Sorry, but it's another "Saga"!

Well, as you all know, I just love the Egyptians! Especially when I'm in a hole and they are the "experts" at whatever my problem happens to be, the most recent example was the water system in our building!
I'm not going to bore you with the tale of why we don't have the water meter in our name yet, that's a story for another day, when it's all sorted out, (Insh'Allah). No, this is more about the plumber/electrician fraternity of Luxor.
Obviously, in our time here we've had dealings with many so-called "tradesmen" of all descriptions, and with all levels of skills. Like our (eventual) good carpenter who did our excellent meshrabeya work and then went and got himself drowned in the Red Sea somehow! It was very sad, and he is sorely missed, not least by Freda and I, as we have been looking ever since to find someone with his skill and attention to detail, to carry on with our improvement programme.
Anyway, back to the little water problem which has been vexing me for the past couple of days. a minute.
We've just had eleven days with no-one in the guest apartment, deliberately so, in order that we might manage to get a few little jobs done before we go home for our summer holidays. Painting the bedroom and hall, for instance, and deciding what we are going to do about replacing the living room curtains, or having a different idea about them altogether?
The bedroom needed doing, as so many guests bounce their suitcases off the walls and generally dirty the lovely yellow paintwork. (We had a young man a while ago, who left dirty footprints on the wall near to the bed!!) I was duly dispatched to the "Sipes" paint shop just down the street to purchase another can of "G084" computer mixed paint.

"Becam?" (How much?) I asked the chap. After putting the co-ordinates into the mixing computer he jabbed at his calculator and showed me the screen. "225 pounds??" said I, "La, la, la, it was 75 last time." After a few protestations from the staff and manager, I left. I hadn't wanted to paint anyway, I hate it!
Eventually, of course, I had to go back, but this time I took the old can just to make sure we were talking about the same material. I’m not as daft as I sometimes look! “Aha.” says the manager, and after a bit of fiddling with the paint computer and his trusty calculator, he turned the screen towards me and I read “95 pounds? Now that’s better!” The assistant duly mixed the paint (well the computer did anyway) and put it in the turning and shaking machine to give it a good mix up, and off I went, as happy as the proverbial “Larry”.
Next morning, while the sun was shining in the bedroom window, and we had good natural light to work with we set to and made sharp work of the three walls. “It looks very pale, and not very yellow,” complained the Boss. “It’s mixed by computer, you silly woman, it has to be right. Wait till it dries.”
How I wish that I’d learn to keep my trap shut! It just goes to show that Egyptian computers are about as reliable as Egyptian tradesmen!

The hall, consequently, got left for the time being, and then we decided that we didn’t have enough cash to do either of the things we’d had in mind regarding the living room windows/curtains.
On the tenth day, we had a water leak! It was dripping, quite steadily, from the automatic water pump switch. “Oooer,” I thought, “electricity and water don’t mix very well. This must be a job for Mr. Ramadan.” Mr. Ramadan is our “local” electrician, he works for “local people” although he’s never even heard of The League of Gentlemen, or Royston Vasey. He’s a very nice man, evidenced by the fact that he always spits into the corner when he’s indoors, and not into the middle of the room. Anyway, he’s adept at twisting wires together and making dirty handprints on the walls, so we have to make do.
He came and had a look, “Ahhhh, Meester Adwaaaard, Naguib mumkin Naguib!” It transpired that Mr. Naguib is a “local” plumber, who also works for “local people”, and before you ask (as I know you’re going to), no, he’s never heard of Royston Vasey either.
So, Naguib arrived, and looking as though he had no idea whatsoever of what he was doing, started to twist things with his pliers. After about a half hour, between the two of them, they decided that I needed a new “automa-tique” and a new balloon! Eventually, Adam (with the coffee shop across the street) translated that it was going to be about 250 pounds for the parts. I duly begged the money from the Boss and gave Ramadan 300. He left to acquire the bits and pieces as Naguib clarted-on trying to look as though he knew what he was about. Surprisingly, Ramadan came back with a 100 pound note and a bit of change! There’s a first time for everything, isn’t there?
(The balloon fills with water and is inside a metal tank which is pressurised with air, and it all works together with the pump to equalise pressures and deliver water up to our two floors, the third and fourth. This is just so that you don’t lose track of what is going on!)
As is his wont, Ramadan then led me by the hand to the tyre repair place to get the tank pressurised, I had to give the man two pounds fifty but now it could all go back together and be working that night before the guests arrived on the next day. Al Hamdulillah!
Naguib and Ramadan struggled manfully on and got everything back together, with no parts left over I’m pleased to report. And what’s more, it worked! The rest of Freda’s 300 went on 50 for Naguib, 40 for Ramadan, 8 for two packets of Cleopatra and 2 for two glasses of tea from Adam.
On Friday, the day of the new guests arrival, it all went wrong again! I had Naguib’s phone number, so I rang him. I was sure he’d understood that there was a problem, and I also understood that he was coming. Nevertheless, after the usual “hour” there was no sign of him. I needed someone to speak to him in Arabic, so that there was NO misunderstanding this time. Now then, English speaking Egyptians are like British policemen, never around when you want one!!!!! However, after a good while standing around on he corner and refusing at least twenty offers of "Caleche, caleche", our neighbour and friend Radwan, turned up. He rang for me, but Naguib was at home (it being the middle of the afternoon) and didn’t what to turn out, anyway he said there was nothing he would be able to do as it needed an electrician. Tried Ramadan, phone switched off! Time was getting on and I was nearly starting to panic. “I know! I’ll try young Ahmed with the little supermarket down the street.” This is Ahmed in his shop with Kezia, the eldest of our beautiful granddaughters.

Ahmed is Muslim, and the shop isn’t normally open on Friday, but it’s just down the street and worth a chance. Did I say that Ahmed is also a plumber? (But not a strictly “local” one.) Ten to four, and the guests are due about a quarter to seven. He was there, and could come in a half hour, “Promise!” (not even an insh’Allah).
I was of the impression that the “automa-tique” just needed adjustment, and Ahmed, bless his heart, is about as professional as you can find in Luxor! “We’ll be alright after all,” I thought to myself (foolishly). He poked about at the Schrader tyre valve in the top of the metal tank for a bit, and then told me that there was no pressure there. Ignoring my protests that I had just paid 300 pounds to have a new balloon fitted, Ahmed, and some strange boy he brought along, got buckled in and removed the whole tank, balloon and all. Off they went on his motor bike to get it blown up. I kept saying to him, “Where has the air gone which was put in yesterday?” but to no avail, his shopkeepers English doesn’t stretch that far. They came back with exclamations of “Ta’mam, Mr. Adwaaard, ta’mam” (good). It went back together without further ado, and worked again. Ta’mam indeed.
The guests arrived in the meantime, and Freda walked up to the station to meet them and lead them home. At last, something was going right!
But, as per usual, not for long!!!!!!!
Later on, we could hear the water pulsing as the pump rapidly switched itself on and off when the taps were opened. It was then that I decided that ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! I would take the job on myself, in the morning after the guests had gone out.
I had just a little sleep after serving breakfast and washing the dishes, and then got cracking! It came to bits relatively easily, but standing on the stairwell wall wasn’t the best place to realise just how heavy the tank full of balloon and water actually was.

I dropped it! It now had a big dent in the side, which I was sure would have cracked the weld or something, but it hadn’t. After emptying all the water out, I trudged off to the tyre repair man to get the tank pressurised, and then tested in his bath of water, there must be a leak somewhere? Sure enough, there was a pinhole in the metal tank and the air was pouring out. At last, I felt I was getting somewhere, and promptly stuffed five pounds into the man’s unwilling hand. (That was a first!)
The next problem was telling the Boss that I needed a new tank, which would knock her budget for six, for sure! In the event, I got the welder man across the street to braze it for 15 pounds (after knocking him down from 20), But it shouldn’t have been more that ten really. Never mind! Then back to the tyre man, pressurised, and tested all AOK!! (Free this time.) I put it back together using P.T.F.E. tape on the pipe joints instead of the string fibres that the Egyptians use, and apart from a couple of very slight “weeps” which just need a pair of big Stillsons to tighten them up, everything seems to work now. If you click twice on the picture you'll see the repair, fascinating, eh?

The shower I needed afterwards was a delight, a constant pressure, not too hard and not too soft, just like the Baby Bear’s bed in Goldilocks, and that’s just where I’m going now.

No comments:

Post a Comment