Friday, March 6, 2015

No Opera Tonight

I missed the opera tonight, but I got to know my neighbors a whole bunch more.

My flat - on the corner of Lenin and Independence - has a metal door at the downstairs entrance, which requires a chip-based key fob to open. Only, a few days ago I noted that the locking mechanism had been replaced and the door lock deactivated. No problem. The door to my apartment is protected by its own tough locks. So I paid my new situation no mind - until this evening when I was dressed up to attend a concert in town. Hunching my jacket closer in preparation for the evening chill, I noticed that the outer door was locked again; I needed to press a button to release the latch. As the door shut behind me, I figured I'd better double-check that the fob still works.

Nope. Locked up tight.

I stood around for a while, fumbling to find the number to Natalya, my landlady, and wondering if someone would enter or exit. About 15 minutes later another tenant came by and explained (in English, mercifully) that everyone is having the same problem. We waited and shivered, making phone calls and gathering up more neighbors. Finally someone opened the door from the inside. My new friend announced that she'd set out to find a duplicate of a new working fob she found; she'd call me in about a half hour. Sure enough, she returned a bit later and shared a keypad code that would now work for all of us.

By this point my landlady had showed up, wearing her fur as always. "Only in my country," she muttered. I assured her that this sort of hassle happens everywhere. Certainly in the U.S. as well. Then another neighbor, clearly unaware of our collective adventures, attempted to use an old fob. When it didn't work I showed her the new system. Repeating the numbers in Russian, I helped another new friend get inside. By this point I was a half hour late for the opera and really didn't care. I've been in Belarus for more than a month and haven't spent so much time with my neighbors until tonight.

And, heck, this is Minsk. There will always be another concert.

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