Prosecards from the Edge (of a Continent)

A running commentary on my life in Izmir, Turkey...and other thoughts.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Time Out To Scream

Okay, can I just have a minute to rant a bit? This has nothing to do with my Turkey experiences, but it's driving me nuts and I've got to get it off my chest. Ever had a really bad day, where just EVERYTHING seems to be going wrong? One of those where the negative energy produced by one mishap actually seems to spill over and actually cause others? Well, it's been a bit like that the last couple of days...

We have two computers, a desktop and a laptop. The desktop seems to have suffered a bit of brain damage en route to Turkey, and is now functioning very slowly and refusing to bring up a web page, even though it claims it is connected (we're using wireless). We've resorted to every trick we know, including calling help desks and other professionals, to no avail. On top of that, this PC has a cordless keyboard and mouse which are barely alive -- you have to thump them to get them to do anything at all, and usually it's the wrong thing...forget about actually typing anything. I had to hit the letter P approximately 15 times before a P actually appeared on the screen, just by way of example. I bought two sets of new batteries for keyboard and mouse, but got no improvement in performance. I even went out and bought more batteries, in case the cheapos I had bought were duds, but no change in performance. Obviously the problem lies elsewhere. Unfortunately, lots of useful programs (like Photoshop and MS Office) and data (like all my docs and pictures) reside on this USELESS machine.

The laptop, on the other hand, does connect to the internet. Unfortunately, a while ago it had a complete meltdown and we had to remove all its programs, reinstall the operating system, etc. Now I've got an operating system that speaks Turkish (marvelous!) and no programs at all, so when I want to, say, type a Word doc or open an Excel spreadsheet, I can't! Why don't I just reinstall the programs, you ask? Because I can't find the CD! And I won't even go into the mental acrobatics I've had to go through trying to adjust browser settings in Turkish, not being particularly technically inclined in the first place. As if that weren't enough, the laptop has only one USB port, which is being used by the wireless internet connector thingy, so if you want to upload something from a memory stick to the internet, for example, you have to disconnect the internet, upload your data from the memory stick onto the laptop's hard drive, remove memory stick and reconnect the internet. The same procedure applies to printing, of course -- want to print something off the internet? You have to save the pages (and their pictures, too!) somewhere to the computer, disconnect the internet, plug in the printer, and print. On a side note, when you DO finally manage to print something out, the printing quality is lousy -- our good laser printer mysteriously disappeared from the moving van on the way from Germany to Turkey, and all we're left with is this ancient InkJet into which you have to feed paper one sheet at a time. Grr.

Did I mention that the laptop is also prone to overheating, and shuts itself off every 20 minutes? No? It's burning a hole in my jeans as I write this.

The chaos has not limited itself to the computing sphere. Turkish law says that when you bring a foreign mobile phone into the country, you must report it at the customs office and pay a (hefty) duty, something like 50% of the purchase price, which is ridiculous -- particularly if your phone, like mine, has already developed a bit of brain damage and is nearing the end of its useful life. If you don't pay this duty, They will find out and, at some point, have your phone blocked and made utterly useless. This happened to me a couple of days ago, throwing an enormous monkey wrench into my life and forcing me to think back to how things were done before mobiles (I'm still scratching my head on that one). Nevertheless, I took a deep breath, straightened my spine, and thought "I can handle this," until yesterday, when for some inexplicable reason our home telephone was shut off. Something to do with an automatic payment not being quite so automatic, if you know what I mean. Did I mention that a while earlier, our doorbell had mysteriously ceased functioning? Well, it did, so even when I cleverly managed to use internet telephony (thank god, they didn't disconnect the internet!) to call out and order water (I'll explain that some other time), I realized that I wouldn't know when the delivery came, because we had no doorbell!! I therefore spent a good couple of hours on the balcony, on the lookout for a water delivery man. Fortunately, I caught him -- as he was just leaving.

Just to top off the whole ensemble, last night our toilet broke. Broke, in a way that I have never seen a toilet break. Water simply began pouring out the bottom of the reservoir onto the floor. The water wasn't coming through a leaky seal, or through a crack in the pipe -- it seemed to actually be seeping through the porcelain itself. Sound strange? It does to me, too, but I swear that's what's happening. So now we have jerry-rigged a system whereby the reservoir remains empty due to the little floaty thing being secured in a position that makes it think the tank is full, and when you absolutely have to flush, you lower the floaty, wait an eternity for the tank to fill up (all the while watching half of the water landing on the floor and trying desperately to contain it with buckets and towels), stick your hand into the reservoir and pull the string to flush, then re-rig the floaty into the previous position to stop the tank from filling. You may be wondering why we didn't just turn off the water supply to the toilet? A sensible thing to do -- unfortunately, the valve was completely rusted over and would not be turned, under any circumstances.

To summarize: I can't compute (really) , call, send text messages, receive visitors or flush the toilet. My Turkish-speaking better half has gone off to Germany. My knowledge of the language here is so limited that I can't really even be enterprising and try to find people to deal with these issues. (How would I, anyway? Can't call them!!!) I am effectively a prisoner in my own home, convinced that if I should leave the house, something will inevitably go amiss with the door lock, and then something worse will happen...I'll be a prisoner out of my own home. Feel for me, people. =:-/


At 7:13 PM, Anonymous Mum said...

This is probably not the response you were looking for, but your description of life in Turkey sent me into fits of laughter--it is SO very similar to the situations we non-native-language-speaking expats encounter every day living in China! Welcome to the wonderful world of third-world cultures. (I know, I know...both the Turks and the Chinese would be furious to be considered "third world"... but that's reality!)

At 7:45 PM, Anonymous fl.grossmann said...

Ludwig says…

I'm with your mom. Most of the world does not even HAVE flush toilets, so be happy you needn't walk down the street to the public facilities. The young ladies on the way to the market near my home in Addis Ababa used to do squat potty by my wall. Come to think of it, so does the band I play with in France! Only we don't squat.

However, to help with your problem, think of the working of a toilet logically. The "flush" part comes from a load (that could be phrased better) of water moving down the drain. Get a bucket at the market, have it constantly full from the tub/sink/gunga din and when you have completed your morning's morning, just dump half of it into the bowl. Voila! Also, start putting a few drops of oil on the faucet every day, and just let it settle in. Cooking oil will do if you forgot to pack 3-in-1. When you get back to work on that, you/the plumber will be glad you did that.


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