Tuesday, September 30, 2008

My macacque monkey needs roller blades

I don’t know what the highest civilian award for community service is in Austria but it should go to Beate Hanzl at Strohmayer Relocation Services. This woman is a saint and knows the answers to any questions we can ask about the many problems which occur. I am a member of Virtual Vienna Net which is a Bulletin Board for expatriates and there are many poor souls out there who clearly do not have someone like Beate to look after them.

Questions range from ‘how can I get a work visa for Austria?’ (you can’t) to ‘where can I buy small clothes for my mini Yorkshire Terrier?’ (My suggestion would be to buy some normal sized clothes and use the ‘boil’ cycle on a German washing machine).

What I actually said on the Bulletin Board was ‘I have a macacque monkey who needs roller blades and I get them from a shop on Landstrasser-Hauptstrasse’ but I was being deliberately unhelpful because it was such a stupid question.

I think the authorities here are expecting an outbreak of anthrax because the temperature at which you could can wash clothes would certainly kill anthrax or any other organism.

Americans complain on the Bulletin Board that their clothes come out of the wash looking gray and totally trashed. I think the problem is that they use the hot water cycles and have not worked out how to do a wash that takes less than six hours. German washing machines are indeed strange beasts. They wash and then they stop and – after a long interval – start washing again. They go quiet for a long time but it's no use trying to sneak up on them - as soon as they sense that there is someone there they start doing things again.

I really don’t know what happens during the intervening period when nothing is happening. Is the washer deciding what to do next? has it forgotten the sequence – boil, wash, trash, rinse, spin?

I have found a quick cold water cycle that takes exactly 43 minutes - this must be a design fault. The clothes still look like they have been washed in a cement mixer with blue metal – but I get the remains much more quickly.

The dryer collects the water from the clothes and stores it in a plastic tank inside the machine. One must remove this tank after every load and empty it – or the machine will stop working (it will be kaputt as we say here). We discovered this the way we do everything else – the hard way. There is a notice in German that says you should not drink the water from the dryer. I am looking for the notice that says you should not eat the washing powder.

I was digging in the kitty litter this morning and I got to thinking about the NSW government and how I miss my Sydney Morning Herald. There are very few ‘laugh out loud moments’ in the International Herald Tribune – although it sure does have a lot of news from far flung places. But I do miss Morris and Michael and Joe and Reba who provided me with such gut-wrenching amusement that I often couldn’t get my porridge down. I am sure that when I can read the Austrian newspapers the local pollies will provide me with just as much fun – but I am sure they do not have an equivalent of Joe Tripodi.

I received some good news when Cate told me that as I have a Masters Degree I can call myself Mag. (for Magister). This is a few rungs down from Doctor or Professor and won’t let me jump the queue in BIPA but at least I will not be a total washout in the academic title stakes.

I received an invitation to function at the Spanish Embassy but am reluctant to go because I am not sure that I could convince the ambassador that I am in fact Jose Luis Gonzales Perez Maria del Pilar. This person is supposed to live at our address but I have checked most of the bedrooms and there is no one in there so he must have moved on.

We had dinner at Plachutta with Melissa and Henri and I had my first piece of boiled beef. It was a bold step but worth doing and I can now see what the fuss was about. I am a long way from having the boiled calf heads but am making progress. Plachutta has a non smoking section that actually works so it is a pleasure to be there.

We walked back along the Wollzeile and around the Stadtpark. It had been raining and the streets were wet and shiny. The lights and people and trams made it seem like a typical picture postcard of a European city. It almost made me shout out loud ‘I love Wien and particularly its boiled beef’.

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