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Archive for July 19th, 2007

Das Geruch-Monster

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I’ve decided to let this be a continued warning. I suspected that if the fumes from the boiler couldn’t get aired out through the usual channels, then opening a window to still, hot hof-air would make little difference. So I have not used hot water since the disconnection of the trip switch. Last night there was a report on TV about the increase of Carbon Monoxide poisoning cases in Vienna with the extreme temperatures, and this morning when I grabbed Heute, the free U-bahn paper, the headline screamed the above at me [Heat: Girl (20) dies while showering]. At least now I know that people in Vienna do shower. I wasn’t at all sure about that. Some of my fellow x-pats have described the ‘Wiener-geruch [stench]’ as something to behold. I thought they were making it up until a couple of trips on the U-bahn had me convinced that there is indeed such a monster made up of unwashed bodies lumbering around the city scratching its collective ass.

As I have no wish to add further lashings of dead skin cells to the monster I have developed an elaborate morning routine which amazingly leaves me smelling of roses in under half my usual bathroom routine, and using a lot less water than is my wont. I start the day by washing my hair in freezing cold water. Talk about an eye-opener! It will force your eyes open regardless of your general state of unconsciousness and throw you against the wall with the force of a water cannon just through temperature alone. Normally I use a load of conditioner as I am the lucky owner of the original tangly hair; my hair taught all other hair in the whole world how to tangle. Now I use a leave-in conditioner and save even more water that way. I’m a genius!

Then I boil water in a kettle, fill the sink and give myself a thorough sponge bath. This is the bit where I admit to missing the shower, but guess what; this is an old a tested method still in use in large parts of the world, and it works. And as the water here is quite hard the soap does wash off. The whole routine takes about ten minutes – I never knew that was possible!

Soon I go to Norway on holiday. We will be staying at the most wonderful little cabin by the fjord and all our showers will be taken outside. Together with all the birds and the bees and the wasps that live just above the shower. We used to get hot water there (no gas involved in this heating system, though, as Norway exports all its gas), but since my not-quite-a-plumber-or-electrician brother-in-law and his not-quite-a-plumber-or-electrician friend fiddled with the system a few years ago we now only get a trickle of lukewarm water there and so those showers are kept short and sweet as well. Maybe this is the solution to the problems of over-consumption of the world – let my brother-in-law fiddle with your water heater and you’ll not waste water again.

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The outdoor shower at the cabin. It’s one of the seven wonders of the world , and so good for you! my parents claim.

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