Sunday, February 19, 2006

I hate Chinese electronics.

When I bought my single cooker stove (I will be the master of one-pot meals!), the plug was German or British or something. The guy at the store gave me an adapter that looked like a power strip, but each plug was for a different country. It looked fine to me, but a friend who was with me said, prophetically, “It may not be able to support the current, so be careful.”

The Chinese-made power strip worked fine enough for a while, except that it sometimes smelled like it was burning, and the on-off button melted. Then, two days ago, I was cooking when there was a pop and a flash of light from the strip. My stove kept working, so I just figured I’d go out that afternoon and try to find another adapter.

I forgot to do so, but I did invite two Rwandan friends over for an American dinner of mac and cheese. When I tried to cook, the power strip wasn’t functioning, and something was rattling around inside. Desperate, I played electrician, opening it up and screwing everything back in. Then I plugged everything together, and I must be quite a talented electrician, because it started working…and then POP! there was an even bigger flash of light (I assure you, I was scared out of my wits) and the fuse blew.

I was so pissed that I didn’t know whether to curse in English or French.

My friends still came over. We ate bread by flashlight.

Recalling the night when I had no electricity, so I was forced to eat dry pasta for dinner, I spent the next morning trying to find the fuse box. I spoke with the cook/repair guy who is often loitering on the grounds outside my apartment, but he unfortunately didn’t understand a word of English or French, despite his constant nodding and smiling. For an hour, I tried to re-enact the events through an elaborate charade accompanied by slowly-spoken French (not that it mattered). Needless to say, he didn’t understand anything. He just looked at the power strip and shook it a little.

I sought other help, and (as I live in the Catholic parish), 4 hours, 2 priests, 1 nun, 1 secretary, 3 laborers, 1 guard and 2, yes, 2 electricians later, we found the fuse box, which was where I had thought it would be, but no one believed me. My electricity is up and running, and I got a better adapter. This one’s made in Japan.

14 Comments:

Anonymous Glenn said...

I spit Diet Pepsi out of my nose when I read about your Chum bars and about cried when I read about your genocide museum travel. You are a fantastic writer, Morgan. You should consider having your journals published.

Your team shirts are set to print on Wednesday, and we're sending along a couple of soccer balls too. Anything else you need? Is it legal to send you alcohol? :-)

2/20/2006 7:53 PM  
Blogger satay said...

Morgan, do you see many Chinese construction workers or "bare-foot" doctors? China claims to send aid in non-financial forms, i.e. medical equipment (dated but still functioning), medical supplies and volunteer doctors. Stay safe sweetie!

2/21/2006 4:03 PM  
Anonymous nirav patel said...

Morgan,
I just read some of your blog-clips and I am so happy and envious of you. It seems that you are doing what you want to -- DC is still enjoyable, yet stale. I am sure that your cooker will work, and if not you will find another way to cook yourself some good food. When you return a meal on me. Ciao -- Nirav

2/22/2006 12:39 AM  
Blogger Raff said...

Freaking communists cannot do anything right.

2/22/2006 9:43 AM  
Anonymous Craig R. said...

Hey Morgan, help is on the way! Any idea how long parcels take to get there?

2/23/2006 10:22 AM  
Blogger Morgan C. said...

Now Chinese medical equipment...that REALLY scares me.

Nirav, I finished your Gourevitch book. I promise that I WILL give it back when I get home. :)

Parcels take 2 weeks express by US Mail...I don't know about FedEx. If it's regular mail, I guess a month?

Glenn, you are the best. I shared the news with the youth at the transit center today, and they were beside themselves, clapping and cheering. You have no idea how happy you have made them.

If anyone has sent an email to me, rest assured that the reason why I haven't responded isn't that I don't like you, but rather, Gmail has chosen not to work the past 5 times I have tried to access it.

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