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The Best Laid Plans


“Nothing in the world is more flexible and yielding than water. Yet when it attacks the firm and the strong, none can withstand it, because they have no way to change it. So the flexible overcome the adamant, the yielding overcome the forceful. Everyone knows this, but no one can do it." Lao Tzu.

I had a slight problem our first week in Dubai. We live in the desert. Although the transformation of Dubai means our skyline is constantly changing and it is becoming increasingly more challenging to count the malls, there is a little bit of sand left, mostly surrounding the area near my apartment. Because of the climate here, we wear sandals and open-toed shoes, and one has to walk somewhere, even if to the nearest road, to catch a cab. Therefore, my feet are always dirty by the end of the evening. Always.

I don't mind getting dirty, but I hate dirty feet and I despise the black marks they make on my new bathtub, in my new home. This is my first experience with anything close to living a luxurious life, and it's still new. Those of you who know me, know I love a hot bath, preferably every night. So every night, I had to wash my feet, and then clean the tub, and then take a bath.

However, after a couple of days, I got used to the fact that I have 2 1/2 baths, and I was enjoying using all of them. I would actually decide which water closet I wanted to use every time I needed to wash my hands or what have you. Utilizing the space in my elaborate flat was becoming fun.

So, I had a brilliant idea to use the blue bathroom to shower in, and the pink one for baths and as my main lavatory. This would solve two problems - by showering in the blue bathroom, I would no longer have to worry about the waterfall issue in the pink shower*, and I could just shower before I took a bath at night (it has gradually become more humid in the days after I arrived, and frequent bathing is essential).

As normal, I turned on the water heater approximately 30 minutes to an hour before I planned to shower. The pink bathroom has rockin' hot water, as does the kitchen, so I expected nothing less of the blue bathroom. (Each room has a separate hot water heater in the apartments in our building). I considered myself lucky because many from our crew were having hot water - or shall I say lukewarm water - issues.

I showered the first night, and my shower was lukewarm. The next day, I decided to leave the hot water heater on overnight for my morning shower. It was no warmer.

Everyone in our Al Barsha crew - Ann & Grant, Caira, Lee, Kelli & Adam, and I - had been calling maintenance for some reason or another in those two days. We figured out to leave our keys with the watchmen while we were at work during the day, so that deliveries and maintenance could have access to our flats and do what they deemed necessary. I called maintenance again and requested they increase the hot water in my guest bathroom. They'd done so for my coworkers, and it had worked. I also left a note with my key at the desk - "Binu - please make more hot water in the blue bathroom."

When I showered that night, the aqua was piping hot. I had my remedy for dirty feet, and a poorly designed bathtub.* Golden.

Or so I thought.

As I was showering yesterday morning, I heard a loud pop. The pop sounded hot. I know that seems like an inaccurate description, but that was the experience. I looked up, and water was coming out of the ceiling.

"I guess I am not shaving today." I turned off the water, got out of the tub, and proceeded to wash my face at the sink. The water was still coming. Steam began pouring from the ceiling. I turned off all the water in that bathroom, the lights and the water heater. I ran around trying to find something to put on that covered my shoulders and my knees and ran downstairs. On my way, I tried to call maintenance. The message said they arrive at 7:00. It was 6:45.

I got downstairs and I told the watchman. He seemed unconcerned. He told me to call Binu, our building's maintenance supervisor and walked me to an alcove where I thought I would find Binu but did not. Perhaps the guard just thought I would have better phone reception there. I reached Binu, who was not in the building, and told him the situation. He sounded like I had awoken him from sleep. He said he would come by. He also portrayed an attitude of disturbing nonchalance. I went back upstairs.

My bathroom was filling with water. It was not going down the drain. In our dear Al-Barsha building, each room that has water in it, has a drain. I called Binu again. He did not answer. I tried twice more. I got dressed. The bus was picking us up for work at 7:15. I was going to have to forgo breakfast - that disappointed me because I'd been looking forward to it all morning.

Once I was ready for the day, I tried to call Binu again - no answer. I got all my dirty towels - not many since my shipment had not yet arrived, and placed them between the bathroom and the guest room. Thank goodness neither my furniture nor my shipment was here yet. I went upstairs to get advice from Lee. She reminded me to get everything off the floor in the entire apartment - and to move my happy chaise as close to the balcony as possible. When I went upstairs, the water was in the guestroom. When I came back down, it was drifting into the hallway toward my bedroom.

I called Binu again. He answered.

"Water everywhere!" I said, following the 'eliminate all helping verbs, prepositions and pronouns rule'.** He said the technicians were already on their way, and he would call them and tell them the latest.

I went into the bathroom, drenching the bottom of my pants and getting rained on. I moved the drain cover - genius move - a little late - and heard the lovely sound of water draining, albeit too late.

The doorbell rang and the technicians rushed in with a ladder and some tools. I made a peanut butter sandwich. It was time to leave. I heard the water finally stop running from the ceiling. I picked up my bags, thanked the men, and went down to catch the bus for work.

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