Thursday, September 30, 2010

Minor Inconveniences - September 29th, 2010

Minor Inconveniences

Let’s see now.

Some of you, I hope most of you, are thinking: “This guy is living in a paradise. He is the luckiest bugger alive!”

And you would be mostly right.

I would just like to reassure you all that our perfect exotic life does have its share of minor inconveniences.

So here they are:

No water. Water delivery to our house for washing is sporadic. It comes and goes. And comes and goes. And goes. And goes. This week so far we have not had water for 2 days. Most of the neighbours do not have water.

The way water works (or does not work) here is this: we have a cistern in the garden that fills slowly, with almost no pressure, from the city supply. Then it is pumped into the house. When the cistern is empty the pump just turns on itself, like the computer in the old Star Trek episode trying to find the square root of pie because Spock told it to do that so as to paralyze it from performing malevolent actions. I digress. Sorry. I have no water with which to wash and it’s 45 degrees in the damned shade so if I digress that’s my bloody problem, o.k.? You got a problem with that? Then you call the Vientiane municipality and you deal with it!!!

Our landlord called them, or so he says.

The good part is that down the dirt path there are people living in a hut. They spend a good part of the evening drinking with their particularly unattractive girlfriends listening to heartfelt, soul-fending synthetic music about love’s true treason and the temporary nature of satisfaction. Sometimes, when the combination of cheap whisky and Pepsi gets too much, they will sing along. But, these people – the nerve of them – have water!!! They have a well.

And so last night, after a hard evening teaching Sociology to an amphitheatre full of empty-as-moon faces I came home and took an empty bucket over.

First I had to use the bucket to beat back their dogs, but once I got through that first line of defense, I was greeted in true Lao PDR fashion: sit down, have a beer, speak no Lao, speak no English. Touch glasses: Canada Number One! Laos Number One! More beer, more soulful music, the unattractive girls not at all improved by alcohol consumption, which is a universal first.

In the end, they filled up my bucket and I was able to go home and take a rudimentary shower of shorts, pump up the AC and fall asleep.

Our immediate neighbours, the tenement house, also have no water. I am thinking, this is the poorest part of a very rich area and we are screwed here.

The next morning we still had no water and I went back to fill up my bucket. The really horrible girls were no longer there and that’s a shame because this time I brought my camera, but here are some photos of the guy’s courtyard and his wife. Then something weird happened. His wife used to be the may ban in our house and they came over and turned on the pump that I had turned off because it was turning on empty and for some strange reason the water went on.

This makes no sense, since the pump’s function is to pump from the cistern to the house and not from the….aaaaargggghhhhhh!!!!!

And still no water is arriving in the house. Now all the neighbours have gotten together to sit around and wait for the water. The neighbour’s well is now dry. No one complains, no one bitches, no one makes phone calls to scream at the water company. So un-Canadian. Canada, Number One! Laos Number One!

In desperation I have placed a bucket of water under the air-conditioner outside so the condensed water will drip into it. Maybe I’ll be able to wash a plate in a few hours.

Another minor inconvenience is the ants that invade every piece of protein or starch available to them. If you leave a bit of rice to cool down you have got to be faster than they are. I don’t want to spray the surfaces with insecticide so I am looking everywhere for ant traps. No can find. No have. Solly.

If any charitable souls hear my desperate call, our mailing address is


B.O.P. 5704

Central Post Office

Vientiane Capital


Let’s see, what else? Oh yes, our container is blocked in Bangkok because I still don’t have a working visa for Laos. My employers, the Lao American College (who thought it would be a good idea if I taught Sociology…) is taking care of that, which is a God-send. But they have no idea how long it can take. When I ask them how long it usually takes, they just laugh.

The kind of laugh that says, “you have no idea what you are dealing with”, and makes me fear the worst.

I guess that’s about it. Life is pretty groovy otherwise, if only I could flush the toilets…

1 comment:

  1. i am a follower now! i will know when you will be able to flush the toilets.