Nörma Coffee, Zhonghe MRT Branch, Zhonghe District, New Taipei City
Saturday, 25th August, 2018

In the unlikely event anybody cares: I’m still alive and I have recently moved to Taipei. Having been rejected as a graduate student by the Chinese Language Faculty of the Free University in Berlin, in September 2017 I took on a full-time programming job in Hamburg, West Germany. Shortly thereafter, I realized life in Germany, pleasant as it may be, is not exactly my cup of tea.

For one thing, the real estate market in Hamburg (actually, in all big cities in Germany,) is everything but friendly, even if you’re willing to spend half of your salary on a claustrophobic room in the suburbs. For about three and a half months, I have stayed with an elderly Buddhist with a passion for fast women and young cars, or the other way round.

In the remaining 6.5 months I have stayed at several other places, including a delightful big room with a park view in a shared apartment so big that I have never seen all of it. It was located in an area called Eppendorf, full of parks, gigantic trees, and well-renovated apartment houses from the turn of the twentieth century. The only catch was the landlady, who was in her seventies (or maybe sixties, whatever) and rather pedantic.

In the beginning, she seemed quite nice, if a bit crazy (chanting the Gāyatrī mantra along Deva Premal records and the like). Then I started to get annoyed by her weird rules, but the last straw was when she asked me to repair her computer, which was not exactly broken but has gotten slower and slower over the years, as all Windows machines tend to do. I erased the hard drive and installed Ubuntu MATE on it, only to find out that we haven’t clarified what data had to be backed up, and well, wasn’t it obvious that everything on the Desktop had to be backed up as well?

From February to May I stayed at a cozy two-room apartment in Karolinenviertel, a notorious party area in Sankt Pauli district. I really liked that particular apartment and I could live there all by myself, but it was only a short-time offer, as the main tenant only rented the place to me for the duration of his research trip to Central America.

One thing I really liked about Germany was the astonishing quality of food and basically any other consumer goods. In Germany, eating organic is affordable and in fact quite common. Chinese, Italian, Vietnamese, and Turkish restaurants are ubiquitous and serve reliably delicious meals.