daily, ponderings

Still stuck.


20 days and counting, I’m 20 days in and have had a nerve-wracking time settling in. There are days where things look up, but mostly the others are incredibly tough.

What I’ve learnt about Berlin is that nothing ever gets done right the first time. Things will take multiple tries and efficiency is never as on par as back home. To say that i’m experiencing culture shock would be an understatement. Is it really culture shock if it’s just the way things work that surprises me? How backwards things really are, from paperwork processes to even something as simple as missing unit numbers in apartment. Heck they even have voice recognition bots on the line instead of pushing buttons to get you through the operator service menu. I’m well aware of the language barrier, and while I’m struggling to make an effort to speak German, the service staff aren’t making the effort to speak even minimal English. Instead I get a click and then radio silence dial tone. Hung up on, again. This almost happens on a daily basis, and I don’t know what else to do when there is nowhere else, or no one else who can help.

Helplessness.

After 20 days, the general feeling I experience on a daily basis is still helplessness. But it is not the kind of helplessness you feel when you’re stuck on a sudoku puzzle at the back of the daily newspaper. It kind of feels more like you got robbed on the streets and have nothing left, not even a phone or a penny, you don’t know what to do next because there’s absolutely no one around.

I tell myself this will eventually pass, that things will get better, that I just need to give it time. Sure it will, but how long is it going to take? Am i just being impatient? Am I trying to settle in too quickly? Is it just a norm here to have things NOT work out every time you try? Is repeated failure mandatory here in order to progress just one tiny step?

Today I went on an easter egg hunt of my own while trying to track down the parcel containing my vacuum cleaner. What appears to be lost mail isn’t so simple when the tracking number leads you to three different delivery locations, none of which are actually where my parcel should be. Every hotline you call, it takes time. And by time i mean days, or weeks, before they actually get anything fucking done. Meanwhile the guy at the packet store is yelling at me sarcastically with an apology he clearly does not mean, just to get me to hang the fuck up because he cannot do anything to help. That’s most of what I hear on the phone most days. An unapologetic apology and how there’s nothing they can do. Every little glimmer of hope you have in an operator service, or an email, or a contact point; it all lands you in a dead end, progressing as far as you’ve begun in your dilemma, if not, two steps back.

This evening, I attempted to drill some holes in the wall to mount a clothes rack. I failed terribly – again. Yet another failure. Guess those clothes will continue being in the luggage, hanging on the back of chairs, coat racks, and remain crumpled in the drawers. I also gave up and used map pins just to get makeshift curtains up against the wall since I clearly suck at drilling into walls. It’s days like these, that I feel completely useless. I experience signs of failure on a daily basis —  Paper cuts, getting burnt by the oven just taking out a tray, getting my palm sliced by a knife while making dinner, not being able to understand things at work because stuff happens in Deutsche, not being able to get home because the trains are down and I don’t know why, and nobody can tell me why. Not knowing where to find simple things like a hole puncher, or simple table salt that doesn’t come in a fancy bottle and costs 3 euros. All of these daily setbacks just adds on top of the helplessness that’s already present. There’s also a massive sense of uselessness. I’m defeated, deflated. I don’t know what else I can do to keep myself positive anymore. I knew moving here wasn’t going to be easy, but this is another level. Nothing ever seems to be going well no matter how hard I try to stay positive.

“Things are good”, i tell most people that lie when they ask how’s life here, because I see no reason to talk about petty things that don’t matter to them. Also, chances are that no one really cares, it’s all just small talk at the end of the day. Another “hey, how’s it going.”, another “how are you?”. Nothing to see here, just move along now. The world still revolves, nothing changes whether I feel defeated by this new city every single day.

I give up on that clothes rack; that awful hole in the wall. I give up on those damn curtains, I give up on finding my lost parcel, I give up on trying to get O2 on the customer service, I give up on figuring out the transport system, I give up on my internet application, I give up on trying to get the caretaker to fix my broken mailbox. I give up on trying to figure out the dishwasher, I give up on figuring out how much tax I have to pay, I give up trying to find wifi. I give up on hoping things would turn for the better, I give up giving people the benefit of the doubt. I give up on trying to hold myself together.

I just want to lie down and sleep for a long time, and wake up and be in my old bed in Portsdown, hearing the birds in the trees, having a thick cup of Teh Halia in Bussorah Street and enjoying some kaya toast in a kopitiam.

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daily, ponderings

Berlin

The past months have flown by almost too quickly.

The multiple visits to the embassy,
The late nights I’ve clocked sitting in front of the laptop with bloodshot eyes reading about processes and paperwork,
The tiring hours I clock on the road, driving people up and down,
The fatigue of packing things into boxes and multiple trips to the storage unit,
The countless times I had to pack and repack my luggage,
The number of times I had to say goodbye,
The pain of having to let the people I love go,
The amount of tears I had shed in the days leading up to my departure.

And i’m finally here, yet still unresolved. Still unable to settle in because months of research doesn’t help make getting paperwork processed any faster.
Knowing that the weeks to come will be just as stressful as moving my life halfway across the world. Knowing that I’m still not able to kick back and relax until everything is sorted out.

The excitement still hasn’t hit me because I was/am so busy figuring shit out. Flying 6,000 miles across the globe felt more hollow than anything. I read letters from friends and loved ones, looked at pictures; all the things that I can only stare at but can’t have.I didn’t ever imagine it to be so difficult to say goodbye. Who knew leaving the place I grew up in and grew to detest was so hard?

The journey to Germany was rough, I almost couldn’t get on the connecting flight in Doha. My luggage was misconnected. I re-wore what I could, and tried not to stay cold. The first day was even rougher. Arriving here, at my ~dream city~, yet still no sense of excitement.

I’ve had people yell at me when asking questions. I avoid eye contact with people I pass in the streets, on the train, because I’m bummed. I’ve had impatience and passive aggressive shit waved in my face. I block out everything with music blasting in my ears and tweedle my thumbs. Still having no luggage, desperately wishing there was a way to fix this shit.

Helplessness.
Helplessness is what you feel when you move somewhere new.
Not excitement, helplessness.

That evening I got my luggage back, with no thanks to any of the 10 phone calls that I had made. At this point I feel a little better, but the helplessness doesn’t go away. The only thing making my day a little better are the little visits to the supermarket; I stare at the cheese and chocolate selection and it’s enough.

The fatigue, the jetlag, the odd growling from your stomach, the lack of appetite because your brain can’t tell why you’re trying to eat dinner at midnight when it’s really 7pm on this side of the world. When you don’t know where to go and you’re too exhausted to do anything but stay in bed. When you fall into this space of pessimism and you’re not sure what your purpose is here anymore. But it’s only day 1 after all – it’s 24 hours that feel like 48. And then I get reminded that it’s only day 1. Staying eternally grateful for the people who keep me sane with words of encouragement.

It’s day 02 today and I visited a flea market. Stood in the crowd and felt overwhelmed, had some incredible tasting vegan gyros and fresh OJ, watched quirky musicians play in Mauerpark. Met a colleague for coffee and was shown around her neighbourhood. Being a little bit more warmed up, it didn’t feel so empty inside anymore. Next up’s prepping myself for first day of work upon my third day of arrival; Helplessness departs, nervousness arrives.

Things will probably slowly look up, guess I just have to be patient. Perhaps take more trips to the supermarket to gawk at the selection of fresh produce that we don’t get back in Singapore.

Whoever told you chasing your dreams was easy must have merely climbed up a flight of stairs to plant a flag with their face on it.

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ponderings

Things

Things,
So many things.
How could I have accumulated so many things in just over a year?

Having to separate my things into boxes;
Things I want to put into storage
Things I want to bring
Things I want to get rid off

So many things I didn’t even remember I had,
So many things I could have perfectly lived well without,
So many things I wanted then but probably not now,
So many things left neglected,
So many things, forgotten.
So many things I didn’t need to have.

It’s only when you’re categorising things in your life into boxes when you realise how much you really need.

Is it about downsizing?
I have to minimize,
I have to prioritize,
I have to pack light.

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adiós y hola

After staying in this estate for 6 months, tonight will be my last. And today, I finally met the neighbourhood cat lady for the first time. Smiling as she approached the cats, they all react to her like calves looking at the udders of a lactating cow. Some people make me so happy just looking at them, or perhaps I’m just in high spirits because *~NEW HOME TOMORROW~*

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Moving week

So as I’m boxing up my life again, it’s a reminder of how things constantly change. Although it does get easier each time, lightening the load, minimalizing physical belongings and differentiating between the ‘needs’ and ‘wants’, it’s still a hassle to move. A change of environment is good from time to time, and as sudden as this has happened, I am pretty psyched to jump into a new home and a new hood in an estate that’s isolated from the hustle and bustle of the city. When a good opportunity arises, we should just grab it before it’s gone.

But the part I hate most is having to pack and come across memories of what used to be. Every time I allocate my belongings into boxes, labelling it with generic descriptions like “clothes”, “stuff”, “cameras”, I wish I could label a box with “for the time being” and somehow that box vanishes in time to come, without me having to toss it out. These are all the just-in-case items that we’re saving for a future we can’t foresee, because the fact is – we don’t really need half the things in our room. If they were missing, it wouldn’t cause a significant change in our busy lives. Each time I move, I identify these items and toss it into a box, yet I can’t bear to toss it out because of the 101 excuses that I think are good reasons. I will always be on the move, I will never find stability; at least not for a while. And I need to learn to drop the unnecessary load because of the inevitable fact that, I am and will always be a transient time being.

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