People you meet on a weekday afternoon

Have you ever been unemployed? Because it turns out the non-working folks are a little weird in many ways.

I’ve been unemployed for a while, but I mean really unemployed and idle. I’ve been out and about a little the past few weekdays during office hours, and I haven’t got nice observations.

  • The Angry Mother

First I witnessed a lady basically permanently unhappy. She was yelling at everybody she met, while her daughter follows her around embarrassed. The daughter also looks way old enough to look after herself, but the mother decides to be in charge and yell at anyone she thinks is being unfriendly to her daughter, which was everybody.

  • The Yelling Match

Then a lady decides to yell at another for blocking the way in the bus. The one yelled at remained calm, but after the yelling lady left, she vented out her frustrations about how she could’ve gotten out earlier, if she knew she needed some time to get to the door.

  • The Is-It-Thursday?

Then there was a lady on the train who asked another lady whether it was indeed Thursday that day. Yes, it was. She later asked questions to confirm, like whether it was Wednesday the day before and whether it would be Friday the day after. (Somebody call Rebecca Black!)

  • The Smiley With The Paper Fan

And then there was a guy who sat creepily at a corner, with a slight grin at himself while his headphones were on. He later proceeded to take out this ancient oriental multifold paper fan. He tried to flip it open, but failed. He continued to grin just so slightly, and used his finger tips to run through it slowly and open it up, and then fan himself. The air-conditioning was working very well in that train on that day.

  • The Tweezers Guy

This afternoon, I rode the train sitting opposite a guy with tweezers in his hands. I kid you not, he had the tweezers in his hands for at least half an hour. With one hand, he felt around for his invisible goatee, and with the other, he tweezed at his chin again and again. No amount of staring got him down. This went on for the entire journey.

Now is it just me, or are unemployed people a little extraordinary?!


Culture Shock and Living With It

Last weekend I travelled west to Stuttgart for an assessment center, which took place on Monday and Tuesday. Okay, so I didn’t get the job, but it was an amazing experience, where I got to meet lots of like-minded (i.e. business-minded and high-achieving) Germans and just not through S.

It was nice to be reminded that I am also a qualified person, I also seek many high-achieving dreams like these people, and my German was truly conversational. I could understand 95% of the time, and could respond in a way where my grammar was off and on right, but completely understandable. And I didn’t have to nudge S to say, hey what did he just say? Well, he couldn’t be there at that very spot with me, though he did do the big trip with me.

The city was also beautiful and quaint, with (very) German-styled architecture, yet with the view of the mountains and rivers. Apart from that, I would say the city is more similar to Singapore. The cars were fancy, the roads were clean, the people were rich and career-driven.

Returning to Berlin was a little strange. There I was, back in the capital of this country, and then I hunched back and returned into my comfort zone of jeans and sneakers. Then I went to class and met with artists (painters, directors, photographers) and spoke to people 10 years younger than me, or 20 years older than me, with their dreams of making it in Berlin – the fellow jobseekers.

The buildings are grey but the city still sparkled in an unconventional way – and it’s strange to still find it unconventional. It should be conventional now that I see it every day for seven months. It’s the city where rules aren’t rules.

It’s interesting now that I can really foresee living in both cities, it would be perfectly okay. It used to be just a catchphrase, a way to sound cool. I don’t know where I’ll be in a few months. I don’t know where I’ll live in a few years. It depends on so many things – my career for example would play a huge role. But it is a good feeling to truly be at peace with myself and say, it’s true. I can foresee myself living in a different city.

Crawling out of the shell, again

Yes, this feels very 2009, when I was on exchange in France.

I’ve a tendency to move to an amazing place, then stay cooped up in my shell and then ponder about whether I’m adapting well, whether I’m making the right choices, etc.

Since moving to Berlin, (again, amazing city) I’ve been happy to start a routine, to make me feel at home in my own home. And I do. I’m really happy with the apartment, and though S and I are still figuring out how to live our lives together, we’re still glad to have each other.

Then he left me for his work training that takes place in the opposite side of the country, and I’ve been alone for one week now, and with another week ahead. I’ve been feeling super alone this week, though I’ve been occupying myself with homework, with painting of the apartment, with a cycling trip, jogging, going out, etc. I still felt somewhat uneasy.

Then yesterday half of my language class met up for drinks, and they were the half that was always present but I’ve never spoken much to. Somehow I retreated to a circle that was present only half the time, and never really initiated hangouts.

I’m not an incredibly sociable person, to be honest. I always need the backing of someone familiar. For example, S is super sociable and can speak to really anybody on earth. He can think of topics off the top of his head from the get go, and that’s a brilliant skill. For me, it depends on whether I’m comfortable enough or not. So when we go to parties, he always starts the ball rolling, and because he’s there, I’m comfortable enough to socialize as well.

In conclusion, without him or anyone familiar, I’m a mess. I’m introverted, I’m worried all the time, and I’m nervous. As always, before any social event, I’m whining to people about how I’m alone but how I’m nervous about the night. But I know I’m always glad about how it turns out after, so I decided I do need to crawl out of my shell. And last night I did.

Maybe I haven’t had a great time with friends of mine in a long time. With S’s friends, they’re fun but it always felt like they’re his friends. But last night, my friends and I chatted in German. We were people from Singapore, Italy, Australia, France, Montenegro, Columbia – what a mix. I won’t say that we’re best friends now because we’re not, but now that I’ve seen a possibility of building a better friendship, having good companionship of my own, I feel much more at ease in this city.

Later, I’ll be with a Taiwanese girl, and on Wednesday I’m going to a play with a girl from Ecuador. (What are they called? Ecuadorans?) It’s not perfect because I’m really not super close to any of them, but it’s a huge step forward and a huge relief, knowing that I’ll be okay, and I’m not that alone.

And now, I’m off to check out someone’s guitar, as seen from his ad on ebay. Wish me luck!