Tuesday, March 31, 2009

AN EXPAT’S WAKE-UP CALL

I wonder how many of us even think about where all our conveniences originate.

Before I moved to Iran, I never considered where my drinking water came from, other than my kitchen faucet. I never considered where my electricity came from, other than the switches on lamps, walls, various and sundry plugs located at convenient intervals throughout my home. I never considered where the heat and air conditioning came from, other than the cutesy little louvered registers at ceiling level all over the house that blew out the required heated or chilled air.

I didn't consider what made them all work; how the gas went into the furnace, was then heated by a flame that warmed the heat exchanger, which in turn warmed the air, which then circulated through the vents and then was forced from the register to warm our house, our bodies, and made life in the winter comfortable.

Then we moved to Isfahan, Iran, in the 70s. As a new expat, I found myself worrying about everything that I had taken for granted: the heating pump in the basement; how to keep it full of oil (Naft) that kept us from freezing in 20 degrees, that kept the old radiators in each room putting out warm air and drying our clothes that stretched across them, or worrying about the cooling system when it reached 120F degrees outside, and which worked arbitrarily.

It all came down to when the "AC" or "Naft" man came to town to make it work. Some days he was busier than others and just couldn't get to our house. Busy also meant taking his four hours of Siesta time, prayer time and various obligations that he must attend to before showing up, if, indeed, he came at all.

I also had to fret about the water that came through our rusty pipes. Well, either the pipes made it rusty, or it came to us just plain rusty. I never did figure that one out. Where did the water originate?

A brief walk through town revealed water canals (jubes), running down both sides of the street, which were used for many conveniences; rinsing the vegetables that merchants sold from their carts, tossing rotted bits of produce into, urinating into by the merchants, or any male passersby if the urge to purge hit them, and a quick lap for the scabrous dogs who prowled the streets.

Which brings me back to my original thought: Sometimes we forget how lucky we are to live in the U.S.A.

5 comments:

GutsyWriter said...

Great post. I agree with you. Living the expat life broadens your mind. I think it should be a requirement for everyone.

A Broad Abroad said...

Hi Sonia; check out my new pictures on my blog.

GutsyWriter said...

I like your new blog and the palm trees. Did you do it all yourself? Looks great. Come visit and comment on expat stuff like others, so I can mention your book. Great refreshing feel to this. Well done.

behlerblog said...

Holy cow, I lived in Iran about the same time you were there. We lived in Ahwaz, down by the coast. Used to scare the crap out of me looking over at the Iraqi border. I'll definitely read your book! So get cracking already!

Kelly said...

Hi! Thanks for stopping by my blog. I am about an hour away from you, I live just the other side of Lakeland, in Haines City.I have a friend who lives here who is German too, she's been here about 15 years though, and has recently moved to Haines city from Tampa. I'm thinking you two would have a LOT in common!