Post no. 10: This one’s about apartments, a hip loft, and tantric massages

I’ve been so busy that I may have made a bee (or two) hang its head in shame.

I’ve enrolled in Coursera‘s program for an Entrepreneurship course by UMD. There’s another upcoming course (Creative Development for Apps) that I am thinking of doing, but more on that next time.

What’s REALLY been keeping me busy is Apartment hunting. Oh. Mah. Gawwwwwd. Online search (Westsiderentals, Craigslist, Arpartmenthunterz, Livelovely, Zillow, Trulia, Hotpads, PadMapper), Offline hunt (i.e. exploring neighbourhoods on foot to spot on-site “Vacancy” signages), I’ve done it all. On average, that’s 7500 steps a day. It’s great exercise and an awesome way to get acquainted with Santa Monica and Venice.

And that’s just the prep work.

Then came the actual viewings.

Cute little ones

Cute little Spanish villas

Tight, cozy ones

Cozy ones

Cute garden

With sweet little gardens

Spacious but feels-like-you're-trapped-in-time-and-underground ones

Spacious but feels-like-you’re-trapped-in-time-and-underground ones

Sleepy/Creepy hollow ones

Sleepy/Creepy hollow ones

And magnificent lofts

And magnificent lofts

Dingy ones, bright ones, nice hardwood floors, disgusting carpets that look like breeding ground for all things gross, large rooms you can waltz around in while swinging 2 cats who are also doing the waltz, tiny closets that can’t even keep a week’s worth of underwear, showers with spotlights, bitchy property agents, competitive fellow viewers who eye you suspiciously during the same tour… the list goes on.

We’ve scoured though hundreds of listings and viewed about a dozen places. Some tours took as long as 20 mins (like the loft), while others literally took seconds. *shudder*

Things we took for granted back home are now additional things we have to consider: is there parking space or is it street parking? On which day does the car need to be moved to make way for street cleaning? Is laundry within the unit or on-site for sharing? Does it come with a fridge (apparently it’s not common)? Closet space sufficient? Is there a crack den next door? Does it have heating?

And in return we get interrogated: What’s your credit score? Do you have pets? What do you do? Do you have perfect teeth? Do you have big feet? Ok, I made the last 2 up, but you get the drift.

Ok hang on. I need to take a toilet break. Maybe you need one too. If you don’t, then it means you need to have a water/coffee break now. Go!

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Ok. Back.

So here’s the unprecedented drama that left Mr Sweetheart and I speechless and slightly confused. But after speaking to friends here after that, the situation turned out to be less than normal in this town (thank god!!) and a story that sent his colleagues into peals of laughter:

We felt in love with a loft. It was tastefully furnished (and furnished places are rare here), good location, great space and since it had been on the market for 103 days, its originally exorbitant price coincidentally tumbled on the day we found the listing – I say that, but it was still going to be 40% above our ideal budget. But what the heck. YOLO. So we made an appointment for a viewing over the weekend. The property agent was a slightly comical looking, petite fella with light grey eyes, dark hair, olive skin and a thick spanish accent – let’s call him Hombre. Of course, Hombre looked hardly like his Rico-suave “property agent-esque” glam shot on his sleek company website. Quite a space cadet. But hey, I hate to judge a book by its cover so I gave him the benefit of the doubt.

Hombre rings the doorbell.

No answer.

Oops. Hombre realised that we were on the wrong floor. Nevermind.

We ring the doorbell of the unit on the next level.

No answer. Hombre assures us he got it right this time.

5 buzzes and 7 minutes later, the door opens. We see a slim, late 20s/early 30s, fresh-faced guy – blue jeans, white tee, and an unbuttoned orange shirt – sleeves folded up to the elbows. Middle-easternish, but with an American accent. Slim Shady don’t seem too happy. Oh boy.

Slim Shady aka Landlord: I didn’t know you were coming

Hombre: Oh, Tony didn’t tell you? Sorry, I informed him that there’s a viewing today.

Cut to us. *Speech bubble*: WHO IS TONY? THE MAFIA? Ok, let’s just keep quiet and see where this goes.

Slim Shady: It’s ok, c’mon in guys. Sorry, we all just woke up so.. (trails off)

Us (ever so polite): oh..you sure it’s ok? ok cool, sure, sorry to intrude, thanks, hello! *awkward chuckle*

IT IS A BEAUTIFUL LOFT. JUST LIKE THE PHOTOS. But with many signs of human life inhabiting it. MANY. And the shades were all  drawn only halfway, windows closed, so it was kinda dim and the air was still. But still, BEAUTIFUL interior.

There are no doors in the loft. Just partitioned spaces. We headed to the bedroom. 2 ladies (fully decked in Juicy Couture sweatsuits ala Kardashian sisters) scuttled about the room and the ensuite bathroom as if they just got hurried to get ready. Sweet perfume wafting in the air. One of them looked a lot like Kim K. (i.e. hot, a lot of make-up, tousled long dark hair) The other one was in big black shades and a headwrap – wah, so glamorous – at 11am. I’d say that friendliness isn’t one of their strong suits. Or maybe they just aren’t people who enjoy the company of strangers-who-appear-unannounced.

Still in the bedroom, what looked like arabic writings on regular paper and art paper sat on a seat in the corner of the room, and framed ones are hang on the walls, with a prayer mat nearby. Women’s shoes lie neatly along the entire length of the bedroom wall on 1 side, 4 large suitcases lie open, filled with women’s clothing. The walk-in closet is neatly filled to the brim with women’s clothes. The expansive bathroom with a huuuge bathtub, double-length sink, shower stall and water closet also had toiletries, lingerie, fashion accessories, etc organised and laid out. The scene was akin to the dressing room of a Shoot. These chicks ruled the place. And is Slim Shady their lover, pimp, druglord?? He explains that they are his sisters. Hmm. Ok.

Cut to the other room which was supposed to be a study. We see a mattress on the floor tucked in a corner next to the window. A grey bearded old man in his 60s is on it, seated up with his back leaning against the wall – a duvet covers the lower half of his body. He looks like he just woke up.

Speeach bubble: huh?? Who da heck is this dude now?? In a flash, he looked a bit like a notorious rebel leader. You know who I’m talkin’ about.

The wall behind him has frames of art that look like arabic text, and pencil drawings of arabic text that visualise some type of design. “Visual poetry perhaps?”, I think to myself.. “doesn’t resemble floor plans of any sort, so we should be okay”.

Then I spot a pair of crutches next to the bed. “OMG, does this man not have legs??” (On hindsight, that statement was utterly bimbotic) Anyhoo, he does have legs. He just has a bad back. He’s Slim Shady’s father and with his daughters, they have come from Jeddah to visit Slim Shady (a Dentist at a local Uni) for 3 months. Slim Shady explains that he has found another place to move to – somewhere that suits the new household composition since his bachelor pad has clearly turned into a living nightmare for him. He was happy for us to rent all his furniture, but would like to take his study desk with him – a beautiful piece that used to be part of an aeroplane wing.

We ask about the rent. Hombre and Slim Shady exchanged looks and wonder out loud what Tony has arranged. It seems Tony is Slim Shady’s property agent and Hombre’s a co-broker. “Tony knows everything, I’ll leave it to him.”, Slim Shady says and that concluded the viewing. He hands us his namecard and says he specializes in Aesthetic Dentistry.  Hmph. I get the hint. *bears fangs*

Cut to the following day.

I was tired but excited as I was up the entire night before, literally dreaming and thinking about the loft. 9am on Sunday morning, I texted Hombre to ask for a 2nd viewing.

Hombre calls and says Tony has not responded with a viewing time. But he knows Tony has received an application from someone else for the loft. But advises us to try and reach out to Slim Shady directly to arrange for a viewing. But not to mention that it’s his idea.

At the 2nd viewing, we bump into Slim Shady at the carpark. He’s on the way out but says his dad is home to let us in. Says his agent is already drafting up a lease for another application, but we can still go ahead and view the place anyway and his agent will handle it. And also, he needs a month to look for another place to move to. Totally different to what he said the day before. Weirdness, but what the heck.

Slim Shady had left the door unlocked. We went in and found his dad in the same position as the day before – on the mattress. Only this time, he’s doing something on a macbook that’s perched on a Nikon camera cardboard box, he’s got earphones on -Mint green ones. Like so:

wah, quite a hip old man

wah, quite a hip old man (pic borrowed from: http://www.chantillysongs.com)

Oh, and not to mention bags of pills and vitamins next to the bed. Oh what a scene.

After viewing the place, we go to say bye to hipster uncle and then the weirdness goes full steam ahead:

Him to Mr Sweetheart (points at me): I’ve been to Singapore many times.. I used to be an Engineer with XXX airlines.. Ah, you got yourself a good one. They are very good at massages.

Mr Sweetheart: Uh, yes she is.

Him: You are a lucky man. I can teach you a thing or two. But don’t tell my son. hahaha! Come, give me your hand boy, I’ll show you what I mean. (He proceeds to use one hand to massage Mr Sweetheart’s thumb and index finger) See?

Mr Sweetheart: Hmm.. oh I see. (Clearly, I know he has noooo clue what the dude was on about)

Him: Now, you try. And he does the same to me for like 15 seconds (i.e. foreverrrrrr)

*speech bubble* from me: WTF? Other than the fact that I was having my fingers massaged by a total stranger twice my age, lying on a bed and who clearly isn’t a professional masseuse, I felt no physical effect. If that was supposed to turn me on, it surely didn’t. Thank God.

Me: Hmm.. interrresting.

Him (to both of us): I have learnt how to do these special massages. I will teach you both and when you do it together, you will look at each other like new. Just please don’t tell my son. Come, I’ll give you my number. I can come to you and teach you. Just, please, don’t tell my son.

He fumbles with 2 phones, and mumbles that he can’t remember his number. Says a few numbers out loud and wonders if they are right. He then asks for my number and says he’ll give me a missed call.

At this point, I look at Mr Sweetheart. His eyes are wide and spell “F.R.E.A.K.I.N.G. O.U.T”.

I look at my phone, switch it off and go, “oh no… my battery just went flat and it’s a new number so I can’t remember it! 😦 Why don’t you just tell me the number you remember and I’ll just write it down”. I grab a tissue from the box on the ex-airplane wing desk next to me and a pen. “See, I’ll write it down here.”

Tantric massage offering bearded middle-eastern man in his sixties starts getting perplexed that he can’t recall his number and starts to try to get up from his bed. OMGGGGGG

“Sir, please watch your bad back. it’s ok, we really like your son’s place and we will be making an offer after this so I’m sure we will meet again and you can give us your number then. We’d better go now. See you. Byeeee!!”

Mr Sweetheart and I gave our most earnest grins and bounded outta there.

Went to wash our hands at the nearest washroom we could find – 2 buildings away. More weirdness – it was a Herb Doctor’s clinic that felt odd, almost cult-like – check out the website to see what I mean.

To top off the weirdness, check this out: we called Hombre to ask if we could put in an application for the loft (after all, the family would have moved out of there so we could block the tantric massage/indecent proposal episode and pretend it never happened) and guess what? He now says that Tony is happy with the other offer and won’t consider other applications. A few hours later, Hombre calls and suggests that we should outbid the other offer by putting in a higher rent price.

All in all, WEIRRRRRD.

After thinking hard, we decided that there were just too many things that didn’t seem right. Mr Sweetheart also had a bad feeling about Hombre all along, but I felt he was just too quick to judge. I guess we were so enamoured with the place that we ignored our instincts and tried to see beyond the obvious.

Looking back at it now, it was all sooo crazy. I believe in signs. And there were just too many signs that I tried to ignore. Never again. 🙂

Phew! That was it. If you are still reading, thank YOU. You deserve a medal for braving through the above wordcount. I appreciate your time with me. Really.

Well, let’s see what lies ahead. Wish us luck! 😉

xxx – ms wee

Problems are not stop signs, they are guidelines.

– Robert H. Schuller

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