Here’s another typical moment that arose in the course of our apartment renovation (or, “re`mont,” as it is known to all expats in Kyiv, alongside with the words “`rynok,” / = a market, “marsh`rootka”/ = a shuttle-bus, and, probably “`yama”/ = a pothole on the road). To replace a central heating radiator, we needed to get it emptied of water first. Then the old radiator would be cut off and a new one fixed in its place. The welders said they would come the next day to do the installation. I hurried to the notorious ZHEK (see my previous blog for what ZHEK is), because it’s only with their permission that the water can be removed from the heating pipes. This time the lady responsible for letting the water out was busy looking for a key that a visitor who had come before me needed badly. She was fumbling bunches of keys on numerous nails on a special board, reading their numbers and illegible words on their tags – like “a cellar,” “an attic,” “boiler-room,” etc. I think there were more than a hundred such bunches on the board. After waiting for some longer time, I dared stammer out the reason for my visit. Without turning her head to look at me the lady said I should go the boss’ secretary sitting in the reception room and she would explain everything. The reception room with the secretary in it was a few blocks away. I rushed to the secretary who, after listening to me, called the same lady I had spoken to a quarter of an hour before, and after the phone talk she explained to me that I should approach the “key-lady” at the reception hour (3 PM) and write an application for the pipes. The application would then be considered by the boss, I would have to pay at the bank for the water drained and bring the payment check to the secretary. Then the sought-for permission would be given.

It was 10AM. Another five hours of waiting before the “reception hour”! Shall I be in time to arrange matters with the application considered, the money paid and permission received before 9AM tomorrow? On the way back home I called my wife explaining the situation. When I came home, my wife said I didn’t need to go anywhere. She had just called a ZHEK plumber who was in charge of maintaining our building. The plumber said he would drain the pipes today. That would cost us 200 hryvnias.…………………………………………………………..

The plumber called a few minutes ago. The pipes are empty. Phew! The renovation is continuing tomorrow!…………………………………………………………..

According to the policy of reforms introduced in this country, ZHEKs will be either privatized or dissolved starting from July this year. Good riddance to bad rubbish!


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