My villa is brokenNovember 29, 2009
Well, it’s not really broken. It’s just that nothing seems to work like it did anymore. It all began when I gave my maid three days off. Friday was a religious holiday anyway and she normally has Sunday off, so I thought it wasn’t worth her coming back here just for the Saturday. That’s when the troubles started.
It’s not that I don’t know how to run a household. That’s really easy. It’s just basic project management anyway, and umm … being decisive, and … you know – organised. Like me. After all, I’ve been doing it successfully here in Bali for six months now. I mean, women do it all the time, so I can too. I just don’t complain about it. Well until now anyway, because for some unfathomable reason, everything seemed to suddenly go pear-shaped at once.
The first thing to break was the kitchen. On Friday morning, I put a few dishes and glasses in the sink, as I always do, and went out. Later that afternoon, I walked in – and they were still there! What the …? That’s never happened before. Ever since I have lived here, I have put glasses in the sink, and within an hour, they are clean and sitting in the cupboard where they are supposed to be. Now the damn sink seems to be broken.
And it’s not just the kitchen – the bedroom has stopped functioning as well. I got up at the crack of noon – rare for me, I hasten to add – and went out for a leisurely brunch. When I got back, I was staggered and amazed to find the bed still unmade. How could this have happened? It worked perfectly before. Worse, the laundry basket was still full! I mean, I do my fair share of the housework around here and always make sure I pick my clothes up off the floor and throw them in the direction of the hamper – but for the thing to just fail like that is unconscionable. It’s not even out of warranty! I also have an uneasy feeling that the clothes replenishment system is starting to fail too – my undies drawer seems to have items missing, and there are at least three polo shirts missing from the shelf where they used to mysteriously appear, clean and folded. If this continues, I might have to buy more clothes on eBay, or iTunes, or wherever you get them.
The litany of systemic collapses distressingly continued over the next three days. The bathroom has never let me down before, but now there’s water on the floor and the bath has this strange scummy goop on the bottom that smells a bit like soap or something. But that’s impossible – I shower in there, so how could anything get dirty during a shower? Surely the running water keeps the bath clean? That porcelain stuff that the bath is made of is obviously faulty.
By day three, I noticed that all the garbage bins were full too. What on earth has happened to the automatic emptying system that had worked so well up to now? I suspect it’s the same ailment that has afflicted the ashtrays – they’re all full now and I will have to buy new ones that work. Even the pool filter has stopped coming on by itself in the morning and switching off at night. I must call a technician. And the garden isn’t immune to this malaise either – the plants seem to be wilting a bit and there are all these dead stalks and leaves and things that were never there before.
But the worst thing has got to be the tiled floors. There seems to have been a total collapse of the mechanism that used to keep the surface absolutely sparking day after day. Now there is this stuff – I don’t know what it’s called, but I’m sure there is a technical term for it – that sits on top like a very fine powder, sort of greyish white in colour. I’ve never seen it before. And there are footprints in it. Someone has obviously been in my house. I’m determined to catch him at it, but it does worry me a little. From the prints, he’s about my size, so I’d better be careful about tackling him in case he’s one of those confrontational types. The same stuff is now on the wooden furniture too, so it can’t be oozing from the tiled surface. I’m going to Google it to see where it comes from.
I really don’t like what has been happening. I want my pembantu back. I’ve probably accidently turned off the secret switch that operates the villa and I’m sure she knows where it’s hidden. I told a dear friend about my troubles today. She is someone I used to live with – for quite a long time – a few years back. We get along fine normally, but today she seemed somewhat less than sympathetic. In fact, after a long, meaningful stare, she just shook her head, sighed and said: “You haven’t changed a bit, have you?”
I was pleased at first, because I like getting compliments. But after thinking about it, I’m not entirely sure that it was …