Friday, February 8, 2013

Running Water:Turn off that tap!

Speaking of gadgets that help women, what about running water? Back in the sixties when I lived in  Kosovo, southern Yugoslavia, almost every new flat had its washing machine but down among the old wooden houses there was still just a tap out in the yard. But wait! What luxury! As one of my colleagues at the university explained, "The women are very happy now- before they had to get water out in the street."

Kosovo was just another distant province of the old Turkish Empire until the First World War and in terms of plumbing, and much else, had not changed a lot. Everyone, Communist party members, students, welcomed me to the capital with the same apology: "Pristina is a dirty town!"  Their reasoning, from the Turkish time, the world before modern plumbing: "We are in the plain- no river!" The two beautiful old towns in Kosovo, Pec and P:rizren, they explained, were "clean"- built on the banks of fast flowing mountain rivers- running water!

The fact that I also get a kick out of turning on a tap and seeing water come out - and hot water too!- dates from before Kosovo, to student days when I persuaded a wary housewife to let me turn her attic into 'digs.' The only problem, having to go down two flights to the bathroom for water. And later when I snagged a  top flat in London, (right near the Thames and the Tate Gallery!) same problem- two flights down for water.
Unfortunately, unlike the gorgeous women who sway off to wells with pots on their heads, going for water  did nothing for my posture. Hauling up plastic buckets on narrow stairs was more Hunchback of Notre Dame. But, children, it does explain why I regularly squawk (sometimes, just to myself,) "Don't waste water! Turn off that tap!"

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