Tuesday, May 1, 2012

My Apartment: A Love/Hate Relationship

Can I really have a relationship with my apartment?  Isn't hate a really strong word that I don't especially like, or like to use.....  No, (well maybe) to the first and yes to the second question.  However, my apartment/home/place of refuge/rest and relaxation for the past two years has been at times,  both a blessing and a curse.

ah the windows!!!

some of my seedlings

This apartment has been so good to me in so many ways... it's convenient location, close to both my school and dorm, shopping, and the town center; it's excellent heating system, it's coziness, it's toilet and cold running water, it's south facing windows (heavy sigh).   I have been blessed with water I don't have to fetch (like so many people without running water who have to have to cart or carry jerry cans to the local well, fill them up, pay for them and carry them home here), electricity that mostly works, a functioning toilet (though it didn't work for periods of time at least it's not an outhouse!), heat that I don't have to work for (making and tending a fire like most house and ger dwellers) and those glorious windows which have allowed me to grow many plants, enjoy fresh herbs and salads and bask in the abundant sunshine!

Now the biggest complaint/pain/hate part of this relationship, is my front door.... innocuous enough looking, isn't it?  Well, let me tell you that this door has caused me much cursing and anxiety, though conversely has sorta helped in the area of patience.  The problem is the door is a little warped, and the working lock is that bottom one..... It's not centered on the door, the locks are poorly made, and currently I am on replacement lock #9.... That's right; in 20 months of living in this apartment, my locks have a shelf life of a little over two months!  I think every single male employee of the dorm and school have assisted in changing a lock.  I have a reputation as the foreigner who keeps breaking her door lock:(  The worst times have been when I was away and others were watering my plants and the lock broke... Yes, this has occurred 3 times... Yikes!  Not only a pain in the arse for me, but also my thoughtful plant minding friends as well.

The bathroom is not a bathroom at all.  In fact what I have is a toilet in a closet.  Yes, I guess the Brits would call it a water closet.  Exactly what it is.  The large pink tub I placed on the floor is called a tumpen and it's what I bathe in.  Filling the tub with partly boiling hot water then mixing in cold tap water to get to just the proper bathing temp, I ladle the water on me with the red scoop in the tub.  Ah..some days I long for a shower.  Many apartments here do have showers, and some of my friends reside in them.  I am just not comfortable showering in someone else's house.  To the left of the toilet is the water valve which is currently leaking again and usually has a big bowl under it to catch the drips.  This valve actually started dripping last spring after I thoughtfully turned the water off and on with it, as my kitchen tap (my only sink) broke yet again (it's on number 4) and rather than waste water, I'd shut it off.  Because it was soon summer vacation, and I was lax in nagging to quickly get it fixed (the art of which I have mastered with the front door lock), I ended up using the valve all summer.  My visiting sister will attest to this inconvenience.  So, now the pipe leaks again, after having it repaired once as well as the toilet.  The pull/flush on the toilet was finally replaced after it was fixed three times. 

Speaking of the kitchen sink, I didn't include a photo of it, but suffice it to say, it's so small, that I don't even wash dishes in it, though it's good for washing your hands, brushing your teeth and even washing your hair.  Thank goodness for cold running water!

the electrical hub in my entry way

This electrical box thingy is very scary looking but just a brief glance into the world of electricity in a developing country.  Mind you, my apartment building is old and built in the Soviet era.    Thus far, I have had the following electrical calamities:  The light switch in the bedroom pulled out of the wall and disconnected, twice the only outlet in my room has malfunctioned (right now it's pulled out of the wall because it's clear across the room from my bed and the long extension cord was stretched just a little too much),once the same outlet had a sudden jolt of electricity and fried.  Both my kitchen outlets have fried at separate times, and had to be replaced.  The kitchen light (my bare bulb) zapped and stopped working .  OK, fairly minor incidents....

 The framed picture is of the 4 lucky animals (Buddhist), an elephant, monkey, hare and bird and the multi colored hadags (scarves) are to bring good luck.  I think they are working.... My apartment hasn't burned down, totally flooded or been broken into.  It really has been a home, sweet home to me:)

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