Thursday, September 1, 2016

Adjusting: Finding a place to live

It is always interesting to observe how another culture deals with day-to-day activities. I am always fascinated and sometimes often frustrated by how another culture operates and it reminds me about the simple things that we as Americans really take for granted.
What I spent the first couple weeks doing was looking for a place to live (in between all the holidays):
I looked at several options from dumpy little dark sad places to a large sparkling penthouse flat on the twelfth floor of a new tower that overlooked the city with a slum in the foreground. They were asking 35,000 rupees per month for this, that is around $530 and I could have taken it but it would have been so out of touch with reality here. I also looked at a place that was entirely outfitted with led lighting the changed from clear to green to red to blue and back again. I have also NEVER seen so many light switches! I was concerned that I would have had seizures there. I really should have taken pictures of these places.
My search was not easy principally because of the time issue. I am only here for four and a half months, and as in the US, most landlords are looking to lease their places for a year. So we continued to look when we heard that there was a researcher here preparing to leave for a six-month residency at UC Berkley and was looking to sublease her place. Perfect! I looked at it, I agreed to take it, and the next day backed out of it and I felt awful about it. Why? A lot of issues started to pop up, I was a bachelor (yes I am married but I would be living here single most of the time) I might be prone to cooking meat, a no no in this complex, and the biggest red flag, I was a foreigner. This particular apartment is in a “society” and this particular society was apparently pretty darned conservative. You could compare it to a gated community but societies are big apartment complexes as apposed to houses. I first thought I would just do my best to stay under the radar, to “blend”, but, well I’m kinda tall, kinda white, and I kinda stand out… a lot, particularly here, and I just did not want to deal with the issues that (probably wouldn’t have but might arise. I really am living the fish bowl existence enough already and at some point in my daily life, I would like to not be the center of attention, it is simply exhausting. I do have to say when I am on the CEPT campus I do not garner too much attention. But when I am out and about, shopping, everyone wants to know what it in the white guy’s basket, and I have never been so intently stared at like I am here. I was stuck in traffic a couple of days ago, I looked out the left side of the rickshaw and there is a guy on a scooter staring at me. We make eye contact and he doesn’t look away. I look right and here is a family of three on a motorcycle all staring at me, they don’t look away either. I look left again, still staring, look right, also still staring. The only thing that ends this is when traffic begins to move.

 To make the long story about housing short, we ended up finding a guest bungalow on Air B&B where I am in one of three rooms. It is on a side street just across from the railroad tracks and walking distance to a whole lot of stuff including groceries, veggie stands, and restaurants, There is also a beautiful public garden, and a nice street market within walking distance. I have a room with an attached bath that doubles as a shower room and a toilet. I share a kitchen, though most of the time I will have it to myself. My landlady and housekeeper are both very cool.

Bedroom/ livingroom/ familyroom/ office

All in all I feel pretty good about my living situation and I am adjusting relatively well. Though I really need to start making stuff and formally interacting with classes. Apparently I need to take the initiative to make both these happen; I will need to invite myself into the classes to do presentations and I am set to travel to a village to visit some lathe turners tomorrow morning.

The Veranda



  1. left the toilet seat up ;-)

  2. I have been reading your blog with interest.and find many of your experiences similar to when I first came to Japan. It takes me back, especially the lack of anonymity in daily life and how disturbing that was. I guess I zone it out now. Your apartment looks pretty darn good compared to what I lived in :)!