How is your summer till now? I suddenly realized that the month August has started already. Does time fly by in Europe as fast as it does here in China? My summer has been a hot one till now. Beijing’s summer is infamous for its heat, humidity and the very heavy thunderstorms. Once in a while, after a period of heat (around 35 degrees Celsius) the BJ sky is roaring like a wild animal, flashes of lightning on and on and on, and the sky turning purple. I cannot remember ever seeing such heavy thunderstorms before. And normally in Europe, when a heatwave is followed up by a nice thunderstorm, just before the storm, you can feel breezes of wind, accumulating in strength, a drop in temperature and then the thunderstorm commences.
Here in BJ it is not always like that. Quite strange. Sometimes there are no breezes of wind before a storm, the temperature does not drop at all before or after the storm, even no wind during the storm or after. Just a huge amount of rain falling out of the sky, acid rain I would call it. What we all did when we were younger, standing in the rain with your head up and an opened mouth to taste the rain.. No way you do that in BJ. Acid rain, with the immense pollution here, I will put on an umbrella even when it rains a bit. The rain just feels dirty, and is accompanied by sand. During one of the storms, we forgot to close the windows in our kitchen. After the rain dried up, the floor of the kitchen looked like a beach, sand everywhere. Just unbelievable how much sand the storm brought along. Another time, I was on my way to work, just got off the subway when the sky started to darken. A storm was on its way. 5 min later I arrived at the building and the sky had turned very very dark. I stood outside to look at the sky, and this time there was a breeze. People on the street started to run, and the tension could be felt. One minute later it was really dark, as if the night just fell in. Amazing, never before I saw a day turning into night that fast! And then of course, the roaring beast got loose.
What I like about summer here, is that summer really is summer. We are guaranteed of hot weather, and sometimes a thunderstorm. Not like in Holland, where (I’ve heard) this whole summer it has been raining. A typical Dutch summer! Here it is just hot in summer.
You remember the pics of my tiny room here in BJ? Well still living there, already half a year now in this shithole, with a kitchen that does not invite me to cook, and a bathroom with a shower of which the temperature can only be controlled in the kitchen, but.. all ok enough for me. I don’t mind living in a shithole, for a while. Two weeks ago my landlord told us to leave this hole as this hole will go to his brother who needs an apartment. Really nice. I was just planning to move to another room in this house, a larger one with a nice patio. I called/textmessaged/emailed my landlord about it, and did not hear anything for a week. Then he finally responded and told me that we all probably have to leave at the end of our lease. He said probably, not sure, maybe… I asked him, well, when will you know for sure, cause eh.. you know, if it is like that, we eh.. kinda need to find new places to live?? Yes, I am so sorry, he said, I know at the end of your renting whether you will have to leave. At the end of the renting?? Isn’t that a bit late?? Pfff, then he said his mother would come by our house tonight to talk about it with us. We waited that evening for her, and at a certain point got this feeling that she might not come anymore, so we called her. And she said, No I am not coming by, cause my son told you already that you will have to leave the place at the end of your renting. pffffffff… Ok, very strange. But at least we got some clarity, and no I do not mind leaving the place.
So, the hunt for a new place started. This time of the year it is not so difficult to find a room as many people are going back to their home countries and so. I had three methods for finding a new room. I placed an add on thatsbj.com, the inside magazine/site for foreigners in BJ, I scanned adds on internet and in cafes, and I got in touch with a housing agent who helped friends of mine as well with their place. I do not like housing agents at all, but cause this guy helped friends I thought he might be useful in my search of a new place as well.
The housing guy
I met this guy before, as we sometimes go out eating on the streets, at the bbq stands where he often is and the guy is a relative of the landlady of a good friend of mine. It is just a little man, very thin and has a bit of a rat-like face. Friendly once you are in his guanxi (network). A few evenings ago, I met him as he would show me some rooms. Nicolas came along as well, as it is always nice to have a second opinion and of course I always enjoy his company :). The housing guy looked completely wasted, he told us he had been drinking with a Korean just before and he drank a bit too much. That was kinda obvious. We looked at some rooms, very depressing. Small rooms, places with strange people and an apartment on the 15th floor where the elevator can be used until 11pm!! Imagine a nice night out, coming home in the middle of the night and then needing to walk up the stairs to the 15th floor (and I do not even drink alcohol) before you can crash into your bed. So, If you are ever looking for a place to live in BJ and you find a nice apartment in a high building, always ask whether there is a 24 hour elevator! O yeah 24 hour hot water is nice as well.
While visiting this last apartment, Nic and I spoke to the guy who was renting out this apartment and the rat-like housing guy disappeared in the bathroom for quite a long time. He was obviously vomiting his guts out, and looked even more wasted when he exited the bathroom. What a depressing evening it was. We quit the room search after this last apartment.
I did find a new place to live though since yesterday! I responded on an add and took a look at the place and it was in the same compound as where I live now, and all was just fine. So I won’t be homeless after this month. My new flatmate is a sound engineer and drummer from New York and already introduced me to the club where he works. D22, "Beijing’s best experimental and undergound music club" as someone told me. And yes, it is indeed a very cool place!
Yesterday I saw some Chinese rock bands. Quite interesting as the mainstream music in China is very cheezy, all slimy soft ballads. Chinese rock rocks! Tonight is jazz night! Me happy!