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.
I’ve had my fair share of ‘homie’ directed at me and it makes me feel good to have my ethnicity misunderstood again. I like being of an ambiguous race that makes me a true citizen of the world. However, this homey I’m talking about is a bit different. I’m starting to daydream and long for things I never thought I would – this includes owning, adopting, purchasing, fantasising about things I haven’t thought of as a priority before.
I have changed my geographical locations every two years on average, and have managed to fit in a tonne of travel in between those times. I have also managed to live half off a suitcase, being only half unpacked in the two years I have been in this ‘new’ location. And when things got a bit stressful, I’d lose myself into a deep internet rabbit hole of exotic locations I could make my next home in.
Over the past few months, though, I find myself daydreaming of a proper kitchen where the walls aren’t white and you can indulge in a fancy bread tin without worrying where you’d store it. I find myself wanting a shelf to store all of my negligible personal belongings (most of these belongings are in the form of books, letters and postcards). I long for a nice table where I can assemble wind or solar powered robots or do my 3000 piece puzzle. Mostly, I find myself looking at animal shelter websites and going through their portfolio of pets up for adoption.
Is this what adulthood is supposed to be? Have I finally attained that magical phase in my life?
If you’ve come here for a makeup tutorial, I’m afraid you’re going to be very disappointed – not just at my serious inability at the art, but also at this post’s lack of anything useful. I’m talking more in terms of our ability, as humans, to blend into whatever situation/geographic location/circumstance we are thrown into.
I’m coming up to two years in Thailand and I walk the roads that once cause me anxiety like its something I’ve always done. I am able to hail a cab and direct the driver without breaking a sweat. I walk past monitor lizards like they are neighbourhood strays. I add P’ (polite prefix that means brother or sister) in front of people’s name and end my sentences with a ka, even when I’m travelling out of Thailand. I have blended in so much that I don’t even break a sweat at 37 degrees heat, I know the corners of the skytrain to squeeze into during rush hour, and I carry flip flops and an umbrella in my bag because duh, how could you not?
Humans have an ability to adapt to anything, and to do it without even realising it. When I went home for a short break home a few weeks ago, I casually mentioned something funny P’Thor did or that the mister’s favourite student is Boeing. It took me a while figure out that the looks of confusion and the extra jovial laughter was because they still think of Thailand, its quirks and culture, as strange.
I didn’t even bat an eye-lid when I found out that Boeing’s younger sister is called Airbus. I just nodded. It’s now a completely normal name to me. In my new world, evening markets are a norm, mom and pop ramen shops are around every corner, just next to a 7/11. Cats say me-o, trains make a ‘poon poon’ sound, and saying ka does not make you an imitator of crows! I am at ease with people in various stages of transition, and am never confused about what pronoun to use for whom.
I don’t have a track record of remembering anniversaries and important dates. These days, you don’t need to, thanks to Facebook and Time Hop. All you need to do is put up a post about it and it’ll remind you every year ‘On This Day’.
However, I have been trying to be less rubbish at it. I read somewhere that we are potentially the only species on the planet who’s aware of the passage of time and that just blew my mind. We know time flies, we know life is fleeting, and if we didn’t know any better, we’d just be stuck in a routine where one day is just like the other. I understand now, more than ever, why people get into knots about remembering anniversaries.
Today I have been in Bangkok and at this job for a whole year. If I didn’t take the time to look out the window and take stock of where I was standing right then and what journey got me there, would I be giving life the credit that it deserves? Just thinking back to when I first got here and how life has changed in the span of only 365 days makes me speechless. Even when everyday seems the same, you’re never the same person you were when you first started.
Life is never dull and constant.
Sometimes, to appreciate the true complexity and beauty of life, and your own transformation to the beat of the seconds hand, you just need to take a step back and really look.
Life is an amazing journey!
Happy Anniversary Bangkok. You have been challenging and eye-opening, you have been a comfort and infuriating. In not being home, and in sometimes being the exact opposite of comforting, you’ve raised me to be stronger, better, more resilient. In kicking me out of my comfort zone every single day, you’ve made my life throb with excitement! Thank you for a wonderful year!