July 28, 2014

OMG, Giardia

Now that I am living in America I am able to understand a lot of the conversations taking place around me. Nearby my apartment in the Tenderloin, many of the conversations are being had by insane members of society with themselves.

Conversations often border on the ridiculous even when the listener is not imaginary. For example, I was sitting on the steps by the water's edge at the Georgetown Waterfront Park enjoying the view of the Potomac River on a Sunday afternoon. I overheard one young woman make a eyebrow raising comment to her friend who had asked her what she thought of the view:

Whenever I see water I'm like 'Oh my god, giardia! I'm gonna die!'

July 10, 2014

The Tenderloin

I have lived a life of relative luxury most of the past 6 to 7 years, minus a nightmarish shared existence with 13 other men in a hovel in Mumbai. In San Francisco, my first month was spent in a spectacular cliffside abode in North Beach. I would wake up to a dramatic view of the monumental Bay Bridge for four weeks, but as the clock ticked away on my company housing I had to find a place of my own.

Despite a tremendously high number of drug addicts, lunatics, techies, and bums wandering its streets, a decaying transit system that last saw upgrades well before my birth, and an overwhelming scent of urine and marijuana consistently wafting through the air, San Francisco is one of the most desirable places to live in America. The city has a sizzling hot rental market, with property prices as high as many of its citizens. As the world's premier tech hub, the Bay Area draws in the best and brightest from the world, and all these outsiders need accommodation. The skyrocketing housing prices have even driven potential homeowners back into the rental market, increasing rents for all. 

During my first month in town, I spent my weekends and evenings visiting many apartments either via direct appointment with the property manager or at scheduled open houses. Most were hideous, ancient, or in shady neighbourhoods such as the infamous Tenderloin district, where Will Smith lined up for a free meal at a soup kitchen in the movie Pursuit of Happyness. The decent apartments had over 50 other applicants, some of whom boasted about their large salaries and bonuses out loud to scare away the competition. 

I also investigated a few short term sublets, but the current tenants were either clinically insane, unregistered sex offenders, or complete no shows. I was waiting for over 30 minutes for one one guy to show me his apartment and had to use the washroom in the meantime. I found a public bathroom but it was locked. About ten minutes later the door opened. I saw the couple who sleep inside were dusting off and packing up their belongings before heading out for the day. 

With my stay in North Beach coming to an end, I had to make a quick decision amongst a bevy of undesirable options (much like a Korean woman must do when choosing a mate). I settled on an apartment on the fringes of the Tenderloin. At any given time I am sure to have at least one of the following three items - Internet access, warm water, and a leaking toilet. My window faces an open air bar. It gets extremely loud during the weekends, but that at least drowns out the howls of despair, shrieks of agony, and wails of police sirens which would otherwise occupy my auditory range. 


In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of. ~ Confucius