Saturday, June 13, 2009

Desert Notes: Getting Hot over Getting Cold

It’s summer in Abu Dhabi now. Which means the temperatures are rising. And when you are looking at a summer average high of around 48° Celsius at the start of summer, an airconditioner becomes an absolute necessity.

So ours broke down.

On purpose I’m sure. Because it means we have to deal with the maintenance people employed by our landlord. And we have a history with these guys. And its not a particularly good one. Especially the plumber who tested the electrical sockets with a screwdriver…..

It started simply enough. The thermostat started doing wonky things. Like staying permanently in polar-bear mode. Which meant we had two options – either freeze with the aircon on, or swelter with it off.

As it was still spring, we weren’t too concerned, as it was easy enough to turn on and off, but we thought it appropriate to call our aircon tech Nazim. Normally Nazim is my hero when it comes to fixing the problems we have had. But not this time. He failed to show at the appointed time (i.e. two days after the originally scheduled date).

So we called again. And eventually he showed up. With the screwdriver-wielding plumber in tow. They went upstairs, examined the unit on the roof. And disappeared, like ice cubes in the sunshine.

It appears that Mr Nazim’s contract with the landlord had expired. Without anyone remembering to inform any of the any tenants. At the beginning of the summer, when all aircon units are supposed to undergo a service and cleaning.

So my husband called the landlord about the problem. And he promised to send someone over. No one arrived.

And then one of the two units on our roof expired in a dramatic fashion. With a loud bang, some sparks, and the total loss of all electricity to our villa (townhouse), it blew up. Eventually we managed to get the electricity back on, but were left with just one aircon unit running, which meant that we had polar bear temperatures in the lounge, and roast leg of lamb upstairs.

We attempted to get hold of the landlord again. But it appeared that he had gone on holiday, leaving another agent in charge. We have yet to get hold of the other agent.

One of my husband’s colleagues is also a neighbour. His villa is also managed by our absentee landlord. He also has airconditioner issues. In desperation, he managed to get hold of the actual owner of the villas. He made some loud and rather upset noises in the owners ear, and the owner relented and sent someone over to examine the villas.

This very professional looking someone arrived unexpectedly one afternoon, and went to look at our units on the roof. He was clearly horrifed, and told us that the one aircon unit was completely burnt out, and the other was very badly maintained and needed urgent attention.

We could have told him that. Free of charge.

Then, like the chocolates in my cupboard, he disappeared.

It had now been nearly two months since we first raised the complaint. And it was getting warmer.

So my husband phoned the landlord (back from his jaunt to wherever) again. And got a wee bit uptight with him, and threatened him with all sorts of things unless he sorted it out.

Two days later, as we were laying the grass in our garden, the landlord appeared. With the actual owner of the villa with him. The portly landlord and the very important looking owner climbed up on the roof. Some serious discussions happened in Arabic. We have no idea what was said, but apparently the owner was Not Happy, and neither was the landlord.

Eventually after much discussion, the landlord informed us that the owner had agreed to replace the upstairs unit with brand new ones in each room.

Marvellous! We were delighted! Progress at last.

They delivered the huge big boxes an hour before my youngest daughter’s 2nd birthday party was due to start. And promptly ripped up some of our recently layed grass and left them right where we were planning to put the party guests. And, like notes in my wallet, they disappeared……

So now we had aircon units, but no idea when they would be installed. Some frantic phone-calling happened, and a date was set for the installation.

And lo and behold, miracles do happen, and they arrived on time, on the day agreed, and installed them.

It required making big holes in the walls, lots of noise, plenty of to-ing and fro-ing and it frightened the living daylights out of my cat. We tried to keep it in the bathroom, but it appears to be a Houdini-like creature and kept on escaping.

Eventually, after a solid day’s work, we were informed that the airconditioners were done. As that week’s temperatures were reaching 38 degrees, we couldn’t wait to test them out. We rushed indoors to press the new buttons.

There was a minor hitch. It appears they had failed to connect the units to any electricity. And during the hammering, drilling, to-ing and fro-ing, the working unit for downstairs had quietly expired as well.

So now its 38 degrees and we had brand new units upstairs, an old one downstairs and nothing works. And in the middle of this the cat goes missing. I looked for the kitty cat, while my husband got authoritative on the phone. The various bodies he yelled at agreed that it would be fixed immediately.

He put down the phone and we found my cat. Cleo had escaped outside and inadvertently eaten rat poison and was very very ill. My cat is my third child there was no way I was going to wait for the technicians to arrive before getting the cat to the vet.

Fortunately my mother is here on a visit, and she took care of the two very hot, very grumpy children who were up way past their bedtime and waited for the electrician to arrive, while we rushed Cleo to the vet.

While we were discussing the signs and symptoms of organophosphate poisoning with the vet, the technicians arrived, examined the old unit, and came downstairs to inform my mother of the verdict.

He very seriously said to my mom “Madam, this thing is stuff-buggered.” Those were his exact words.

We arrived home shortly afterwards, and my husband was back on the phone with the landlord. The technician, who appears to like using very descriptive words, told the landlord “Mister, this thing is like my mother and my father – very very old. If you want me to repair it, I might as well open a shop on the roof.”

So very reluctantly, the landlord agreed to replace the “stuff-buggered” downstairs unit as well.

They were supposed to have installed it on Tuesday. But its now Thursday, and there is still no sign of the new units or the technician. The cat has recovered fortunately, but I am not sure how long we can last in the heat.

Because now our situation is reversed from when this whole saga started nearly three months ago.

Its polar-bear upstairs, and roasted lamb downstairs….. And the temperatures are rising……

No comments: