It has been a hectic December. Moving house is unsettling. After flatting for six years it was time to move and the adamant, pedantic and particular being that I am, it took me months to find the perfect place. I am a city girl. Love the bush and the ocean; the sounds of silence, wilderness, living absolutely basic but I am also a ‘culture-vulture’. Cannot do without my films and visiting art galleries or just walking on Karangahape Road. I practically live on Queen Street during the Auckland International Film Festival going from one theatre to the other and then work in-between! It had to be a city suburb. Easy to drive out of Auckland into the Waitakeres or the West Auckland beaches. Thirty minutes max. Besides, I cannot do ghetto nor do I envisage death by suburbia! Imagine living with inquisitive Indian neighbours! Or somewhere within endless rows of characterless houses enclosed by ‘new development’. Not to say it is all like that…yet… the whole point of living in Auckland or out of India is to be able to be amongst all kinds of peoples and ethnicities and they exist in Auckland. (181 ethnicities in Auckland at last count.) A global existence. Even if that makes me snobbish.
So, moving house. I despaired at first. There were the usual cold, dark Grey Lynn villas and the hugely expensive Ponsonby flats or places in Kingsland, Mt Albert and even Sandringham. Not all were bad but neither did they call out to me and few lived up to their description in the advertisements. I even went to the local real estate agent to talk about what I wanted. (No, not much to say about real estate agents that has not been said before. They are not answerable to their customers neither do they care because they know that house-hunters don’t have a choice.) Then suddenly there were three apartments available in Herne Bay. I would have never thought there would be apartments in Herne Bay. It is where the terribly posh people live in their seaside mansions. Or atleast that is the reputation. So I went along blindly to one apartment, the first place I inspected. There were a lot of people there. Couples confabulating with each other as they scrutinised the space. As usual I was the odd one out by myself. Never had to scout for a house before and did not really know what questions to ask the real estate agent/property manager. Not that I learnt much because the second flat I saw, which I liked, the real estate agent was superficial and distant. It was an experience, that one. I asked to rent the place straightaway and filled out the form. ‘The landlord is away so I’ll let you know in two days’, she said. Ya cool I thought. I waited and waited. The landlord is still away, she told me. It took me while to fathom. The woman was, in typical Pakeha (white) Kiwi fashion, covertly racist. She did not want to tell me perhaps that an Indian would not do. What if the flat stank of curry eh? Otherwise what other reason is there not to give me the flat? It is not like negotiating to buy a house is it? Renting a house in New Zealand is simple and straightforward particularly for residents and citizens. I have never encountered blatant racism especially not in the industry that I work in. You are capable so who cares about the colour of your skin. That place was not to be mine. For a good reason.
My current flat/apartment is a gift from the universe. The first time I saw it, from the end of the driveway, I fell in love with it. Brick edifice of eight flats built in the sixties/seventies. Four downstairs, four upstairs. A common garden in the front and at the back. The beach across the road and two more on adjacent streets. Fruit trees and nice neighbours. Perhaps a pain in the winter but perfectly suitable for little hippy me. So I moved in.
And started to unclutter my life. I am a hoarder by nature. Inherited it from my grandmother. I’d hoarded bits and pieces, pots, pans, kettles, computer cords and all kinds of things. I’d need it all one day when I moved or so I thought. But then I’ve come to live the reduce, reuse, recycle motto. The triviality of material possession is an absolute truth that cannot be emphasised enough. I really only had/have my computers, my mobile phone, car, dvd and video player. Being the good Indian girl 😉 I had a well-equipped kitchen including my steel thalis, katoris and glasses. The rest of my belongings only tell the story of my life, my journey so far and only I value them. At this moment I sleep on an air mattress and have just bought a faded, velvet green sofa from the Sallies. My dining table is the floor. A kind friend donated the television and I have rented the refrigerator. Of course I have a collection of shoes and some really nice clothes, sarees, bits of jewellery, make up, perfumes…mere requirements for a slightly bourgeois existence, occasionally self-indulgent.
The next step is to stay green. Yeah, yeah planted the herbs, chillies, tomotoes, even egg-plant but what about giving back to Mother Earth what she gives us? In my old flat I composted my kitchen scraps. For six years! When I moved to the new flat I had to explain to the property manager that composting can be done in an urban, apartment environment. My little greenie heart breaks every time I chuck my tea leaves into the rubbish bin rather than into a compost bucket. So now I am thinking Bokashi. One of my ex boyfriends was anal about research, a habit I picked up for better rather than worse. So, next year perhaps, after Googling up as much as I can, going to the green shops and talking to the experts I shall have much knowledge, enough for another blog. 🙂