Now do you want the good news first or the neutral news or the bad news or the worst news? Okay worst first, because it rhymes.
Typhoon T10 – A series of unfortunate events.
The worst news is that the typhoon came to Hong Kong said week. Everyone jokes about the typhoon, they want it to come because then you get the day off. Granted this is nice but I always feel guilty wishing for something that I know will cause loss of property to other people. Think about the fisherfolk…
I left my office early on the Monday as did everyone else. I walked home in the rain, bought groceries and decided to make myself some hot peppery tofu to enjoy while the cold deafening rain poured outside. But what’s this? the exhaust was leaking. Why? It looked like the rain was coming in through the vent instead air going out the vent. For the first ten minutes, this minor leak didn’t worry me. Then a few drops fell onto my sizzling pan of tofu. Hmppph. Ten seconds rule, I threw that bit out and continued cooking, with the lid on. The leak got worse. I worried about a short circuit. So I climbed onto my kitchen counter and switched off the exhaust. When I climbed back down, the leak had put out my stove (I had moved the tofu over). So I turned the stove back on and BAM! The whole fucking thing exploded like a hippo’s fart. The hobs came apart and the knobs went flying, as did I, a little bit, into the opposite wall. I can’t remember if it was the air pressure pushing me or my reflexes recoiling in horror. But I stood there for a millisecond. There was no fire. I was unhurt. Fucking unbelievable. I ran into my bedroom where there is a red switch for emergencies. I pushed it with all my might. Nothing. This fucking thing doesn’t work!
(sidebar: I had on nylon pyjamas so if there had been a fire, it’s byebye Jups.)
I ran out the door and down to the lobby and returned with my doorman, who went under the sink and turned the supply off. At this point, some maniac inside me awakened. I asked him “are you sure there is no gas in the air?” He said there wasn’t. To which I said “Should I test it?” with a box of matches in one hand and a cigarette lighter in the other. He looked at me like I had lost it. I put them away. I don’t know, I wanted to be sure but it passed, okay?
I asked Mark (you remember, my neighbour) to come over for a bit. He gave me a hug and twirled me about to check for burns. There were none. He went back home to his girlfriend. I called home and told them what happened. Meanwhile the exhaust leak was no longer drip-drip-drip but a full-on fucking deluge coming from all corners of the damn thing. I arranged buckets and bowls and pans to collect the water. And then I sat down to watch this great and funny sitcom called Awkward, while eating cold rice paper rolls with carrots and butter lettuce and herbs and a spicy peanut sauce (because cold food doesn’t need to be boring). And then my highest window flew open, a full 180 degrees outward and gale force winds sucked my curtain out while rain came pouring into the apartment. Fuck this shit. I climbed on a chair but I couldn’t reach the window. Curse you shortness. I called Mark again, he graciously came by again and not only closed my rogue window but also checked that the others were firmly bolted.
I watched Awkward till 1 am and then switched off most of the electrical appliances for fear of a lightning induced voltage spike (you will see the irony of this move shortly). I couldn’t sleep till 3am and till after I had woken up, emptied some buckets and popped a pill. I woke up around 10 am when Robot called to talk about work nonsense. That’s when I realised there was no power in my apartment. The lights worked but everything else was kaput. You have got to be shitting me!
I went down and after some mumbling with the doorman, managed to get him to get the supervisor over to my place. This nutter had come by the previous night to look at my stove. He stares at my kitchen for ten minutes and then it dawns on him. “I came here before”…no shit sherlock! Sup was no help at all and asked me to call HK Electric. HK Electric came about 30 minutes later (quite efficient!) and fiddled with some fuses and managed to restore power to everywhere but the kitchen. Apparently the leaking exhaust had caused the short circuite. But I had turned it off, I protested, I was careful! No, apparently, kids listen carefully, you need to unplug appliances not just turn the power off. Oh well. HK Electric then asked me to call another registered electrician to help fix the power issue in the kitchen. I did, an English speaking one at that and the HK electric dude explained in canto what the problem was.
I had already realised during this fuckery that my fridge had no power and those who know me know that my fridge has enough food to feed a family of 6 for a week. Mark had confirmed that his apartment had power and offered his hitherto empty fridge and his apartment key so I could pop by and store food. This was a great solution except that I had to vacate a fridge that, as I mentioned, had enough food to feed a family of 6 for a week.
Then the second electrician showed up and he didn’t speak a lick of English. Between gestures and some English words (namely, fridge, microwave, oven and washing) he indicated that I should extract the said appliances from their built in cavities. Now the universe was just fucking with me. I told him I couldn’t. He wouldn’t listen. Said he couldn’t fix anything till I did so. I called my friend and asked him to translate that. I felt so helpless and I don’t do so often but there was something so insurmountable to me about a guy (at least slightly larger than me) asking me to physically move several white goods that I lost it. I started crying. The electrician freaked out, and went into the store, fiddled with some switches and voila everything turned on. Except the exhaust of course. For those 5 minutes, he took 500 of my dollars. Note to self to learn some electrical work.
That afternoon I finally got hold of my landlord and his wife and they came over and inspected everything. They said they would take care of the damages and pay for everything. AS I write this today, my windows have been leak-proofed, my hob has been replaced and my exhaust vent will be refitted soon to only let air out.
Moral of the story: Make friends with your neighbours. Don’t wish for typhoons (not that I did!)
Stay turned for part 2,3 and 4 of this gripping, unputdownable (or should I say unwindowclosable) account!