We’re in… I’m off!


Well, we did it! On the very same day that our new tenant moved into our lovely recently renovated apartment in The Hague, Ian and I moved into our lovely fourth floor condominimum in Kuala Lumpur.

You’d think that packing up would be easy. After all, we’d only been in temporary accommodation for six weeks and had arrived with a suitcase each, followed soon after by   a 75kg airfreight shipment, made up mostly of computers. But in six weeks we’d accumlated a lot of stuff – mostly food, and hadn’t got our usual supply of bags and boxes in which to transport it. Couple this with the fact that I had booked to attend a writing retreat in Phuket months ago, that began on 1st of November – our moving day – and you will appreciate that I had to pack for my trip and be sure nothing I’d need got buried in a pile of empty boxes and bubble wrap once we arrived in our new abode.

We arrived on the threshold at 8.30 am and were immediately knocked sideways by the light that flooded into the vast marble and white living space. From the windows, that we flung open, we could see swathes of sky, a skirt of waving palm trees and hear birdsong. Sunlight licked a landing strip of buttery light on the empty floors and I grinned, Ian grinned and we hugged each other. It was a nasty sweaty hug, for the air-conditioning had been off and moving is a hot old business, but we were both equally happy that we had got just what we wanted.

The packers arrived half an hour early and my job was to sit in the hallway (luckily one of our orange dining chairs was one of the first items to be unloaded) and tick off the numbers of all 256 arriving boxes before instructing its remarkably skinny but strong carrier into the right room.

We had no glasses or cups until 1pm and only one bottle of water and boy, did we need it. Even sitting down was thirsty-work. By 2pm every box had been ticked off and a sea of cardboard ensued as they began unpacking. But I was on a mission.

Last week, at the worst possible moment, just before a writing holiday, my laptop’s hard disk died, so I’d have no way of writing other than longhand on my retreat. Fine for poems, but not fine, for me anyway, for anything else. I remembered that I’d bought a keyboard for my ipad a year or so ago and went into the box maze that was to be my office and picked one box out labeled ‘office stuff’. There were 20 boxes with that label. However, this one did contain my keyboard!

Around lunchtime, my first Tesco delivery arrived – we had food! And soon after, glasses emerged from their cocoons of white paper. We were finally settling in.

My taxi was due for 3pm and so, after testing the shower in our new bathroom, I was ready to go. But first I was called into the office.

“How is this cupboard, madam?” I was asked.

Three guys crouched round a white boxy shape, a box of allen keys, rawl plugs and hinges beside them. “Where is door? One door, right?”

“No, two doors.”

“At bottom, right?”

“No, at the top?”

“Only one door, right?”

“No, sorry, definitely two doors, at the top.”

My office ‘used to have’ about six pieces of Ikea self-assembly furniture.  Now, all the bits of wood from all of the items and all the bits that join it up were on the floor. No one had thought to take photos pre-move. No one had thought to keep the bits for each piece of furniture separate. I could see from where I was standing, case beside me, that they had one of the two doors on the bottom and the other upside down. The entry phone rang. My taxi was there.

I left Ian with a screwdriver and a fixed smile as he began trying to help them. Later, he texted me to say he’d advised them to leave it all for him to sort out later! Goodness, he will need more than a screwdriver for that. I think he will need a tranquillizer. As I left, the people arrived to install the wifi, and so, in less than a day, we were, officially, totally, completely IN! And I was very definitely on my way OUT.

Three hours later, Ian messaged me to announce he had assembled his desk and was sitting at it on his computer, using the internet. Everyone had gone. He was ‘at home’.

Four hours later, I was drinking red wine at the poolside bar in our boutique hotel in Surin Bay with a great bunch of women, and one man, who will, I am sure become friends.

This morning the day dawned with birdsong and yoga outside my room beside the pool, fresh watermelon for breakfast and blue sky with a breeze. I think I know where I’d rather be!


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