Saturday, March 30, 2013

We didn’t need that hot water anyway.

May 17, 2008

Years ago, when developing their infrastructure, the Soviets decided that hot water would be distributed to everyone from a central source; no one would have their own water heater in their home. Unfortunately, a system as vast as one which supplies piping hot water to the masses must be closed periodically for maintenance. In Russia, they usually do it by region; one neighborhood loses hot water for a week, then regains it as the workers move to a different region of the city. Here in Bishkek, they simply shut off the hot water to the entire city for a full month. The hot water went away last Monday, and there are rumors that the hot water will be off not for a mere month, but until September. Boiled water bucket showers, headscarves (my solution to unwashed hair) and stinky people – woohoo!

There are a lot of rumors about water flying about these days. My student who is a plumber (one might assume he would be in the know regarding such matters) has heard that ALL WATER in Bishkek will be turned off in June. I’ve written about this a little before, but just to refresh your memory: Kyrgyzstan receives most of its electricity via hydroelectric power plants. Since this winter was the coldest in Kyrgyzstan’s recorded history, the Toktogul Reservoir was nearly depleted to provide electricity for heating purposes (both for heating the state run systems and individual electric heaters throughout the country). Because of this, the reservoir is at record low levels. Additionally, Kyrgyzstan has a trade agreement with Uzbekistan: we give them water and they give us natural gas. If we don’t have enough water to meet the trade agreement, they cut off our natural gas supplies. This is (allegedly) the reason for the (rumored) water shut offs in June. Personally, I’d rather have water than gas; I can always just eat shashlik everyday. Anyway, K, Young B and I have started hoarding water. It’s probably just a groundless rumor, but I’d rather be safe than sorry!

Additionally, since the bulk of this country’s electricity comes from the aforementioned hydroelectric power plants, our power shortages have worsened. Random blackouts began in February, and in April became regularized; for the past month and a half, the power has gone out (in my block at least) around midnight, and has remained off until around six in the morning. On top of that, we’ve had random day-time power-outages this month as well. At least it makes the days unpredictable...
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Also, in case you’re interested, here’s the current promo-shot of all the teachers (er, minus M for some reason) for the local newspaper. Young B obviously didn’t get the white shirt memo.
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Back row: Old B, J, Creepy C
Front row: K, Young B, Me

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