I have a home.
Friday night S and I signed a lease on our fabulous two bedroom apartment in Sanlitun. Well, Stephanie was the one who signed, but my name is on the lease as an occupant. This was important because I want to make sure that there is not a problem with my registering with the police at that address, or coming and going on a regular basis.
The lease was written in both Mandarin and English, with a clause saying that if there was a discrepancy then the Mandarin version is the one that will prevail. In the lease there is a Force Majeure clause protecting the landlord from responsibilities if there are problems due to riots, war or Acts of God. That caught my eye and made me wonder.
Friday morning I went on an expedition to Carrefour, the French supermarket, to buy cleaning supplies and other things to prepare the apartment. I haven't been shopping for anything other than food for awhile but I quickly remembered how much I hate shopping here. The low cost of labor here means that there are numerous employees all over the store. Every time I picked up a broom or a mop to look at features there would be four or five or six people who came forward to show me a different version and yell at me to tell me that I should get the other one. It resulted in my having to sculk at the end of the aisle, trying to visually find an item I wanted and figure out which version of the item I would think best, then dashing up the aisle to pick it up, look at it, and dash back out of the aisle to my shopping cart before anyone started yelling at me. I know how to choose a mop, thank you very much, please stop yelling and shoving things in my face.
Customer service is very different here than in other countries. It was a bit better during the Olympics but they are over now and I want to avoid all stores again. I wasn't able to buy all of the things on my list (I don't have towels or sheets yet) because the selection wasn't very large and I felt like I'd run the gauntlet enough that day.
Yesterday the real estate agent had two ayis (cleaning women) in to clean the apartment, and I made several trips from where I've been staying with my suitcases, books, and other things, including the cleaning supplies I had bought at Carrefour. Today I won't be able to go to the new apartment, but tomorrow I'll take one or two more trips over and buy bedsheets and towels so that I'll be able to move in and start actually living there by the time the weekend arrives.
I have an actual apartment now. After eight months living out of suitcases it feels strange to know that I'll be able to unpack everything soon.