Day one in the apartment was lazy. I woke early, C slept late. I hemmed and hawed with nothing to do in an internet-less world, compiling blog posts to upload at a later date and listening to Mandarin CDs I had downloaded.
Around noon there was a nock at the door. I had just gotten out of the shower and needed to toss on some clothes, so C answered it. In walked our landlord’s daughter and her grandmother. They welcomed themselves in as if it was a usual occurrence. The little girl spoke the two words of English she knows “Hi” and “Hello”. Granny unfortunately is not a master of English so we were automatically trudging through uncertain territory. (“What the are you doing here?”, unfortunately not a phrase I learned to say during the 6 hours of Mandarin.)
C and I stood around looking at each other and the large box they had arrived with. After a few minutes they began opening the box. It turned out to be our washing machine.We began trying to help set it up, afraid of the 65 year old woman hurt herself trying to move a washing machine (despite the fact our washing machine is the weight of bread machine – and looks like it too). We were quickly scolded and told to sit down.
Every proper home has a washing machine next to the sofa, right?
So began the strangest 90 minutes of my life, being held hostage by granny.
Despite scolding, we managed to get the machine out of the box and set in place. Thereafter we faced more scolding, instructions to go away and shoo. C and I relegated to our rooms talking to each other discussing what was going on and how long they would be staying.
Before long the little girl was sweeping the floor and dusting the place while Granny mopped the floor. They were cleaning our apartment. Were they saying we were bad housekeepers, it had only been one day and we were still barely unpacked?
After about 30 minutes of cleaning they sat on the sofa watching cartoons. C and I continued to pace in each other’s rooms wondering what we were to do. We checked the English/Chinese dictionary and couldn’t quite figure out the words Granny had repeated to us.
At 1pm and C and I were officially Ethiopian hungry. We debated telling them we were going to go get food and would be back later (actually, I only had enough Mandarin to say “Lunch, Okay. Goodbye”). Just as we walked out to the living room to try our hand at communicating – there was a knock at the door.
At this point I’m expecting Grandpa to walk in, or the police, or just about anyone but the washing machine man. But there he was in all his glory, to save the day. He connected 2 pipes, something both C and I could have done ourselves, and he was back out the door. Just as soon as the door closed behind him,Granny and girl said their Goodbyes (the girl passed on a ‘see you later’ that sounded more like ‘see you layla’).
We have no idea what any of the buttons on our washing machine say or do, but that’s a minor detail… they will always bring back the memory of being held hostage by Granny.