Sunday, July 08, 2007
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
London Flat Hunt Part 3
When I started describing to her the whereabouts of the property her pupils widened and she said Oh, is it a council estate? What do you mean?"Well is it a big block of buildings, surrounded by similar looking ugly blocks. Actually, yes. I think so. What's a council estate?. Its an estate that's been previously owned by the government, and sold or given to people for discounted prices. Oh I see. And is there a problem with that?"Well not necessarily. But usually if lots of other council estates are surrounding it, it will be an unsafe area. The other thing is that you would be expected to pay much less for a council estate "Oh" My voice immediately changed. Was it a ground floor flat did you say? Yes If the area is unsafe, that will be very easy to break into. Silence. Oh Mona! Have I disappointed you? I'm sorry. No! ofcourse not! I need this, I need this knowledge and experience. Well we'll see, maybe it turns out well. she smiled.
She also remembered that a male friend of hers had lived in that area, and he warned that it wouldn't be safe for girls. Great! I already felt like it was a lost case. When we got there, Ahmed greeted as hospitably. All the while B was asking all those logistic questions, he was trying to sweet talk me in arabic. I guess he noticed I was the weak point, and like a true salesman he chose his target. When we were done with the viewing, I tried to remain silent and leave the talk to B. But when she started complaining about the price, he kept trying to avoid her and look at me for sanctuary. He said he was willing to knock it down abit, but not as far as 210 pw, which was the price of the other Angel/Islington flat I was going to view the next day. When B said we'll be in contact with you, he seemed very disappointed that we wouldn't make an immediate offer. It seemed that he s meeting with me gave him that impression, to the extent that he was quite shocked. He tried to warn us that if we wait it'll be gone, and criticized our other flat viewing in angel claiming its an unsafe area. However as clever as she was B smiled politely, said "Thankyou, we will be in contact with you.", turned around, pulled me by the hand, and left.
As we walked down the street a gang of chavvy teen agers strolled past us. I hadn't seen the area by night. And now I could totally see what she means. When you picture living an area, try to go beyond the moment. Imagine all the time you'll be spending the night alone when I'm not here, all the nights you'll be coming home late, and all the contexts that you can imagine spoke B, very wisely indeed. And soon my disappointment with not getting the flat, turned into a relief of not falling into an easy trap. It seemed to me as though I was an easy target, and very easily impressed. I had a long way to go.
B left the next morning. It was another 12 hrs till my next flat viewing (07:15pm). But I was determined to at least arrange one more viewing till then. I checked the web-listings and didn't find anything new that was particularly interesting - at that point my criteria was becoming narrower and narrower. For a moment I thought- uh dull day. But when I found Nat my lebanese friend online, my face lightened up. For she had managed to find a one bedroom flat in london 6 months ago in an excelled location.
Nat I need a really big favour!
Lebanese princess says:
BABBBBBBBBBBBBES!!!! I missed u! how are you chicky?
Good.. missed you too honey. Been flat hunting- and its crazy.
Lebanese princess says:
Oh trust me I know! So what's the favour?!
How much rent did u pay for ur flat?
Lebanese princess says:
210 a week. After negotiation ofcourse.
Wow - i m finding much higher prices for much crappier things.
Lebanese princess says:
Go to my estate agency. its on baker st.
And just like that, my world seemed brighter. In 2 seconds I was off to baker st. searching for that unbeleivably hard to find estate agency. As soon as I got there, I realised that my earlier contempt for estate agencies probably stemmed from how unprofessional ****** were. But this is was as good as it gets! I was immediately greeted by a smiley skinny fellow called Simon. He took down the details of what I needed, along with the price range, and looked up and said " I've only got one thing to suit your needs at the moment I'm afraid. Its in St.John's wood and its going for 260 pw including hot water and heating". Wow...St.John's wood. This was one of the poshest most peaceful loveliest residential areas in london. It was a bit far, but definitely lovely. I immediately realised that the iraqi guy was ripping us off, especially with the hot water and heating included in this one. Simon told me to come back in 2 hrs to view i, and I excitedly obeyed.
I was supposed to spend those two hours doing readings for my dissertation, but I couldn't contain myself. I actually went home and spend those two hours obsessively reading about this agency, and about St.John's Wood. At that moment I realised that finding the right flat was as emotional, if not more, than finding the right man. The moment there is a new promising love on the horizon your obsessive anticipation gets the best of you!
On our way to the propery, Simon and I chatted about flat hunting and the market. He was so polite and sweet, he hardly felt like an estate agent who's trying to suck the blood out of you. When drove through green areas with lots of small houses and peaceful silence. "Was I going to finally live in the wonderland I had always dreamt of?". When we got to the property, and Simon signalled to me which one it was, I must say I was very impressed with how nice the building was. I immediately started taking pictures with the camera B left me, so that I could send them to her without her needing to come down to second-view flats herself.
When I saw the inside of the building my breath was taken away with the quality. It almost felt like a hotel. And for a change, there was a lift! " The current tenant is very messy, I apologise in advance for the mess we're about to experience" . You could tell Simon was very British, with a typical dry sense of humour in his voice. Ofcourse, if you know anything about me, you will surely know that that last remark would not have moved me at all because I am mother of mess myself. However, when we entered the flat I did realise that he was not at all exaggerating. However, this mess did not manage to turn me away from noticing how beautiful the flat was. I could definitely see myself living there! In fact, I wanted to tell Simon to leave, so I could have my privacy in my home!....Yes .... It was love at first sight.
The only problem was that there was only one bed. So we couldn;t move another bed into the lounge. And the lounge didn't have any storage space. So whoever lived in the lounge as a bedroom, would not have a cupboard. But I thought to myself this could be sorted. I asked him if my flatmate and I could arrange a second viewing next weekend when she's available, and his answer was..."Ofcourse. If the flat is still available till then that is". When Simon told me, that no one else had viewed this flat yet, because it's just gone on the internet a couple of hours ago, my heart sank. All I could think of was that by the time I manage to send B the pictures, discuss things with her, and wait for her to come down and view this flat, it would be definitely gone. And in my heart it was already mine, how could I let it go?
When I left Simon. My heart was beating, and I dont know what I was rushing towards, but I immediately called B. She seemed to think it was a bit pricey and far but said we'll discuss it after I have my other viewing scheduled for that day. Oh my god! I almost forgot about that. Practically speaking I thought I should really go, even though the place didn't sound very encouraging. I called the landlord to confirm, and to ask her to clarify the very wierd address. There were always babies in the background when she picked up, so she always had to shout out everything she said, which seemed abit intimidating, especially when it was in a wierd accent that I couldn';t figure out.
But anyway I set off. Seeing more flats couldn't possibly hurt. When I arrived the area wasn't as bad as I thought at all. It was ok. The landlord arrived 5 minutes later in her car with her 2 babies. She was a wierd neurotic woman. But to my luck she allowed me to view the flat by myself because she couldn't leave the babies alone.
It was a large flat I give her that. But it was very wierdly shaped. You had to get through each room to go to the next! And somehow there was a little bed in the reception! It was 2 floors - but you needed to use a ladder to get down stairs! I was in hysterics but I didnt want to be rude. When I asked her if they could place any bars on the glass window, because it was ground floor, all she could say was ."Oh no Safe, very safe". I was like right and at that I said the magic words "I'll be in contact with you".
When I got home all I could think of was the St.John's Wood flat. But B seemed to think I should wait and view more flats arguing that "It won't go away". I resented her for that. At a certain point I felt like it was me who had to do the hard work, and her who had to impose the conditions. But then again, during summer she did lots of viewings for flats to buy, for the both of us. Moreover, I was the one who was allowing her put conditions, coz I knew she was more experienced. All this made sense, but I still couldn't help feeling a deep of worry. Every second that passed by I imagined Simon signing the contract of this flat, and that just broke my heart. I spent that whole day checking the website to make sure its still there. At this point I realised how emotional i was getting about the whole thing....and I tried to discpline myself again
TO BE CONTINUED
London Flat Hunt PART 2
After Kavita's support in my anti-estate agencies movement I decided to manouevre a new battflefield: LOOT. Yes ladies and gentleman, WWW.LOOT.COM , with its various advertisements of properties whose landlords DO PICK UP THE PHONE, seemed like my saviour in a moment of desperation.
Just the site of the online listings with various flats in nearby locations was so exciting. Suddenly, the universe was smiling again. I was smelling VARIETY of choice, a luxury I had not come across uptill then. However at that point I also had more experience and more specificity in terms of knowing what we need, and that in itself allowed me to be more selective , hence filtering out a good proportion of the properties on the list.
And there it was.... in the middle of the various lists., my beauty.,,,,,,,
" EUSTON NW1: 1 double bed flat, ground flr, living room, sep bath & WC, fitted kitchen, furnished, all mod cons, 5 mins walk Euston, Great Portland Street & Warren Street stations, 5 mins Regents Park. (260 pounds per week)"
wow, that sounded like a dream come true. It was definitely abit pricey, but if u know London, then u know that EUSTON is about as central as it gets! I hurried towards the phone and dialled the number excitedly. The deep voiced gentleman that picked up said that he'd call me back to arrange a viewing the next day. Up until this point I was completely carried away by my excitement , but after I hung up something else suddenly hit me.
After asking friends and so on and so forth, my earlier fear about getting into a car with an estate agent proved unreasonable. But now I was going to be in a flat with a complete stranger, just because he happened to have an adveritsement on the world wide web. Wow, wouldn't it be a rapist's perfect opportunity? They don't even have to give the exact address online. Usually the area is advertised, and then they give you the address on the phone.
NO!I wasn't going to let my paranoia get the best of me. Thousands of students looked for flats every year, and there's never been a famous case of flat hunting accidents, especially that universities give you the A-Z guides to flat hunting, and that certainly was not mentioned. I decided to play it by ear, and leave the danger-sniffing task to my instincts, which I usually trusted.
In the meantime I managed to arrange another flat viewing in Islington for the following week. I did it very half-heartedly because in my mind I was already attached to the unseen euston flat. I spent the whole evening almost doing nothing but waiting impatiently for the phone to ring. Suddenly, flat hunting felt like being in a relationship where the love is completely one - sided. I, ofcourse being, the desperate lover.
When the clock stroke 11:00 am the next morning, I decided not to wait any longer and call him again myself. Usually I hate to nag people, and I feel awfully self conscious and awkward about such chases, but I was slowly learning that in the practical day to day matters of life there were completely different rules to the "game"!
Ring Ring...Ring Ring....No answer?...Ring Ring...Ring ring.... "Helllooo" The poor man was half asleep. It was hard enough understanding his east-london accent when he was awake, and now I had to make him repeat everything twice ( don't you just hate it when that happens?). I took down his details, and we arranged a viewing for the afternoon. Surprisingly this very english sounding gentleman was called "Ahmed". I should know better than that after meeting tons of british-asians and arabs.However you just don't expect it on the phone.
A I searched for the street I realised I was walking deeper and deeper towards the camden end of Euston, and by the time I got there it didn't feel like Euston at all. It was still a relatively nice residential area, but when I read EUSTON FLAT I imagined standing at my window sill and watching passengers rushing towards the gigantic train station, or running down in my pyjama pants and sweater to quickly snatch something from the "Boots" opposite the station. ... dare to dream!
The building was huge, and a bit communist looking - )huge blocks of standardised plainness if u get what i mean?) A chubby friendly middle aged fellow emerged out of the ground floor flat with a "seb7a" in his hand. I didn't dare to try and shake hands with him, and he didnt offer his hand either. Yet he was very smiley and accomodating. The flat was nice! Had all we needed! There were even two beds in the bedroom, so we could transfer one to the lounge, without having to buy a bed.
"We're definitely interested. But we need to have a second viewing because my flatmate is upnorth at the moment. Her train comes in this evening". He seemed abit bugged by the thought, but when he learned that I we were both Muslims, he was happy to reschedule that evening. He even reassured me that the flats would be ours. "Enshala tkoon likom" he said smilingly in a very heavy iraqi accent.
I felt hopeful. I knew I was less experienced that B in finding faults and problems with flats, but there was nothing in particular about this flat that seemed out of sorts. Maybe... it was time to settle afterall:)
( TO BE CONTINUED. NEXT ON FLAT HUNT: WILL B LIKE THE FLAT?)
Monday, September 04, 2006
London Flat Hunt
Last term when I made the decision to move into a flat with B, I was so confident and excited about it. B had planned to buy a flat, where I was going to rent a room. Knowing that she'd spend the whole summer looking for one, not finding it was not an option either of us had considered. But in the huss and fuss of central london it seemed impossible to get a good deal.
Here we are as the summer approaches the end, and term is about to start, with no where to live. When B couldn't find a flat to buy we finally made a decision about two weeks ago that we would rent a place. However amidst her exams, and her following placement up north, she was only able to dedicate a week to flat hunting with unsuccessful results. And now that I'm back from Egypt and she's up north its my turn to do the hunting.
I started hunting last thursday. B suggested I start by going to the University of london housing office and get some advice there. "Here is a list of estate agents. They all have flat listings on their websites. We provide free internet and phone lines. So please take a seat and enjoy" said the red haired girl at the office , making it seem like it was all a piece of cake.
I immediately saw groups of students gathered infront of the computer screens and dialing different numbers on the phone. Everyone seemed be saying the same thing :" Good after noon, I'm calling about your ad.......etc". This atmosphere of urgency was somewhat exciting.
Soon the minutes turned into hours of trying to phone up different estate agencies to arrange viewings. Even though it was a collective task between B (who was on the phone to me at the same time) and myself targetting at least 10 agents each with at least 4 potential flats to view, we only managed to get through to one agent. Surprise surprise! Agents never pick up their phones! And even if they do they manage to get rid of you in 2 seconds by saying they will call back and ofcourse travelling to la la land.
Ah well, I guess the two viewings I had arranged on that Saturday morning felt better than nothing, although I wasn't too happy about the fact that they were both in Camden (not the safest of areas).
Flats 1 and 2
K having been in the same situation a year ago, took pity on me and decided to accompany me to my first viewing. We were supposed to meet Marlon ( the guy who was going to show us) at the agency, and then go from there to the properties. Although he was wearing a suit, I couldn't help judging him for his piercings and jewlery. Even a psychologist is not free from stereotyping.
However his smiley face and friendly voice we're enough to overcome this initial negative impression. When Marlon cheekily said "We're going to walk to the properties", he didn't get much of a reaction from me or K, because we did not see the joke in that. However when we found him heading towards a car, and opening the door, only seconds later, it all seemed understandable.
Getting into a car with a stranger in this country was something I had never done uptill now. By Egyptian standards it was completely unsafe, but putting in mind that a) things vary from culture to culture b) me and K together outnumber him c) this is a respectable estate agency, I decided to shut up and go along with it. But secretly wandered how often would this hunt put me in a situation where I don't trust my own judgement because of cultural ignorance or lack of experience. It was then that I realised that my hunt completely lacked purpose, as I had no idea what I was looking for ....umm apart from a one bedroom flat with a separate lounge!
When I landed back on mother earth again, I realised that a good 20 minutes had passed, and everything around was starting to look unfamiliar. Wow that is far (note to self: In future, pay attention to post code before viewing flats). "On the corner is the Queens crescent flat, we just need to park first" said Marlon as he searched for a place to park.
The first thing I noticed was the market on the street! Not to mention the gangy chavs that were slouching around the corner. "Hey there mate!" shouted marlon to one of them, at which point i was like SWEEEEEEEEEEEET!! Still the interesting part is yet to come!..... The flat was not on a normal floor in a normal building... It was more like a roof I guess. And the flat itself looked like some immobile caravan on the roof. When a grumpy chinese woman opened the door with most disgusted look on her face, I knew that was it! I'm definitely not going to live here.
The next flat seemed much friendlier. However silly me did not pay attention to the words "o/p kitchen lounge" in the advert which immediately meant that the kitchen and the lounge were in one room, hence we would not be able to turn the lounge into a second bedroom. It was only later that I realised how insanely far this flat was on the map. So, it was out of question.
I felt very disappointed at what I saw for the price it was. And for a a moment this flat hunt all seemed in vain.
TO BE CONTINUED ( Will it stop at flat 5? or does the chase go on? STAY TUNED!)
Friday, September 01, 2006
Zomoroda ta7t el ghotyan...
Ev time someone posts me a message of where r u, i get ready to post but i find nothing to say! See if i m not v honest i get really boring and i cant be honest anymore...
BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAh i m hungry - bye
Saturday, July 01, 2006
Pyschopia PART 1
When a psychiatric hospital is right in the middle of nowhere.. u kind of expect some greenery...but this felt like some kind of NASA BUSINESS CENTER crap..how could no one feel allienated here??
And then there it was right in the center of the reception THE STATUE....ladies n gents this is not some piece of art no... this is THE STATUE OF THE HEAD PSYCHIATRIST'S BIG FAT HEAD . RIGHT THERE IN THE ENTERANCE...to remind us all of his vast generosity for buidling this wonderland..which in his own words "is like no other in the whole world"
When the head psychologist learnt of my lack of hospital experiences she set me loads to read. "Gee this is quite serious. I need to make an impression" ...Ofcourse after i learnt how informal and unprofessional things are , i turned to the default lazy slacking ass I tend to be. Its really not my fault..they have such irregular working hours, that the month I spent there ended up being more like a ONE DAY A WEEK JOB.
However I did learn something in those four days I spent in psychopia.... What they meant to teach me was
- Psychological assessments (IQ, Zung's Depression scale, Anxiety Scale, and Personality traits)
- Cognitive behavioural therapy
Which to be fair was useful...but however what I REALLY LEARNT WAS
- Good psychologists/psychiatrists are cold as ice..they look at people as CASES.. which to be fair is the only way in which you don't end up indulged and personally involved in ur career...hence DRAINED
- Psychologists/psychiatrists make fun of patients behind their backs e.g. P1: Ah he turned out to be gay? I felt it! P2: Oh really, y so? did he hit on u? P1: eeerrm no, but he didnt on you!
- Sixty percent of the in patients in the hospital are homosexual half of which are sent to be treated for their homosexuality. Up until 10 yrs homosexuality was universally diagnosed as a psychological disorder. Today there is no accreditted treatment for homosexuality and therefore alternatively they use KOOSA. (n.b. koosa is an alternative subsistute to the lack of solutions in any given situation)
- Doctors can turn someone's life upside down by prescribing them wrong medicine,,,or medicine in wrong doses... turning them into ADDICTS. (e.g. a middle aged teacher happily married with 2 kids twisted her ankle and was given wrong doses of morphine injections.... Addiction ...quitting work...quitting motherhood.....sexual dysfunction ALL OUT OF NOWHERE)
- ..when ppl have no money n no food they re frustrated.... they lose their minds..When people have money they buy DRUGS to make them lose their minds
- And.. in the narcissist healer's own words "you can't do psychotherapy in public hospitals. El ghalaba r too many. You just give them medicine. Psychotherapy only works with the upper class"
- There's a very thin line between mental health and ill health...we're all vulnerable..at every point in time....we all have some shit inside these so called brains of ours...there is no QUALITATIVELY DISTINCT moment when you can decide that someone's psychologically ILL...we're always treading on thin ice... its all IN THE HEAD..... all in the MIND SET.... the INTERPRETATION
Next week I start at a new hospital... hopefully to see some POOR PPL who do get PSYCHOTHERAPY.... this one seems much more professional..glad to leave the PSYCHOLOGICAL SPA........ From Psychopia to Psychoutopia..and utopia is always too good to be true! we ll see!
Sunday, June 18, 2006
I am always vulnerable to that. But for a while now I hadn;t been exposed to such contradicting environments and people in such a short period of time... and ironically they all existed inside of my big family. A weekend of swaying between the very religious, the very bourgois superficial, and the very culturally traditional, screwed me over. Because as much as I detested being blindly institutionalised behind the bars of ONE LIFE, I kind of saw where each of them was coming from.
Yes rigid conformity does sound awful, but there is a sense of blind comfort and blissful ignorance in such a life. Surely the extremely religious didnt have to go through my toreterous episodes of philosphical questioning...the superficial filled their life with details that were much more controllable the huge goals.....the cultural...felt a sense of richness belonging, and surely a sense of being at home. And for an instance I missed all that.... I felt very chilly...the wind blew at me from all directions from beneath my knee length khaki skirt...and through my black sleeves....Winter is colder than summer...but ur always prepared for whatever comes with it...but there is something very intimidating about summer chilly breezes catching u off guard when ur exposed..and oblivious.
Am I jelly? Does this mean i have no personality? I can see myself living everyone's life!...this makes me wonder what is left of me? But then I remember.....I remember the discussion i had with the interfaith minister about tolerance vs. understanding...We were discussing how the current liberalism is very fake in the sense..that it is more about TOLERATING differences, rather than really understanding them ;
Me: But Jackie..understanding someone..and someone's ideology largely has to do with putting yourself in their shoes and completely embodying them.....and if u embody everyone ...you end up being everything..and that's just confusing!
There was a pause...she had a big grin on her face
Jackie: ..or it could be fun!
I suppose she's right...In another one of my rants about the absence of my personality a friend of mine said...
Maybe this is your personality. The nothingness that connects everything. Don't let people let you down you know yourself better
When i remember those two conversations it really lifts my spirits.. I do not fully beleive what my friend said..because there is a sense of false arrogance and perfectionism in claiming to be EVERYTHI"Ng...but at least I guess that's what i m subconsciously trying to be....
Sunday, May 21, 2006
IT's been a while...
- Below is a description of how the universe started
- Gaia (mother earth) gave birth to Ouranous (Sky, hills and sea)
- Erebos (the underworld) and Night got married and gave birth to Aithes (space) and Day light
- And then Gaia marries her sun Ouranous to give birth to the twelve titans.. among them okeanus and Thethys
- Which get married and give birth to Zeus's mother and father (Kronos and Rhea)
- And the family tree goes on and on.. i can never get it right
I've been listening to so much marcel khalifa recently..and i just think he's heavenly.... all month only marcel and fairouz.. it feels like i m get intoxicated....except the break is not from toxic food but rather toxic music.....
Da vinci Code
I must say I was really disappointed with this movie. I know that usually movies never live up to the standards of a book, but that's usually because the book has so much more literary substance that stimulates ur senses. And I did not think that was the case with the Da vinci code. It wasn't beautifully written or anything.... The whole hoo ha was just about the plot and the unfolding of the events and the whole anticipation. It was so written to be a movie.. i could see it on a tv screen as i was reading, so i thought making a movie of it would be a piece of cake, they really had no execuse.
To begin with I thought that the reason I didn't like it was because I read the book and so all the mysteries and puzzles didnt seem as mysterious as they would. However Sab hadn't read the book...and she had the opposite problem, they went through all the events so fast in the beginning and she was really lost. Yes, it was too fast for those who hadn;'t read the book, and dull for those who have.
The other thing is in the book u get the mystery and u have time to think about ur self... or be like WOW or whatever.... but in the movie the adventures were not smoothly link at all.. it was all very abrupt as in ... MYSTERY SOLVED ACTION MYSTERY SOLVED ACTIOn..and so on and so forth.
And can u imagine that at some points ppl in the cinema laughed? SOME VERY VERY SERIOUS dramatic moments... it was just so funny.. if u haven't watched it... keep ur ears and eyes open for " I AM A GHOST!" ..everyone burst out laughing at that point.
Even though i thought the acting was good,,,the visuals were good,,,the set was good.... but the directing was crap....like some naiive old movie where ev thing was too literal... ..Yes these r the 2 key negative points about this movie LITERAL AND ABRUPTLY LINKED..needs more subtlty and smoothness...
O OK so i really wasn't planning to talk to my ex because a) i dont beleive in ex-friendships b) I have exams. But i couldnt help noticing that he was LOSING SO MUCH WEIGHT so fast....So i said bug it and i went to talk to him about it...turns out he s really turning anorexic...... I tried my best to lecture him about all the dangers of eating disorders n how many ppl die with it....he promised to buy more fruit and things like that...but i dunno ba2a khalas its not my repsonsibility yani i just had to say this and disappear again, coz i dont think male friends would notice something like that.
I just remember when we had our lecture about eating disorders and how they're really growing in the west (and soon the east)...how it was mostly a FEMALE disorder caused by serious bodily distortions stemming from social pressure and media influences... And it was so amazing how anorexia was more dangerous than obesity..yet everyone is so much freaked out of obesity. IT's sad that this is the future female disorder 90% of my female friends at least had one episode of eating disorders (including moi)-- but with v few of them it was serious or life threatening.... I mean seriously if people are debating about the influence of media violence on upbringing and crime I don't see how eating disorders are any different.
Anorexic models and actresses should be banned or the whole generation will die of eating disorders! It's not right they're seriosuly playing with their minds' ..And the ideal body is becoming way below the healthy BMI.