Monday, October 26, 2009

Murphey's Law

In Kazakhstan, you can't procrastinate. Because if you do, then Murphey's Law will cause everything to go wrong.

Take, for example, the task of washing my hair. My host dad heats up the banya every Saturday, so I get a good bath once a week, but for the rest of the week I'm on my own. Greasy is the norm here, but I still feel the need to wash my hair once in the middle of the week. (That is, until I can find some baby powder. Apparently, comb a little of that through your hair, it soaks up all the grease, and you're good to go. One girl, in desperation, and without readily available baby powder, noted that the dirt on the side of the road is also fine and powder and rubbed that in her hair instead. As much as we laughed about it, her hair did look less greasy than mine.)

But for now, I still wash my hair twice a week. Normally, this process is simple, if time consuming. I heat up water in the tea pot on the stove, take it out to the banya building, and mix it in a bucket with cold water that I've carted in from the well in the yard. I have to be conservative, because one tea kettle of hot water doesn't go very far, and my back hurts after leaning over the bucket sitting on a low bench in the banya, but the whole process only takes about 30 minutes in total, so it's not too bad.

Well, it's not too bad until Murphey's Law comes into play. I haven't yet learned that I shouldn't wait until it's absolutely essential (ie, my hair is almost in dreadlocks) to wash my hair. One week, I put off the mid-week washing until Thursday night. Unfortunately, sitting at the dinner table that evening around 8pm, the power went out. We got out the candles, and finished our dinner, but I couldn't really bathe by candlelight. I decided to wait until morning, and woke up early to put the kettle on. I went to flip on the light, and found that the power was still out. I suppose I could have just worn my dreadlocks for the day (everyone here, at least my fellow PC trainees, would totally have understood.) But, getting creative, I took the cardboard out of the banya window that protects privacy, and then bathed as fast as I possibly could, jumping at every sound in fear that the neighbors were looking in.

Another week, I was silly enough to procrastinate until Friday morning. I got up early, to be sure to use the teapot before anyone wanted to drink their morning tea. Unfortunately, even a gas stove takes a long time to heat water, so by the time the water was hot Marzhan and my host mom were up. I graciously offered to let them drink tea first, then heat up the water again to take my bath. But when they went into the kitchen to get the water, they discovered why it had taken so long for my water to heat: we were out of gas. Gas here is not pumped into the houses through a line, but comes in big containers much like giant camping propane bottles. There would be no more hot water until the gas man drove by in his giant truck sometime later that week. Desperate, I washed my hair with cold water, but got a huge scolding for doing so because, apparently, anything cold will make you sick. So I guess that's the last time I'm doing that.

No comments:

Post a Comment