Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Homeless in Holland - Part I

It all started when Ashok and I got jobs in the same place (more or less, adjacent towns can be considered the same place when its the Netherlands, henceforth known as NL). Since both of us moved from Germany, the companies helped with the relocation (i.e. they pay a firm to help us find a house and tranport our things). We had only 2 criteria:
- should be walking distance from the station/city centre (living in the quiet outskirts will absolutely drive me mad)
- should not have the freaky dutch staircase (you have to watch the video to understand this requirement of mine) and there is no way I'm losing the last of my grey cells just because the living room and bedrooms are on different floors !

With these in mind, we flew to NL. Since our wants were simple, we found an apt we liked and we were given the option to rent it with the furniture. Given that we were in a long-distance relationship and had ''consciously'' chosen a lifestyle where we would blow all our money on travel, we only had the absolutely necessary furniture (read cot, laptop table and microwave :D) and we liked the idea of moving into a furnished apt and sparing ourselves the numerous trips to IKEA and numerous days with tools while getting used to a new place and job. So we happily said yes, discussed the terms and they (god-)promised to send us the lease asap.

I got home, started on the paperwork (change of address at every place from the bank to the miles and more card) and auctioned my furniture on ebay. Amidst exciting bidding wars, I received some bad, bad news. Apparently the landlord woke up that morning, decided that he was going to sell the apartment (in a buyer's market!!) instead of renting it, which meant we were exactly back to where we started !

Since I couldn't afford another day off, Ashok went house-hunting and canon/picasa served as my eyes (I know, I know it should have been iPhone and email but Ashok is just not a mobile-browser person...atleast not yet!) and we found only one place we liked and the caveat - it was completely unfurnished - the ad actually read ''flooring and painting on request'' !

While Ashok was negotiating a deadline for the flooring and painting, I undid the paperwork I had done, took my items off ebay and contacted the highest bidders with my story. I am glad that they all empathised with me and I got off without bad reviews...phew...the things one has to do to protect one's e-image !

The movers and packers were scheduled to arrive on thursday morning and after handing over the apt in Munich, we were to take the night train to NL. We felt we deserved to stretch and sleep on nice beds and have a proper breakfast instead of sitting in cramped economy seats with airline food ! Its 11 am on thursday and it does not bode well when your phone rings instead of the doorbell. Apparently (I am sick of this word, any synonyms ?) their previous assignment was delayed due to an accident and the earliest they can arrive is the next morning !

Ashok still had to take the night train since he had to report for work the next day. This means I got a quick tutorial on how to fill holes in the wall (caused by nails) with plaster and paint over them after the place was emptied by the movers. For those who do not know my handwriting and my grades in arts and crafts, trust me when I tell you that this was no mean feat !

To make up for the previous day, the movers arrived bright and early at 7:30am, when I was still seeing green and red spots everywhere. So I began what I knew was going to be a really long day, with no breakfast. The movers were 2 young dutch guys with minimal understanding of English...which again seemed like Murphy's law given that most of the Dutch speak both English and German ! They just packed everything....based on what room it was books, cutlery, pillows all went into the same cartons just because they were there in the living room. And while I was showing one guy the basement, the other efficiently packed the trash in the kitchen (not trash bins, just plain trash!). After setting some ground rules, it was a little better and after 6 hrs, they were done but I wasn't and wouldn't be until the plastering, painting, dusting and scrubbing were done. When I finally handed over the key and got to the station, the night train was sold out. So I took a train to stay with some friends who live close to the border (God bless them!) and slept like a log all the way through.

I arrived in NL the next evening, after having a good lazy day with my friends and one look at Ashok when I got off the train was enough to tell me that something was very wrong.....

to be continued....


  1. interesting story sowmya..
    hope you get settled soon.
    awaiting the second part.

  2. Hi Sowmya,

    I was also of the same opinion on renting a furnished house. If you are planning to stay there for more than 3 years, it is ideal to buy the furnitures yourself @ one piece a month. The rent one would pay for a furnished house, on the long run, would be the same when you buy the furniture and rent an unfurnished house. But after a couple of years, you own some furniture.

    Voracious Blog Reader

  3. @sarigamapadhwani
    That's what I told myself when we were going through all this...atleast I have an interesting story for my blog...silver lining :D

    I am never ready to invest in furniture because I have trouble in making a long term commitment to a place that I do not consider "home"...


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