Tuesday, June 03, 2008

In Hot Water: And That's a Very GOOD Thing

Come summertime in Russia and there’s no guarantee about the water. In any neighborhood, even in the finest hotels, there's no guarantee. It's not that there’s a water shortage. But from time to time, water will be turned off for days – the hot water may be off, the cold water off or all water off – and it’s absolutely unavoidable.

The reason? Repair of the underground water pipes. Come warm weather, it’s time to dig holes in the ground and repair the pipes. And welcome to Russia, the land of pipes under repair.

Witness the front yard of the building in which I live.

Let's have a gander at the pipes. Yep, those pipes could probably use some spiffyin' up. Or. . .what do you think?

But oh the joy, the absolute delight when yesterday afternoon, we got our hot water back. The first hot water here in ten days. What an absolute luxury.

Look at that, will you? And it even looks hot, doesn't it?

Ever tried bathing out of a teacup? Or perhaps from a mixing bowl? That’s the usual during a water crisis. Heat the water up on the stove, pour it into a bowl and drag that and a pitcher of hot water into the bath. . .

Got myself a nice, new water heater.

When we're without hot water, I feel bonded to my roots in rural Ohio and farm life as my mother knew it back in the 1930's and 40's. You’ve heard about the Saturday evening bath routine when folks heated up water on the stove, poured it into big galvanized tubs and then bathed by turn. So I get to do that too, except have the luxury of having the water all to myself.

(This space reserved for a life-on-the-farm photo. . .)

One more thing to appreciate about the Russian people, they don't complain about about water problems. They’re just accustomed to it.

See, nobody in my building is particularly upset. They're probably still asleep. After all, it's not even 6:00 yet.

And nobody there is losing sleep about the water cut-offs. That's because they're prepared. People squirrel away some water for times such as this.

Well, water or no, we've still got that big hole out front.

Not to worry though. At least now there's a barrier up around it. The hole was dug a week before anything was put up around it and I was a little nervous about all that. But a nice, warm bubble bath and all such worries will go down the drain.

How about you dear blog reader? Ever been traveling, say, to Eastern Europe, and had no water? How did you manage?

1 comment:

Jonathon said...

Gday Eileen,

Yes I've also experienced a 10-day hot water outage while I was living in Kirov .. at least Rostov is a little closer the equator :)

It turns out that those big Soviet style apartment blocks are heated by the dodgey-looking hot water pipes that run (very conspicuously) through every room. And the hot water is piped-in by a nearby utility building that supplies all the hot water to several huge, neighboring apartment blocks.

The temperature in the rooms can get quite warm to the point where we were wearing shorts and t-shirts while it was -30C (negative) degrees outside. But when it comes to summertime no-one wants that amount of heat in their apartment, so the utility building that manages the hot water service has to switch off the hot water that runs through the pipes in the apartments.

The problem is no one does this very quickly! well, where I was living anyway. For some reason they have to shut down the whole hot water service for 10 days, re-route it through the correct pipes, and then turn it back on. I don't know why it takes them 10 days.. hey, thats russia, and I wouldn't have minded so much except that they initiated the transition way too early while it was still freezing outside.

I have to agree with you, the process of washing oneself with water heated on the stove is a great experience. Makes you appreciate every last little drop!

Warm regards,