Sunday, 10 May 2009

Hot water hydrophobia

At some point (probably right now, if I'm lucky) the hot water in my apartment building will be turned off for about two weeks. I've never figured out the official reason for this, but it might be because the hot water is on CONSTANTLY all year round in every building, meaning they need to shut it off a district at a time to do maintenance. Russians joke that it's because "the plumbers go on holiday."

Those lucky enough to have either water heaters or are going away on holiday won't suffer the bone-chilling misery. I tried to wash during cold-water season on two occasions. It's impossible and it's not character building, though one esoteric character I met put it rather neatly, with something along the lines of "Well, you know, years ago, they never had warm water like today, so I don't see why it's hard," and used it as an obscure form of meditation. He's a good chess player. I also taught him poker.

So abandoning philosophical musings I'll either be reduced to using the kettle and the sink, or just not washing. Hopefully it'll start when I'm not working. On occasion, both the cold and hot water are known to go off completely in the building due to people doing something called Ремонт (Remont, which are repairs, literally, but when applied to apartments it means a complete overhaul). The revolting Soviet-era infrastructure (rusty pipes, bad wiring etc...) and uncomfortable furniture are often swept away in favour of IKEA-esque refinements (Moscow has at least two IKEAs - and a couple of H&Ms, finally), which are usually just as crappy, but do work much better (especially depending on the age of your apartment building i.e. Krushchev-era, Brezhnev-era etc...). Usually when the water goes off like that it's when you're trying to do something important, like flushing your recent contribution to the sewerage system down the loo.

The only other way of avoiding such a fate is get into a disastrous short-term relationship that at least affords you the opportunity of using their hot water. Then just break up once yours comes back on.

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