Monthly Archives: September 2010

Leaving Home Part 3

I looked like a Scottish Stereotype,sitting in my underwear,smoking away in junkie squalor. Fabian smiled never the less and introduced himself. He had a gelled fringe and an orange coloured jumper. After a short introduction Fabian decided to go to the Olympic village. He offered me along. I declined. I’m not sure why. Perhaps I was still feeling overwhelmed. Or perhaps I just felt comfortable and safe in my Marks and Spencer’s briefs.

That night it was time to meet the group. I was up for this. It was like entering the big brother house. I couldn’t wait to meet the characters I’d spend all my time with the next few weeks. I had a new-found confidence running through my blood stream. For some reason – even though I had never met these people or been in this position – felt like we already had one thing in common.

As I got the lift down to the third floor I shared the space with a blonde girl and her boyfriend. There was no introductions nor a hello. Just polite smiles. We stepped out the lift greeted by a pool table,a small corner shop and a bar with comfortable looking sofas and a big tv. There was a long table with chairs and a welcome pack on each space. Some of the group had arrived. I hovered. Everyone did the same.After ten minutes or so most people  had arrived and it was time to sit down and meet the group.

Our tour guide was a young Chinese lady (not that obvious – we had a French Canadian guy later on in the trip) whose name escapes me just now. Lucy perhaps? Answers on a postcard please. She seemed fun (i’e – easily swayed into a drink or two) As it turns out – I was right. LACY! That’s her name. Competition now closed.

First on the agenda was the mandatory introductions followed by a drawn out run down, of the next few weeks –

“My name is Darren and I am from Aberdeen,Scotland. First time away on my own so you all have to be nice to me”.

Great i thought. Could of said something cool.Of course most people we’re in the same boat. I felt like I already knew the answer to the others questions (after all – I did look at the check in sheet) I had already mapped out drunken scenarios and unforgettable experiences. Everyone at the table had a part to play. Some more than others.

Jim had caught my eye. As pale and as ginger as you like from Doncaster. He was also alone. I don’t recall our first conversation but im about 99 percent sure it was about football. The guy knew more about the SPL than I did. We had soon found a lot of common ground (same bull shit girl troubles that plagues us all from time to time)and I remember staying up untill the early hours playing pool most of the night and drinking beer. He had left for the same reasons as me. To get out the UK.

“Why China?” I asked him. He didn’t know really. Just like me.

I had made a friend. Abd after the trip it wasn’t going to be the last i seen of Jim…..

I went to bed with a full day ahead of me in the morning. And I couldn’t wait to get stuck in. I’m not going to lie and say I knew much about the city and what it had to offer. The plan was to find someone who did and latch onto them. As it turned out – I ended up doing that the whole trip. I really should have read some books or at least did some sort of research,but to be honest i liked the fact I was stepping into the unknown. I’m not one for being stuck behind a camera or lost in a guide-book. Losing my wallet is more my style. Passing out in a gutter. Putting my last quid in a bandit. And I’m all the better for it. Now of course times have changed. Without even knowing it  – I became fairly organised. Off to Tiananmen square  – one of China’s most famous landmarks followed by the Forbidden City. It was a grey,dull day but we we’re in good spirits. Before every section of the tour there was a little history lesson by our guide. By the second hour – I had switched off. Terrible I know. It was grand,impressive and the obvious way to start a trip in Beijing. However since the group had only recently met we had one eye on where we would drink at night. Luckily – someone else was already on to that.

That evening we gathered the troops together and headed out. Rumour had it that there was a strip of clubs and bars somewhere. I really couldn’t envision it. I hadn’t seen one bar or even anything that looked like one, on my travels so far. Of course this is China. The party wouldn’t come looking for us. We would have to go to it. What seemed like countless underground stops and miles of walking we arrived. Out of the darkness came this bustling,bright and seedy strip lined with music bars and hookers. I really wasn’t expecting it. I guess I was a little naive aswell as unprepared.Most bars we’re packed and we had a large group. It was going to be a problem getting everyone in,sat and drunk.We had walked the strip twice. I decided to speak up as we already had started to lose people and some we’re becoming impatient (including myself).I suggested we sat in the first bar that could hold us untill we decided on a better idea. Fuck the prices and fuck the venue. We could always move on later.

“Lets just grab a seat eh? Happy folks?”

Deal.

We we’re greeted by a musical performance by what can only be described as the Chinese Steven Segal backed by The Cheeky Girls. He had a terrible backing track and lip synched every word.He was supported by the terrible dancing and backing vocals of cheeky girl 1 and 2. Don’t worry though. He made sure we all knew his guitar was working by crancking a chord out  before songs,then continue to fake that too. In short – it was utterly brilliant. They seemed to love it and we did too. Plus cheeky girl 2 was hot. Winners all round. I have no idea how that night ended. All I remember is we had fun. And for a group of strangers that we’re stuck together for the next month or two – that was important.

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FOR ALL THE COWS – Another new beginning.

The decision was relatively easy.Continue to  deal with the ups and mostly downs of working in the family restaurant or pack up what little belongings I had and try my hand in another country?(albeit under different circumstances than the last time).

After a year working in Sunny Brisbane,Australia and having the experience of my life in Asia,coming home to Aberdeen was never going to sit well in my freshly pressed sense of  freedom and adventure. I had changed in many ways. Aberdeen stubbornly stayed the same and arguably was worse than when i had left. Don’t get me wrong.I’m proud to be Aberdonian and as much as it pains me at times,do love my home City. But there was nothing left for me there. I had gotten as much as I could out of it.

I have great friends. My family has its moments just like everyone else but of course – I love them regardless.Since leaving school I had a half-hearted attempt at further education. “Drama you say? Acting and performance? Well that’s a Mickey Mouse course. I’ll stroll through that!” Needless to say – I failed. Not through lack of ability,but through  lack of ambition. It wasn’t on its way anytime soon. At the time it was something else to do before the grind of working full-time came along.

However I have now spent  the past 6 or so years working in Kitchens or on the floor of an ever-increasing list of Restaurants.It’s something I am very comfortable with and for someone with little academic credentials,I hold it close knowing it’s all I really have.Do I plan on doing this my whole life? Well no. However hospitality will always be there and if you are good at it – there will always be work. Finally (it’s been a long time coming)I  have other plans. After an amazing time in Asia I decided that teaching English is actually a viable option for myself. Clichéd I know. However finding something that One – Interests me,and  Two – Sticks – comes along very rarely. And when it does I make an attempt to grab it with two hands.  This time they’re no excuses although always distractions. The difference is, i am now fully aware of my faults but feel one step ahead of them.

So how do I find myself in Konstanz? Well that’s easy. A girl of course!  I had met her in a hostel in Thailand on the way home to Scotland. It was certainly unexpected but not a hinderance in the grand scheme of things. I had no plans as such for my life than. I had pencilled in returning home,working for a few months and getting away again.Anywhere. It didn’t matter. I had caught the travel bug,and getting on the road again would be the only cure. It had soon arisen that the road would end in Germany for the time being. I fell in love. What can I say? And as i was at a loose end it really wasn’t a question of if I would move over  – but when. Seven months later. Here I am. The adventure is certainly not over or on hold. It is just beginning all over again but in a completely different way to what I had envisioned. Lets face it. When does what you picture really come to life? Very rarely. Things change. People change. Times change. Your dreams may not. However whether you achieve these or not all depends on the above. Don’t get me wrong – I do believe that you can achieve most things you put your mind to. But in order to be successful you must attempt to control the ever-changing factors  around you. Otherwise you may find your dreams  lost at sea without a paddle.

So where do I start? Well the next few weeks will be spent getting my feet on the ground,becoming familiar with my surroundings and then the inevitable job hunt. As I don’t speak the language i will be applying for kitchen jobs. As I become more confident,meet some people and become a part of the scenery I will move forward from there. Im happy to feel this one out. Lets see where the tide takes me.