Our plumber had to come visit again. It sounds bad, but really, I’m always excited whenever he comes over. He is just one of the most jovial, friendly, and patient men I know. I always have a good time with him, and I usually end up learning something interesting as well. This time we took apart a toilet tank, a shower head, and worked under the kitchen sink.
Our toilet had stopped refilling after a recent water outage. I assumed it was because our water in Karakol is really dirty, particularly after “maintenance” or upgrades or whatever else the city does when it shuts off our water. So, the water was off for a day or two, and when the water came back on, the toilet didn’t work. I was pretty sure it was plugged somewhere, I just wasn’t sure how to clean it out. Plumbers are cheap (and ours is friendly), so it isn’t a big deal to call one up and watch what they do so you can learn. In the case of my plumber, no “watching” is involved, as he usually talks and teaches as he goes, explaining things and forcing me to do them. In the case of the plugged intake valve on the toilet, for example, “we” (read: I) used a foot pump (like for bicycle tires) to force the muck out of the valve with compressed air. He told me that in Karakol it is good to use an air compressor twice a year to clean all the plumbing in our house out due to the glacial silt in the water.
While we were talking (he got halfway through some interesting stories from childhood and his time in the army in Turkmenistan before remembering that he wanted to get the job done and leave!), I mentioned how we didn’t have water for a couple days, and how I realized that I don’t mind using the outhouse. “My wife, however, really likes her toilet to work, so I’m really glad you came to help me fix it,” I said.
He smiled and said, “I also prefer using the outhouse.”
“Why is that?” I asked, curious.
“Well, when I’m in a bathroom, I’m ashamed – people might be able to hear me or hear the water and know what I’m doing. I don’t like that. It is shameful. So I prefer to go outside.”
We have an English discussion group taking place with mostly younger people. I took a survey, just out of curiosity, of how many of them prefer outhouses to bathrooms. The verdict? Most of them said they prefer using outhouses (one said, “For the fresh air”… not sure what outhouse he has been in lately), though a couple waffled due to the winter. Seems like more research might be needed here…