Interesting day Saturday. I went shopping with my sister-in-law in the morning at Souk Jumuah. I’ll write a post about Souk Jumuah some other day – it’s my favorite market in the world. I had promised Ibrahim that I would take him to enroll him in music lessons when I got home, and so about 12:30 we headed home, splitting the cost of the taxi and chatting about what we were going to wear to my husband’s cousin’s wedding that night….me thinking that my biggest worry of the day was how I was gonna tote my purchases (vegetables, sugar bowl, potholders, FRESH DILL!!) up to our flat.
As the taxi pulled up and I was unloading his trunk my phone rang. Amani was on the other end, in distress. The drains were overflowing. Oh, God.
One of the coolest things about Syria – actually about most places outside the US – is that there are drains in every room. To wash the floors you just toss bucketfulls of water all over the floor and squeegie it down the drains. This makes washing the bathroom a breeze: simply hose down the whole place, soap it all up, and hose again. Voila!
Having a drain in every room is NOT such a great thing, however, when they back up. I came home to eruptions in the kitchen and the bathroom. Not to mention a house reeking with the fragrance of eau-de-we-do-not-even-want-to-think-about-what! I called my sister-in-law, who, while empathetic, had no plumber’s number to give me. She did send her plunger, though, so..uh…in I plunged.
I wrapped plastic bags around my shoes and put two on my hand. I took the drain cover off and stuck my hand in. These junctions are brilliantly joined in a T formation, so that each drain goes down only about six inches and then the cross-pipes join on. I dug out muck from around the main drain and as far as I could reach into the cross pipes. Then I took the sink apart and checked it. Clean, thank God. On to the bathroom. (The muck thickens!) I repeated the process in there and now I had the lovely addition of hair in with the mix. I also took apart the bathtub and sink drains and, trust me, they weren’t as clean as the kitchen sink had been. Of course by now I needed a shower big-time, and there was no shower option. Several attempts to plunge my way through to a light at the end of the drain had confirmed that. The drains hadn’t even noticed my efforts.
Now I had to give in and call the in-laws. This is always a last-ditch effort because I hate to look like some kind of baby who can’t handle life alone. It would have been so much cooler to casually mention at the wedding, “Oh, yes, dahhhling, I had backed-up drains today…..oh, no, I didn’t need to call anyone. I took care of it myself,” and then bask in all their awed stares. But it was not to be. So I dialed, losing face with each digit.
Of course it is a well-known fact that there is not a male on this planet who can hear of a backed-up drain and not assume that the woman complaining of it 1) was not somehow complicit in its malfunction and 2) is capable of already having tried everything that he would try before calling the plumber. So my father-in-law quickly mounted his white horse, unsheathed his trusty plunger, and arrived ready to do battle.
He repeated all my efforts and then attempted the old hose maneuver. It proved equally futile. He dug out a large handful of muck and said, “Look at all this stuff!” I certainly did NOT reveal to him that I had already dug out twenty times that amount.
Finally it was officially decided that a professional was warranted. He arrived a couple of hours later with his snaking equipment and, alhamdulillah, cleared everything up. It was about 7:30. T-minus 1.5 hours to the wedding, kitchen still smelling like the business end of a dinosaur after he ate brussel sprouts, and bathroom still sporting bits of whatever had been in the drain.
Now it was Amani to the rescue. She did the kitchen while I tackled the bathroom (hose, soap, laundry detergent, clorox, hose, clorox again, hose). Then I jumped into the shower to de-muckify myself and Ta Da!!! Half an hour later I was walking into the fanciest wedding I’ve ever attended. More on that in next post!