The Cologne House Hunt

If I have only one complaint two complaints about Cologne, it’s that people smoke way too much, and the housing market is a complete nightmare. In no other country I’ve moved to have I felt the possiblity of being homeless so keenly!

To spare you the drama, let me just say that I’ve already been lucky enough to find a lovely house right in the middle of old town. Cobblestone streets, old buildings, reading nooks, live sports showings, birds, the river … I can’t really complain!

But getting here has been one psychological nightmare ride full of sleepless nights and anxiety ridden tears. It’s not just the housing market here is so limited or that most houses have been repurposed for students who have no desire to host couples, it’s also that scammers thrive in this situation.

I was approached by many of these with lovely photos of stunningly furnished houses for such reasonable prices you can’t help but respond. If I wasn’t so good at rooting out catfishers (it was literally my job for a while), I’d be a few thousand Euros poorer.

The approach was quite creative. They’d say they were European and had only just bought and furnished the house, but that they’d gotten an unpassable opportunity abroad. So they thought of renting their house out through AirBnb. However, if someone is interested in it long term, they could also do it through the same way.

Now, if you’re deseperate for a house and hear the words AirBnb, you automatically trust that this is legit. But if you’re someone who actually uses airbnb, you suddenly start to smell something dodgy!

I also came across a second scam where they ask you to transfer money through western union. Apparently bank statements are not legit proof you have enough money to pay for a house.

When I asked why a money transfer, this is what they said.

While I hope that no innocent house seeker buys into these thinly veiled scams, it definitely made good conversation starters. And for that, I’m grateful.

The Perks Of Dating A Teacher

My mum was a teacher when we were growing up. She eventually gave it up for non-governmental, non-profit work but there are still embarrassing memories of being treated as a teacher’s daughter. However, being as young as I was back then, some of these memories have blurred into one and have started to fade. I am, now, however, dating a bookie-turned-writer-turned-teacher. This brings with it its set of perks!

You appreciate the mornings –

Our day starts at 5am, the unholy time his annoying alarm starts chirping. No matter what stage of sleep I am in, once that alarm goes off, my day begins. Even if my work starts at a more normal hour of day, I am forced given the opportunity to literally listen to pre-sunrise birds. The three hours I gain from this means I have time to binge watch the blacklist go to the gym and eat a healthy breakfast.

You appreciate the nights –

Having woken up at unearthly hours means that your body is slowly fading by the late twentyonehunderhours. This means that the three hours that you do get from the time you leave work are spent in the best way possible – cooking a meal, binge watching ‘Making a Murderer’ while he either grades papers or lesson plans spending quality time together and sleeping. Weeknight date nights? Umm, what’s that?

You appreciate the weekends –

A teacher’s idea of a lie in during the weekend means waking up at 7am in the morning! When you date someone who is a loud waker-uper, you are doomed given the gift of having a really long weekend. So instead of waking up shortly past noon, you have the whole day ahead of you to do whatever you want. Unless, of course, he’s brought the lesson plans home again.

You appreciate your health –

Working with cold-carrying munchkins kids means you become quite kid too. This has helped me take to naturally occurring sources of Vitamin C like it is the newest weight loss fad. This also means that I have become quite good at tossing masks at his face and ducking for cover every-time I hear a sneeze making hot chicken noodle soup and being the excellent nurse that I am.

You never stop learning –

If you are lucky enough, you get to hear their teacher voices all the time. You not only get to brush up on nursery rhymes you thought you’d hear again. Sometimes when a point is being made, certain people (I’m not naming any names) stand up and make the point. On the plus side, you get to be up to date with the latest hits on the 2016 nursery rhyme chart!

Go find yourself a teacher. If nothing else, you will get ugly adorable fridge magnets and wall hangings to decorate your house!

Adios 2015

I’m a little late to the party, I know. But ever since I put it out into the universe that I wanted to create and put out a novel, work got extremely work like and dumped me with more tasks than time in the day. Needless to say, I failed that particular task miserably. However, the whole of 2015 was not a failure. Instead of tempting fate and starting an another ambitious novel titled ‘What Happened To Me in 2015’ or the less ambitious version of ‘How Everything Can Change In a Year‘, I created a picture collage of my 12 highlights of the last year!

2015 Photo Snapshot Cupitonians
Click on the image for a full size view!

And here is a list – since I can’t help myself!

  1. I attended a music festival in Bangalore and the headline band was Alt-J, one of my most favourite bands of all time. This is big because growing up we never got to go to concerts (part of the reason being that not many artists came to India). I attended it with people I love and there just is something about hearing your favourite music live while swaying in the rain to the rhythms that move you.
  2. The boy moved countries for me, yes. But I love the fact that over the year he has gotten to know my family better to the extent of having inside jokes with them. I’ve always wanted to be with someone like that and watching them cuss out identically during family sports night just fills me with so much happiness. It really is the little things.
  3. We watched a lot of sports. I don’t get to do it too much now that I have moved countries but Bangalore gave us the opportunity to watch our cricket team and football team in action. So what if there was a little (okay, fine, it was a lot) monsoon!
  4. The third image is us watching the finals with Bangalore Football Club (BFC) and the fourth image is of us at a Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) match
  5. As a going away present, my colleagues and dear, dear friends gifted me a Kindle. It is such a blessing because I love reading so much but have had to leave all my books behind because of the move. Thanks to the Kindle, I can now read anywhere and it weighs next to nothing despite having a billion billion books.
  6. We moved to Bangkok for a lot of reasons. The Erawan Shrine became a big landmark for us because I work next to it and it was bombed shortly after we moved. It is a symbol of how resilient we are as humans when it comes to disaster and ultimately, what it is that makes us humans
  7. Bangkok is a BIG city in the true sense of the word. I share a love-hate relationship with it. But every time I get down about it, a breathtaking market pops up. I’m not much of a shopper, but the markets here have been such a delight!
  8. Part of why I love being in this part of the world is all the travel opportunities – I have so far been to two coastal areas and one beautiful island. Bangkok is another gem that we still haven’t explored fully. In the photo here is the lovely island of Koh Samet.
  9. Photo of the pier at Pattaya (Which reminds me that maybe I should write more travel journals!)
  10. The Bangkok river side and Asiatique
  11. I have always wanted to travel for work. I realise that the idea of travelling for work is much more romantic than it really is, now that I am leaving behind someone. However, while previous travel for work experiences were limited to one end of Bangalore to another, 2015 took me to Malaysia and one of the most beautiful office spaces I have ever seen.
  12. December saw Star Wars (Weeeee!), a new love for BB8. It also included an unplanned trip back to Bangalore for Christmas with family.

The most important event was the chance to meet and spend time with my niece. I am forbidden from posting her photos on online platforms (her parents have a thing about it I can’t really explain!). However, I never thought it possible to love someone so truly without actually knowing much about the person but I am truly in love with that little munchkin.

Can’t wait for what 2016 will unfold!

Summer 2014 – Top 5 Kids Movies To Look Forward To

For long term readers of this blog, you know how much I love my animated features and movies made for kids. I feel that sometimes they have more meaning and depth than some of the movies that come out of Hollywood. It is my honour to host Corinne, a mom and homeschooler, with her take on movies to watch out for this summer. 

The countdown to summer has already begun and the movie world has promised us a slew of cinematic treats to celebrate. In order of date of release, here are the top 5 most anticipated family friendly movies of the summer of 2014.

LEGENDS OF OZ: DOROTHY’S RETURN – MAY 9TH

Legends of Oz - Dorothy's Return
Image Source

Following the story line from where it left off in Wizard of Oz, Dorothy returns to Kansas to witness the aftermath of the tornado that first transported her to Oz. To her surprise, the minute she arrives home, she is whisked away to Oz again. Oz is in trouble – her friends are missing and the people need her help. Her quest leads her to make more friends and indulge in even more adventures.

MALEFICENT – MAY 28

Maleficent
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You may remember Maleficent as the wicked witch in the kids’ classic movie, Sleeping Beauty. This live action remake delves into why a once good fairy becomes evil. She curses little princess Aurora only to find that she is the key to peace in the human and forest kingdom. The movie will take us through the drastic actions Maleficent will then take to restore balance.

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2 – JUNE 13

How to Train Your Dragon 2
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Easily the most anticipated movie this summer, How to Train your Dragon 2 takes place 5 years after Hiccup unites dragons and Vikings. In Berk, dragon races and exploring uncharted territory seems to be everyone’s new favorite sport. The story will show us a grown up Hiccup and Toothless who discover a cave full of undiscovered dragons and a dragon rider whose skill is levels above Hiccup. If the stir on the internet about the first 5 minutes of the movie (released by DreamWorks) is anything to go by, this will be summer’s favorite.

PLANES: FIRE AND RESCUE – JULY 18

Planes - Fire and Rescue
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Everyone loves stories of underdogs who emerge victorious after fighting for their impossible dreams. The endearing hero, Dusty, is back to his never-give-up ways in this sequel to Planes. After learning that his engine is damaged and that he may never be able to race again, Dusty joins the world of aerial firefighting and together with his friends battles a massive wildfire. The movie takes the characters on a journey to discover what it is that truly makes someone a hero.

THE BOXTROLLS – SEPTEMBER 26

The Boxtrolls
Image Source

Legend has it that beneath the cobblestone streets of the city live a bunch of vicious, child and cheese stealing boxtrolls. The truth, however, is that the Boxtrolls are a bunch of quirky and loveable boxes who have adopted an orphan human boy who they call Eggs. When the Boxtrolls are targeted by an evil exterminator, Eggs has to go out of his way to save his family. This movie is to be released a little later in the year and from the trailers, seems the best way to wrap up Summer 2014.

About the author: Corinne Jacob is a professional writer who is convinced that kids learn best when they’re having fun. She is constantly on the lookout for new and exciting ways to make learning an enjoyable experience. Corinne loves all things that scream out un-schooling, alternative education and holistic learning.

Shameless Self Promotion

I haven’t written “properly” on here  in a while on account of life being what it is – but I have been getting an unbelievable amount of views and comments that has nudged me to make this post. Allow me this one indulgence?

In case you’ve missed it, my top 5 posts (ever) are –

You are a Bangalorean If – A comment on the little things that a Bangalorean would indulge in.

Ode to my 29 Teeth – A horror story about how in the great battle of life, 32 teeth soldiers went marching in and only 29 made it back alive.

I am a Weirdo – A post that, if you’re being honest, needs no elaborate introduction.

This is for you, Rami – A eulogy for a mentor, a friend and confidante.

What it means to be East African – A list of things that struck me when I was volunteering in Tanzania.

Not to say I have given up on writing. I haven’t. I have been popping out Guest Posts like a machine, a machine I tell you. This is just to nudge you in the right direction and tell you that I have created a new page called Digital Footprints that lists all the places I do manage to write in.

Just know that I’m not ignoring you. I will try to write at least one post a day. Promise.

Hope you are well.