Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I hear the noise of many waters


Once upon a time, if you had lived for any duration  in Turkey, at least once, you'd have encountered the following scenario. I am not sure how often this happens nowadays. Nobody likes to discuss it and humiliate themselves- like I do.

Suddenly in the middle of the night, awakened from your dreams of laying on an Aegean beach, you hear frantic Fluffy mewing for a lifesaver. And you step out of bed and into... a puddle. A cold black pool of water. Papers floating lazily around the room like square clouds. Bedroom slippers bob like unmanned dinghies. And this deluge extends down the hall and into the kitchen or bathroom. The last hours of Atlantis! Visions of the Titanic! How did this disaster happen?

You run to the kitchen and find your answer. You have left the faucet wide open, like a complete imbecile. This calls into serious doubt your standing as a reasonable responsible adult, capable of living in a world of dangerous everyday risks and hazards. You need your momma.

You spend the next two, three or four hours with cold wet towels and a mop and bucket, broken-heartedly assessing all the losses. The water-soaked clothes. Perfectly good shoes you bought last year in New York. The precious books, now water-soaked, bloated and bulging, look like second-hand concertinas. The rug you bought in Cappadocia. (And then- thank the lord- the extension cord is not in the water. If it had, you would be doing quite a final jig.)

The beautiful hardwood floor? How proud your were. However, you can't worry about it. Your brain is saturated with grief and anyway, it will take a week to learn if the water has or has not destroyed the Parke. A small fortune to replace, you whisper.

The doorbell rings. It is your neighbor downstairs. He tells you that YOUR water is dripping into HIS apartment. Sympathetic looks and self-pitying tears will hardly placate his anger. He storms away, clicking his tongue, muttering vague demands of compensation. Another neighbor steps out into the hall, "N'oldu?" she asks, trying to peer into your devastated wetlands.

Now... stop. Before you beat yourself up too badly, you might keep in mind that almost every expat I've met has done this very stupid thing. You turned on the faucet, found no water and walked away with the faucet still wide open.

Most people coming from other yabanci lands, when they turn on the faucet, know that water will come gushing out. When they hit a switch, the lights will come on. It is a fact of life, something you just take for granted.

It always comes as a mighty rude shock when all you get is a long dying gasp of an empty water pipe. (Or a hollow clicking of the switch.) Maybe they are doing work on the street below. Maybe you, naughty you, forgot to pay your water/electric bill.

Your tired mind leaps off to all your complaints about being far from home and exasperated, you go into another room, to get to bottom of this. Maybe it is late and you decide you will have to investigate the matter the following morning. Too tired to think about it now. Or maybe you are late for work and you just don't have the time to solve this water shortage problem. In any case, you walked away, mindlessly leaving the faucet open.

Oh well. Rest assure you are not the first traveler to have flooded his/her own apartment. It is not completely your fault. You, unlike the majority of people in this world,  just happen to have been born in a land and a time of dependable supply.


  1. Oh I know what you mean..I think every Turk experienced this at least once in a lifetime. Once my mom changed the furniture of the entire dining room and living room.

  2. I thought it only happened to expats! Thanks for telling me. I have done it once I know. Now that I come to think of it, my own parents flooded our house one time with a faulty dishwasher. We learned never to turn a dishwasher while we slept. All the carpeting had to be replaced in the salon.


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