Imagine on a hot summer day after 9hrs at work, of which you spent talking to teenage divas. We all know how dramatic teenagers are. A teacher’s job never ends after goodbye class and has a lovely evening. No way, one would find themselves receiving thousands of emails asking what’s the day’s homework. As an ambitious teacher, you tell them only to be met by disappointments the next day.
Anyway, it’s summer; you’ve just had your fair share of the jungle with the teenage divas. All you’re looking forward to is a lukewarm shower, a nice dinner (bread) and Netflix, then an hour of reading before you sleep. The so-called regular routine.
As I was walking back from work enjoying the sun and rejoicing that finally my melanin is being restored- you must understand that a person gets stuck in winter for almost 6 months. That means less sun, and even in the two and a half months of summer, a person is forever stuck indoors because the heat is unbearable. Well, I get to my complex, and there is a strange barrier I’ve never seen before. That daunting thought; “what the heck, like why?” This followed by a slight panic flip, do I even have my access card.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, suddenly, the property manager thought it would be great to lock the gate while the people are at work. So I have to use the access cards to enter. I should most definitely not forget to close the gate as stated by the pink note in a language I do not understand. This was the worst thing of my life. Still, luckily, I shimmy my way through as one of the tenants was leaving. I was annoyed by this new thing because it is an inconvenience to most of us. I get to my building, to add salt to my wound, the damn doors are also locked. Talk about the worst afternoon. Anyway, I tried the intercom and remembered that I don’t fully understand the language, nor will those at the reception understand me. Comedy moment, to my luck, another tenant came by, and I waltz through the doors like the queen I am.
You have to understand my frustration; in a country that’s so safe, I barely pay attention to security or even locking our doors. It has not crossed my mind that there would be trespassers, but I guess they’ve experienced it; as a result, these drastic security measures. It might be due to the construction happening around hence the drastic measures. Even at the main gate, the security is so tight that not even a lizard could pass without being detected. The evenings after a nice outing and I need the DiDi driver to drop me off at the door have become challenging. 2am charades will never stop being funny. The security guide shouting things you do not understand all that you’re doing and saying is building 9, yes, me building 9- the redundancy.
For the morning and afternoon, my access card has become like my phone. I carry it everywhere, even when I take out my garbage, it will be bin, on one hand, phone, keys and access card in the other. Every morning before I leave my apartment, I go through the checklist; phone, keys, mask, laptop, charger, powerbank, correct cable, access card. Such a long task for a morning person like myself.
This access card comes with drama, if I don’t spend a good 2 minutes cursing because I forgot it I grin in misery. I have to apply the skill of patience because I am not going back to the 7th floor to fetch the damn card. Even when I’m running late, I’ll patiently wait for someone to open the gate. Furthermore, this dance does not work in the morning when the DiDi driver is waiting there and looking at the late foreigner; these drivers tend to call just to confirm it’s you and hell yeah, I know the language.
The locked gates will never be normal, and imagine on the days I cycle to work, drama. Bicycle, access card, gate, lifting; exhausting. If I don’t gain some arm muscles by the end of the year, God gave me the wrong body.
After all, life as a foreigner is odd and the new rules being implemented I tend to miss them due to the language barrier. I always rely on my landlord to inform me of any changes implemented at the complex. He knows I can’t read Chinese characters or understand the spoken language.