Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Renting stories

(I wrote this post a while ago, at the height of the landlord troubles.  He's since smartened up a bit, because he realised I would actually move if he kept it up.  He also offered me a five rial reduction in rent, which in someone else would be a clear insult but in him is probably just laziness.  I would move to somewhere less overpriced and run down but I haven't been able to find anywhere and it's been months.  Way it goes.
Feel free to contribute your own renting stories!)
I realised about twenty-four hours after I moved into this place that I hadn't lucked out in the landlord department.

My landlord is officially terrible.   He lies a lot and overcharges me and never fixes anything, but most recently, he killed a goat and dumped the guts on the pavement outside my room.

I know it was his goat because he bought it a few days ago and has been keeping it in the backyard (stinking up my bathroom, but I’ll put up with that). It was still bleating when I left at dawn this morning, and I recognised the markings from the skin and head, which were also about six inches from the wall of my tiny courtyard. My kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom all open off the courtyard, so they were all full of flies and stinking of rotten meat when I got home from work. Which they still are.

I called the landlord and told him about it and that if it continued, I would have to move, and he was all oh…uh…well, just wait for the garbage collectors to come get it. It’s fine.

They only come a few times a week, and it’s been raining off and on. There’s a storm coming, parts of town are flooded, and it’s almost the weekend. The garbage truck is not coming. And it’s not fine, it’s revolting.

I insisted that he clean it up and he sent his ten year old and six year old boys to…I’m not sure what he expected them to do, but they rang my bell. He has a habit of making his children take responsibility for his behaviour. The ten year old told me that it was indeed their goat, and they put the guts there. He didn’t see a problem with it, but there’s a reason why people don’t keep the guts in their own kitchens while they wait for garbage pickup. So I shooed the crows away, picked up the offal (with my hands, yes. I didn’t have anything else) and put it in plastic bags and tossed them in the garbage bin, which it was sitting right next to it all. It’s still there, still stinking, and now it’s stopped raining and the sun’s come out.  It's heating up and stinking even worse.

This isn’t the first time he’s done this, and other people do it too. Yesterday, it was fish heads and guts, and it was at least forty celcius. My landlord brushed me off like I was just an oversensitive foreign ladyperson being unreasonably picky, but friend’s husband saw the guts when he dropped me off today. He reacted way more strongly than I did, because he’s not used to living in these conditions, and he’s not used to people treating him like they treat me.

It’s only going to get hotter, and I have no reason to believe that my landlord will change. And the rent is high, and I am tired of living in the flies and the stench (that bin is always full of garbage) and being treated like a free on-call English teacher and childminder. I will be looking for another flat – which always sucks while female-bodied and foreign. I’m not looking forward to more men condescending to me and trying to scam me. I hope I have better luck next time.

Although, I used the word قتل instead of ذبح because I was annoyed and forgot. So it would have sounded like I repeatedly said that someone killed/murdered a goat. Funnier than intended :P


My friend moved around the same time I did, and the last resident of her flat was a cattle thief - in his off time, we’re guessing. You can’t get a residency visa if you list ‘cattle rustler’ on your application.
Beef cattle (source)
He would drive out to the country at night and kill a cow (or a goat on slow nights) in the field, load the pieces into his car (or his friend’s car. We’re not sure), and drive back to his flat in the city with a car full of hot, reeking meat. Anyone who’s worked in a slaughterhouse knows how awful that smells. 

And then he’d haul the sides of beef up six flights of stairs to his flat and finish cleaning and cutting it all. Apparently he had a black-market beef business going on out of his apartment. 

He would shove bones - whole cow femurs! and once a whole goat skull - into the kitchen pipes, because if he tossed it in the trash bin, someone would notice that there were far more animal bones than there should be unless someone was running a slaughterhouse on the down low.  If I were him I would have tossed them into the ocean or buried them on the beach, but I guess he was lazy.  He did finally got caught and went to jail, with eight months' rent unpaid.   
My friend moved in and nothing in the damn flat would drain. She couldn’t do laundry or bathe. He couldn’t do laundry or bathe either, for years, apparently. *shudder* It took a team of Pakistani labourers (who I don’t believe were actually plumbers, but close enough) several days to pull all the bones out, and my God the stench.

Nobody was surprised when the cattle rustler stole the air conditioners when he left, leaving gaping holes in the walls for pigeons to fly in through.  They were really mad when my friend moved in and the holes got blocked up, so they stood on the new air conditioners jumping up and down and squawking at four in the morning and woke the baby up.

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