application and then never notified me. This means the weeks that I was patiently waiting for service I was in fact waiting in vain, because they weren't coming. At all. Now I've signed up again and will be waiting another two-three weeks before it's finally connected. Which brings me to another Russian phrase, one my Novgorod host family invented after living with me -- без интернета, без рука (internetless, armless [in a sense, helpless]).

I turned my heat off last week because temps were in the balmy 60s -- we had a couple days of really wonderful, non-November weather. When it turned cold and rainy again this week, I cranked the units in my bed- and living rooms back on. But nothing happened. Finally, when the indoor temperature had crept down to 50 degrees, I headed (actually limped, but that is another story) down to the landlord and asked if he knew why my heat wouldn't be working. He came up and looked at my water boiler -- my heating units run on warm water, heated by gas -- and noted that the gauge (of what, I'm still not sure) was on zero. He told me to turn it off (Sunday night) and that he would call around for repairmen in the morning. When I checked with him Monday afternoon, he said I was to call the building's owner, and warned me it would probably take awhile to be fixed. When I called the building's owner that night (from a payphone, as I still have no home phone), he said he'd given the apartment's former tenant the number to call -- hadn't she gotten in touch with me? So it wasn't until Tuesday morning that I got the repair firm's number, and it's not until Wednesday when I have free time for them to come and make the repair. Let's hope it's nothing elaborate, as I am gone Thursday through Monday for a seminar in Kosovo.

The heat being off is more of an annoyance than anything -- one can sleep (as I have been) in multiple socks, shirts, and with long underwear. But the creature comfort of hot water is one I find it difficult to live without. Assuming it's fixed tomorrow, it will have been five days without a shower. No record, but I do have to go out into the world as well. And it's not a good idea to head to a country in reconstruction and overall development without having showered either.

The funniest thing of all is that anyone reading my post who still thought I was in St. Petersburg would probably just shrug off the complications I'm facing. I have, in fact, faced similar problems while living in Russia. But this is Germany. It's not supposed to be like this here!

Happy happy Turkey Day to everyone. This is not the first time I'll be away from my family, but it will be the first time that I won't be able to celebrate the day, as I'll be flying to Kosovo and our program goes late into the evening. So enjoy your time with family and friends and send a few pumpkin-pie thoughts my way.


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