I haven’t talked about the dorm for a while. I could have. There is, in fact, a story coming up underneath this paragraph, but I didn’t want to complain for the sake of complaining, without a compelling story to go along with it. Well. Now I have a story. You can tell me if it’s compelling or not.
Many moons ago (I honestly just sat at the computer staring at my September calendar, trying to remember which day it happened, and can’t remember exactly when) – approximately three and a half weeks ago I came home to two strange men in my blok [my personal hallway. Let me explain by drawing you into my room. We leave the elevator and walk down to the end of the hallway, to the “fire exit” (helpfully chained shut, which is normal in Russia). Open the last door on the right, and that’s my personal hallway (3’x4’, max). Clockwise from 9 o’clock: door to the other room (currently empty), my door, door to water closet, door to bathroom)]. It was in this personal hallway that I saw the two strange men. They chiseled away all of the paint and plaster on my bathroom walls and left me shower-less.
Technically, the dorm mother said, I could take a bath there. (In reality, I would never let more than the bottoms of my feet touch that tub. So I’ve been taking showers at Planet Fitness, or begging Briullov-Jude-Bill&Pete for their continued hospitality and water supply. It’s been vaguely uncomfortable, but could have been much worse.) She continued: “But when it’s all done it’ll be all the better! Prosto nado terpet’. [One just has to be patient.]
I probably said something along the lines of Da, da, nichego, vse normal’no -- terpliu. [Oh yeah, sure, it’s nothing – I can be patient.] Inside I was thinking something more like, “If I knew you also were without a bathroom I’d be able to agree with you on waiting more readily.”
When I left for the library today another two men were in, taking out the old tub and bringing in a new one. “Great!” I thought, excited, but still weary Russia-wise. “Progress! Now only a couple more weeks before I have a bathroom back! Exclamation point!”
I returned home and first thing opened the bathroom door to see what progress they’d made. The new tub was in, but I quickly realized that while there were pipes leading to the faucet, there were no longer any pipes leading to the drain. I also noticed a great many plaster panels on the ground, and couldn’t figure out where they came from. And then I noticed something that looked like the tank to my toilet. Suddenly I could think of where the other panels came from.
Cue sinking feeling to enter, stomach center. I opened the water closet door and saw just the lower portion of the toilet. No tank. Oh, and behind the toilet a gaping hole, like a Ghostbusters abyss had just opened up. Any time someone asks you if you’re a god, you say YES!
I thought: No, it’s ok, I can still make this work. Russia is like camping, after all. My mind already raced through a couple of possibilities for living, which I don’t feel are suitable to repeat in a public forum.
I turned next to enter my own room and saw a note to the handle of my door in the door mother’s handwriting. “Great,” I thought. “A quick note to say, ‘It’ll be that much better when it’s done! Nado terpet’”
Oh, so excited. Oh, so much better. Endriu! U vas net vody. Polzuetes’ dushom v 505m bloke. [Andrew! You have no water. Use the shower in Room 505.] Attached is a key to the personal hallway across the hall.
Oh. Yes. Oh. I can take a shower in the morning! Oh, to shave at a sink! Oh, the humanity!
Ia v vostorge. I’m ecstatic. [Or, as I recall someone saying: “I’m on ecstasy!”]
Speaking of ecstasy, it cracks me up every time a Russian says narkotiki. They get this devilish gleam in their eye like they’re saying a naughty word. At the theater today an actor reciting a poem finished one line with the word: narkotiki, and blew a cloud of white powder out of his hand. The whole crowd teetered and tee-hee’ed as if presented with a risqué quadruple entendre.
6 months ago