Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Adventures in House Sitting

The dog refused to eat for two days. Actually, she agreed to only eat pancakes—the last thing her “mother” had made her before leaving for a winter vacation in India. Thankfully, she began eating “normal” Nepali dog food—bread and milk, rice, and whatever leftovers I had for her to finish—and I didn’t have to become an expert at making pancakes.

We are now down to about six hours of electricity during the day. It comes on for about six hours and then leaves for six hours. Unfortunately, the inverter is only good for about five hours of electricity, if that. And because the electricity is on a different schedule daily, there is often only three hours between electrical cuts, which doesn’t give the inverter enough time to fully charge. When the thing starts beeping, I begin by unhooking by computer, then flicking off lights one by one. There has been more than one time where I have been down to candles.

The wireless router is attached to a separate inverter, which doesn’t have as long a battery life as the one that powers the rest of the house. Unfortunately, the router and inverter are locked in the home office, so when the inverter runs out of juice, I can’t turn it off to stop its continually beeping. It doesn’t help that the office is across the hall from my room. After a while, it just becomes white noise, but my ears do hurt if I listen too long, so I try to leave the house, or if its at night, my iPod is a welcome distraction.

The family has their drinking water delivered to them. I don’t know how the dude in the company office figures out where I live—I just tell him I need water and live behind Roadhouse Café. Last time I called for water, a tanker showed up. Thankfully, that one wasn’t for me—it was for the house two doors down—but my guys came at the same time. They carried the huge, 50+lb water bottles on their shoulders to my place.

The family I am house sitting for has been very generous with their resources. I got a phone call from a friend of theirs—on my mobile—who had left her red bike in their care; she was back in town now and wanted to know when I was home so she could pick it up? Another friend came knocking on the gate one night, returning a large frying pan and several wine glasses she had borrowed. Their house help comes to work three days a week—to clean the house, do any laundry I may have, and feed the dog if I happen to be out of town for the day—the rest of the week, she works at the guest house the family runs. A random family friend showed up today from out of town; I informed him that they were on vacation and would be back this coming weekend. I would let them know he came calling. My job has become to coordinate all this in addition to just keeping the house.

The house has a well for its main water supply. There is an electric pump that shoots the water up to the holding tank on the roof. This pump is supposed to be run daily, for 5 to 10 minutes. With the erratic electricity schedule, I have to remind myself constantly when to run it. If it isn’t run for more than 48 hours, it tends to sound sick for a while, and not work as well.

The family does have a car—a very old jeep. It would be fun to drive, especially since driving on roads in Kathmandu is like going off-road. Except I refuse to drive in Kathmandu; my defensive driving capabilities are not that strong. Instead, I content myself and run/warm the car twice a week to keep the battery from dying. It’s not nearly as exciting.

The dog decided to run away one morning when I went to church. Thankfully, the neighbors saw her and brought her into their place. She has now spent more time in her little house on the side yard than she would probably like. She now tries to escape under the gate when I’m home as well. Stupid dog. Thankfully, her family is coming back in four days.

I wonder if house sitting in the States is this involved. I’m sure it depends on whom you sit for.