Saturday, December 29, 2012

December 29, 2012

The bedroom in the new apartment faces the street and I had contemplated the idea of switching it to the living room, which faces the inner courtyard, but since I didn’t have anyone to help me with move, I had no choice but to sleep there last night. It was surprisingly quiet as apparently traffic dies down completely once it gets dark and although I did a tossing and turning, as I do whenever I get to sleep in a place for the first time, I wasn’t disturbed in the least.

I managed to use the gas stove for my coffee and used the huge skillet to toast the last piece of flat bread I had for breakfast before the landlady and the rental agent showed up to sign the lease. Mika, the owner, was delighted to see how thoroughly I had cleaned the kitchen and how organized everything was. I pointed out to her that she needed to make some significant improvements to the flat if she wanted to continue to rent to foreigners such as electrical and plumbing.

She complained to me she didn’t want to pay the agency the $325.00 finding fee and was scheming to find a way out. I told her I couldn’t how since I was already installed in the flat and the agency was aware of that. When the agent arrived, the two of them argued, in Russian of course, for a long time and I just retreated to my computer room and let them go at it.

For my part, I just handed her $1300.00 to cover two months of rent making sure there was a note in the contract stipulating she’d be installing an AC/heating unit, a microwave and a flat screen TV set before signing. Mika left promising to be on her way to buying the TV set and microwave as well as completing the paperwork to get the Internet and cable service installed.

I needed a few provisions and Mika pointed out that there was convenience store right across the street as well as another Narodni supermarket just one block away. The Vanilla Sky coffee house was also across the street and she highly recommended their pastries and salads made with ingredients they grow themselves. I perused the goods at the convenience store and ventured only as far as the supermarket for the streets and sidewalks were slick with ice and I was afraid of slipping and falling. I bought juice, milk and water and came back to the apartment for a nap.

Mika returned mid-afternoon with a preposterous scheme. She claimed she owns the flat with her brother and that he wasn’t aware she had agreed to pay the agency half of the first month’s rent. So, supposedly, she had called the agency to find out how she could get her money back and they had said she needed to evict me and, of course, I was such a nice person that she hated to do that to me. The solution: could I kick in half of the agency’s fee so her brother wouldn’t be so mad at her and she would pay me back $50.00 at a time?

I was so mad I could barely see straight. I flat out told her I didn’t believe the story about her brother not knowing and even then, it wasn’t my problem and I had no more money to allocate to rent expenses. She had brought some insulating tape to wrap around the door and windows and proceeded to do that after showing me the receipt for Internet payment for three months. She’d brought back no microwave or TV set. I didn’t have a good feeling about this relationship anymore.

Gulnara and Zarina had both called to let me they were arranging for the taxi driver to pick me up for the New Year celebration the school was sponsoring. I had failed to buy a new dress as it had been my intention and just dusted off one my Tajik outfits and packed my dancing shoes in a bag. We picked up Douglas, an American I had met at the Beta Stores when I first got here and whom Gulnara plans to hire to teach at the school even thought he has no background in teaching whatsoever. He was delighted to see me feeling better that I least there was one person he knew somehow.

We arrived at the Soho Club, the first ones there, and had to wait forever so everyone was there and the toast was made before we could dig into the salads already on the table. The servers came by with red wine, champagne and vodka throughout the night. We were served solyanka soup later on and I never got to the main dish for the place quickly filled with smoke and when Zarina said her husband was waiting and she was taking the main course home to share with him, I ordered mine to be take out as well.

In between, we went to the dance floor to listen to what appeared to be one long song with the same beat. Zarina tried to get the DJ to play music from my flashdrive, but he claimed he had to find a track that sounded similar to what he was playing so he could blend the two of them and he never did. I got bored pretty quickly and returned to the table where I talked to Douglas and Johnny, Gulnara’s husband, whom I hadn’t met until today. I also met Larissa’s daughter who currently lives in Istanbul and who invited me to visit her next time I happen to be in that city.

The taxi driver dropped me off in front of the main gate, but I wasn’t able to open it with the combination given to me and had to walk around the building to where there’s no gate. Once in front of my building, the same thing happened and I had to call Mika to be told I had to push all three numbers at the same time and then pull the door open. I could have been there all night pushing numbers to no avail.

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