Monday, April 16, 2012

Singledom

Ah, Singledom.  I have returned to your shores after a three year round-the-world cruise on a relation-ship.  The weather here is tumultuous, the six weeks back on familiar territory has seen frequent rain showers followed by wildly optimistic sunny spells, the nights have been dark and hazy to say the least.  Today it's still heavily overcast - around 7 Oktas if we're being finicky - but the sun is trying its hardest to penetrate the thick layers of damp, gloomy despondency.  One thinks that it could take a while, but the sun is a pretty powerful celestial body.

People are very nice here, I had lost contact with a few of them since being away and it's warming to see that they still remember who I am, despite the heavily fortified privacy settings on my facebook profile page.  My old friends are enquiring about the voyage and giving me plenty of re-patriation advice.  Everyone now approaches me with a new demeanour, I am considered a whole of a person again rather than the half of another.  A comment from a couple of friends girlfriends mentioning that I am actually "Quite a chill guy" took me aback, I thought I had always been chill, but I guess they had only got to know me when I was away.

After a couple of weeks of Mal de débarquement taking hold, I decided to steady myself by heading to the local drinking establishment on the quayside, still not having ventured too far inland.  I have got to know the pub very well on the weekends. Along with friends just there for the company, the pub was awash with all sort of people from old sea-dogs with wild stories of the high seas to young maidens wanting to take overnight boat tours of the bay.  They seem like attractive opportunities at the time but in the mornings I am glad I didn't take them up, I am nowhere near being able to face the water again, my gaze has instead been fixed on the top of the mountains in the distance.  It'll be a tough old climb to get up there but energy levels are returning as injuries sustained heal sluggishly.  The journey will be exciting.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Moving

Despite being geographically rather close to my native Britain, Germany has enough cultural foibles and nuances to throw even the most western of Europeans completely off track.  Germany is the butt of an incredibly large volume of jokes in the UK and while still partial to make a few of them myself, I have had enough experience on the 'other side of the fence' to put most of them down to a lack of understanding between the two countries.   I'll defend the "Germans have no sense of humour" jibe to the hilt, realistically this sentence can be altered slightly to read "Germans have a different sense of humour to the British", I find this far more preferable even if it's still a horrendous stereotype. 

However, there are a handful of things for which I continue to have a complete lack of understanding or patience. (Warning: 1st world problem approaching). The number one 'foible', or as I like to call this one 'huge fucking, non-sensical pain in the arse' is one that I am currently going through. When you move between rented  houses/apartments in Germany (which is the norm) - you have to take everything with you.  Everything.  Along with the furniture, you take the kitchen units, the sink, the curtain rails, the lightbulbs, the light fittings and even the plug sockets. The apartment you move into is literally the walls, doors and the bathroom.  When I came to Germany, I had nothing bar my clothes, laptop and a sense of adventure - not ideal space-fillers.  It goes without saying that when I moved into my apartment I had to buy the whole lot.  The largest item I had previously owned was a surfboard, suddenly I found myself with a kitchen worktop, washing machine, oven and cupboards (Cupboards!! - What self-respecting free-spirit owns cupboards?) - it all stung my wallet and I swear even took a little of my youth away.  The commitment of owning an oven frightened the bejeesus out of me.  I didn't even bother to buy light fittings, I simply attached the lightbulbs to the wires dangling from the ceiling, designer style.  Once everything was installed however, it was a very comfortable place and a huge relief.

Now, upon moving out again to an apartment-share (already furnished) I'm trying desperately to offload everything.  I am trying to sell most things on to the guy that'll be moving in next month, he doesn't need most of it as he has his own, like most Germans do.  They move from apartment to apartment taking the same kitchen with them.  So this leaves me with a dilemma, how do I sell an entire kitchen to someone?  It fits my apartment perfectly. Not only do I have to find someone that needs an entire kitchen, but I need to find somone to sell it to that has a room with similar dimensions to mine.  It's a nightmare, especially considering my inability to effectively communicate in these situations with the native language.

If I had one piece of advice for Germans, it would be "When you install a kitchen, just leave it there", if just a handful of people started doing this then you wouldn't need to buy/bring another one when you moved.  Imagine that, a country full of houses with pre-installed, functioning kitchens that take a large amount of pain out of moving house - like Britian.