Last week I made a friend. (Stop with the violins!)
I met her at the local expat women’s coffee morning by sitting at the first empty seat I found and that was next to her.
Now I am not prone to going to these as most times it feels like I’m sitting in a kindergarten with little ones running around or babies squealing for a feed.
I love kids, ask my grandchildren, but as they say, it is easier to put up with their noise than a stranger’s.
What I needed was a nice chat, someone to bring home to dinner.
Valerie asked me where I lived.
Surprised, she told me she lived a minute’s walk away. Across from me sat her friend, Celeste who announced that she can see my place from her house.
Now we were three!
A few days later, Bill and I went to church with Valerie’s family and then we all joined Celeste’s family for lunch at a nice venue.
The following day, I invite Valerie and her family for a Greek feast!
My recent gift to myself – a 60 litre bench top oven is put to good use making spanakopita and moussaka.
The electrical circuit trips.
Push up the button and start again.
The oven starts tripping the circuit board.
My guests are due to arrive and I put my maid on standby at the circuit board.
Quickly, I call for the estate’s electrician who arrives promptly and fiddles with the circuit board.
In the midst of making hommous, I hear a rumble and turn to see flashes, arc-ing and smoke.
My new oven is kaput, my food barely cooked and my guests arrive at the door.
I start having a go at Babu, the electrician who waves his hands violently as if he’s cracking a Bollywood move, speaks loudly in Hindi and does everything but cross himself in self-defence.
Thankfully, I have also prepared jumbo keftethes – more-ish meatballs which we eat with salad, hommous and crusty bread. (Get invited to a Greek’s house and there will always be plenty to eat!)
The oven is still under warranty so I let Babu leave in one piece and note to myself to not have him fix anything around here again.
Frankly, you must have a great sense of humour around ‘technicians’ here.
They turn up at the door with one tool in hand.
The electrician arrives with a screw driver.
The plumber comes with a wrench.
Everything else they need to repair the work must be suppled (and paid for) by you.
Your light’s not working?
The first thing the electrician asks for is a ladder.
When you offer him a dining chair because, as an expat living in an apartment, you don’t think to pack a ladder in your belongings, he clicks his tongue and raises his eyebrows at you, like you’re some sort of misfit.
The carpenter turns up with his hammer and looks to you for nails.
The carpenter arrives to fix the curtain rail back into the wall.
He turns and asks me for a ladder.
A masonry bit.
A chuck to remove the existing drill bit (this he conveniently forgets to give back)
An extension cord.
You’re getting the picture?
But wait there’s more.
I send for the air conditioner technician who comes from a global company rhyming with hibachi.
He starts poking his screwdriver around and I notice the power is still on.
As a small child I got severely electrocuted so I respect electricity. I also observed my Dad, an electrical engineer, repairing items with their power switched off.
Here, often you see ‘technicians'( many who learn their specific trade by simply observing their mates), poking steely bits into sockets and I kind of wonder whether they have a death wish or are they simply looking for better karma in another life?
I turn to continue reading my book.
A flash, a crash and an eerie thud later, I dread to look up.
Will today be the day I see a sizzling corpse before me?
The jolt throws him clearly across the room yet brushing his hair back, he gets up with a smile. Not before looking around for his weapon of near destruction.
His reincarnation will have to wait for another day.