The view from the living room window. Beautiful.
This is the story of the apartment
So, I found this apartment from a website called ‘apartager.com’.
A panoramic shot of the living room. I sleep on the couch with the red blanket. The door to the toilet is on the far right. To the left of the picture is the desk — It makes this co-habitation possible. The door on the left is to the bedroom. The others sleep here.
A housemate turned landlord
This guy has done well for himself. He came from Spain, stayed in a hostel for a month, saving money, until he had enough cash to get his own place. Javier is the landlord. He collects the rent.
My understanding is Javier paid $4,000 to this guy called Danny. He takes on a sub-lease and becomes our landlord. Danny is the person who officially rents the apartment from the owner, so he must have been the person who provided enough cash to cover the security deposit on the initial sub-lease agreement.
Danny has a number of places operating in a similar way to dix-neuf rue Monsieur, and apparently, he goes by a few different names too.
This is where it gets good for Javier, and shit for everyone else. Javier pays Danny $4,000 and gets the rights to fill the apartment with tenants and collect rent. Javier has double the number of people he should have in the place, so he makes enough to pocket the cost of the rent each month. He then subtracts a small amount of money from the rent as a token gesture of apology when a new tenant complains that the advertised washing and clean facilities are fucked, and that they’re living with half a dozen other people.
I’m told making anything more than what’s listed on the initial agreement is illegal under French tenancy law. In a country that took equality and fucking ran with it I believe this to be true. One morning (lucky I hadn’t been smoking weed), the owner came around for a surprise inspection. Like in Australia this is completely illegal mind you. He is an old man somewhere between sixty and seventy years of age.
The thing I can remember about him is that he looked almost endearing in a harmless nerdy old man kind of way. Stripped collard shirt with Polo vest complete with tan pants — stuck in the early 2000’s (a faux pas for the Left Bank).
The old man knocks on the door, it’s a gentle knock and he must wait until I can be sure there is someone actually at the door.
I let him in. I speak fuck-all-French, he speaks a little more English, I am stoned, and although I was raised in an English speaking country, right now, I’m speaking gibberish.
I understand the look on his face, this much I get, it’s like he’s been slapped in the face with the penis of a wet fish.
“What… is… this?” His three word remonstrance is repeated over and over again.
I smile. This is truly grand, it’s English I can understand.”
I offer soft and soothing coos and ahhs, and maybe at one point almost stroke his head. “Good question, old French man… Good question, indeed. A small community is my best answer. Please come in and meet everyone. Would you like some tea? Just be sure to take your shoes off and place them in the cupboard.”
I open the closet where we keep our shoes and he baulks at about ten pairs of guys and girls shoes stacked from floor to ceiling.
What… is… this?”He says again.
A small community
Living with 12 people over 2 months.
When I moved into the apartment at the end of August, the following people lived in 19 rue Monsieur.
- Maria. Russian. Female. 22 y.o. From Saint Petersburg, she quit her job working for Citibank and wants to start a life in Paris.
- Jacko. Dutch. Male. 27 y.o. Had spent months in Australia before moving to Paris to continue his studies. He needed to pass his French language certificate to get accepted in to University.
- Malik. French. Male. 18-20 y.o. Malik is a quiet, dreadlocked, French journalist. He likes Bruce Lee. He speaks a little English, and is improving, but conversations with Malik hasn’t gone much further than an exchange of pleasantries.
- Jose. Venezuela. Male. 22 y.o. Studying French language. He finished his course just as I moved so I only lived with Jose for a couple of days.
- Anastasia. Russian. Female. Approx. 25. Studying Chemistry in Russia. She was only staying in the apartment for a week, visiting Jose before he left Paris. Anastasia and Jose met while travelling around Australia. Anastasia really wants to go back to Australia, she’s even applied for a visa to study down under. She’s still waiting on the application to be processed.
- Vincent. Indian. Male. Unknown. Like Jose, Vincent moved out shortly after I moved in. He worked nights, so I didn’t see him much other than enough to note that he wears a sharp suite.
People came and went pretty quickly. Jose and Anastasia moved on, and Vincent went back to his parents place. Vincent was replaced by a Polish guy, a guy name Yanik.
When I moved out, these are the people who were living in the apartment.
- Yanik. Male 20 y.o. Poland.
- Michael. Male. 21. y.o Hong Kong.
- Ida. Female. 20 y.o. Denmark.
- Karl. Male 20 y.o. Denmark.
- Malik. Same as above.
In the period between when I moved in and out, these people came and went: Yam, Javier and this Canadian kid.
There was also a girl from Hong Kong named Yam. She barely spoke any English, so conversation was pretty strained at the best of times. A phrase of her’s that will stick with me is, “You go to sleeping?” Infinitive forms can be troublesome for non-native speakers.
Yam had a penchant for stealing my tobacco. She would pretend to be interested in how to roll my cigarettes, and would assume the responsibility as cigarette dispenser and roller, presumably in an attempt to control my consumption. She also had a bit of a crush on me, I think, and I sneaked an innocent peck on the lips just as she was reaching for her bags to go to the airport. The circumstances around how this all came about are pretty puzzling to me. Apparently I told her I liked her when I was drunk. A few nights later she came up to me and was able to communicate that I may have said something which may have lead her to think I was interested in her. This is probably the truth. I can’t remember what happened that night other than that I consumer half a bottle of cheap vodka.
The bricks and mortar
It’s almost as bad as my place in Bathurst
Living with so many people, in such a small space… I thought it would be worse.
I’ve lived in a house with students before, I was a student too. This is not as bad as my place in Bathurst, but it’s pretty bad.
This is the kitchen. The washing machine is broken. If it worked, I doubt I would put shit in there anyway.
The toilet. It looks cleaner than it really is.
I’ll take any excuse to slip back into living like a bong fiend. And a perfect opportunity presented itself with the cramped and often uncomfortable living conditions of my Parisian residence. Weed is everywhere.
It started like this: At first I smoked with trepidation. In the bathroom. I would hold the smoke in my lungs for as long time to make as little disturbance as possible when I blew the smoke out.
Soon the bong came out to the living room. Progressively, the bong has become part of the furniture. Now, it warrants as much as attention as a lazy dog sleeping in the corner of the room.
Living with 6 or 7 people is like living in a small community.
What I find really interesting is this. People form their own groups, or ‘clicks’. Once that group is set, much like concrete, the existing click can’t be reshaped, only defaced with an outsider’s tag. You have to form your own ‘click’. Whether the new group comes from a collection of entirely new people, or the new group is comprised of some of the members from the old ‘click’, there can be no denying that when new people arrive in a spot where there’s already an established order of things, the new person can never really be a part of the old group, they must work to create their own organism with its own dynamic. So we wait for the old heads to fuck off and the new people to come in. This way we can start afresh with conscious ignorance of the previous occupants.
It sucks deciding who’s going to clean.
Definitely not the first person to experience this, but making sure everyone does their equal share of housework is a doozy. As soon as one person slacks off, unless the group addresses the issue as a whole, it starts a chain of dominoes that ends with nobody doing shit.
The best bit:
- Best street. Living in the worst place on the best street has its benefits. Fucking mad cafes just around the corner. Close to the Eiffel Tower too.
- No rules. Living with students means I give less of a shit about smoking dope. Even though we’re living in a cramped environment, I treat the place like a bong den. Nobody seems to mind.
- Relations. Meeting, and living with this number of people has taught me a few lessons.
The worst bit:
- Sleep on a couch. It’s comfortable. But it’s still a couch — “wanna come back to my couch? It folds out.”
- The filth. Living with students. The most Lazy and generally messy phase of our lives. I am not a student.
- Relations. Don’t fraternize with your housemates. It doesn’t matter how horny you are, going down this path can only lead to awkwardness.