Monday, March 15, 2010

Gondol - A Water Heater for Russian Roulette Fans

As a crazed coffee fan, I've had some trouble adjusting to Turkey.  Tea is something of the official drink here, cooked in double boilers and consumed in tiny little cups, three or so at a time.  Though there is drip coffee, it costs roughly 7TL ($4.50) a cup, priced so high mostly for the prestige associated with drinking something so cool and American.  This leaves me two different options for coffee, Turkish coffee and Nescafe.  Turkish coffee is great, but people don’t drink it daily (probably for the best, since it is surprisingly high in fat).  This leaves me with Nescafe, or more precisely Nescafe Gold, which is like Nescafe but tastes like coffee for a small price increase.

Nescafe is available at most of my university’s cafeterias, but in order to enjoy a large enough mug to satisfy my American sensibilities, I prefer to make (though make is perhaps too strong a word for instant coffee) Nescafe in my dorm room.  To this end, I bought myself a water heater at the local supermarket about a month ago.

Said water heater, the Gondol G122 Supreme, is an example of why one should not be too stingy in Turkey.  I was pretty drawn to the 3.50TL ($2.25) price, but the extreme "value" of the device and the fact that the water heater was made by a plastics company (!?!) should have warned me that the G122 Supreme would not live up to my American expectations of consumer safety.  Also alarming was the only block of English text on the device, claiming “Our products to not contain any harmful material for human health.”
Three lira of water heating goodness!

It turns out that Gondol was telling the truth.  None of the individual materials were as harmful to human health as the device itself.  Initially, we only were concerned about the uninsulated heating element, which meant a swift electrocution for anyone dumb enough to use a metal spoon instead of the included plastic one.  This was apparently not enough precaution, as after a month of tireless service, Gondol #1 died in a storm of sparks that blew the circuit breaker for our wall and almost killed Johnny.
Smile all you want, people featured on Gondol's website.  Your days are numbered.

Somewhat shaken by the near-demise of my friend and roommate, but resolved in my desire to drink coffee, I set out to find another water heater before Turkish class one afternoon.  I went to a part of Kızılay that I knew had a bunch of home appliance stores, only to find a collection of Gondol G122 Supremes in a variety of fun colors in each store.  I was disappointed, but faced with the prospect of not having coffee the next morning I went ahead and bought myself another one.  When in Turkish class, my teacher asked me what I did that day, I showed her my new purchase. She looked alarm and taught us the Turkish word for "dangerous" (tehlikeli).  Apparently Gondol has quite a reputation nation-wide.

I finally bought a legitimate coffee heater this past Saturday, by which time Gondol #2 had already paid for itself by heating water for four cups of coffee.  At least now, the only life-threatening thing I do every day is crossing the street.
The new, non-homicidal, water heater

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