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.

Marking Anniversaries

Bangkok Skyline
The view of downtown Bangkok from my office window

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’.

Very Convenient.

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!

A stormy evening sky in Bangkok
A stormy evening sky in Bangkok

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!

I am an Expat

Expat Blog
I take it as a matter of great pride that my blog happened to be right next to Mr. Pecora Nera‘s Blog of the Month! It’s a sign, folks! It’s a sign!

 

Expat Blog 2
Yes, it’s the simple things!

So this just happened and I know, I know, it isn’t such a big deal. But from being viewed as an immigrant (and all of its unfair connotations) to actually being called an Expat – the joy is understated. And the fact that I didn’t have to go through the drastic/traumatic process of changing my skin colour – YAY! Take that racism! 😀

Sawadee Ka

The last month is a blur, understandably so. If I have to look back on it from where I am sitting right now, in office, in Bangkok, it’s just a dizzying mix of suitcases, clothes, family, work, food, salary, emotional goodbyes and presents. Lots and lots of presents. I made a deliberate attempt to not think further than the ‘right now’ and it helped me in ways you can never imagine. For one thing, I didn’t panic. I did, however, pack a towel  just in case.

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I am finding the city a bit overwhelming – while Bangalore is considered a city, it has none of Bangkok’s busy vibes. Bangalore just seems more laid back, less concrete jungle, more smiley people. But then Bangalore is home and so there could be a lot of bias in my views. To make up for it, we found a lovely condo near a ‘swamp’ but the views of the sunset and the sound of the birds in the morning just make it worth it (Kidding! The house is lovely! And the best part is, no cockaroaches!)

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People think I’m crazy for spending 30 minutes on my commute to work. I get a golf cart to the BTS, take a fully AC sky train to work and get off into my office. Compared to the 1.5 hours (one way) that I used to spend on the road in Bangalore, this is heaven. I hope I never take it for granted!

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The food is a revelation. It’s spicy in a different way and I have coughed far too often from having a chilli flake stuck to my vocal cord. You can just walk into a night market (which is about 300m from where I stay) and buy cheap and yummy food. Bangkok so far is great for your stomach. The clothes, the shoes, the quirky souvenirs, I hope they don’t make it a slimming diet for my wallet.

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Market Scene


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It is not the first time I have moved to a non-English speaking place (re: France, Tanzania) and so the problems in communication are more challenges I look forward to. I enjoy trying to dicipher special things that make a country what it is. In a week, I have already figured out the two most important English words in Bangkok – ‘CAN’ and ‘CANNOT’.

Example Conversation:
Me – Should I be attaching these photos to the email before I send them?
Colleague – Caaaaaan!

Me – Does this pass work on the subway station as well as the skytrain?
Stranger – Cannnnot!

I have quickly added these two words to my vocabulary so the next time I reply with a simple can or cannot, instead of a yes or no, you’ll have to forgive me. While I have made a fool of myself both in France and Tanzania, I have never had to pick up a language that has 5 different tones. You can take one simple word and have it mean totally different things based on just intonation. I am looking forward to learning more about the language and hopefully not become too much of a laughing stock.

Until next time