fun with flats (II): bathroom gatherings, anarchy and warning hooters

Fun with flats continues. After having spend my first semester in an anonymous student residency, I decided I was up for a more social place. So I moved into my first real shared flat. The evening with the plum wine had been very promising and I was looking forward to a cosy and fun new place to live.

Well, in retrospect I might have been a little naive.

My sister helped me move and we bought my first own furniture. A bed, a desk and a drawer. I moved into a 30 square metre room. Suddenly, I was surrounded by space. An additional piece of furniture was the old oven. Because, as the building had not been renovated, there was no central heating. The coal was stored in the basement. We lived on the fourth floor without elevator. Thank god that I moved there in spring…

When my father heard about the oven he said: “You should always keep your window a little bit open at night. When heating with an oven there is always a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. And since you are sleeping at night you won’t notice it. You will simply not wake up the next morning.”

Always good for a cheer-up, my dad!

But the oven wasn’t the problem. Neither was the barely furnished room. The problem turned out to be my flatmates.

On my first day, my flatmate gave me the keys and showed me around. As soon as we entered the flat, he mentioned: “Oh, by the way, we always leave the key outside in the entrance door! Everyone in the building does!” “Why?” I asked. “Because that way everyone can enter any flat if he or she needs something. You know, if you need some flour, you could just go to our neighbours flat and get some.” “Oh, ok.” I answered, feeling slightly concerned. It didn’t appear very safe to me to just leave the key in the entrance door and neither did I like the prospect of all the other inhabitants simply walking into our flat. But well.

A minute later, my flatmate showed me a warning hooter. “And what is that for?” I asked. “Oh, we recently accommodated a friend who got into some troubles with some Neonazis. So in case they show up for revenge, you use the hooter and someone in the building will come and help you!” he answered (completely earnest, may I add). I stared at him. Didn’t he just told me to always leave our entrance door open? Somehow, this didn’t go as well as I’d hoped for.

He showed me the bathroom. Old, but fine. But…”Oh, in case you are wondering: there is no key for the bathroom. We don’t lock the door.” Mh. Either the plum wine was more intense than I remembered or they left this piece of information out when we first met. Well, at least the restroom had a lock. Apparently, social gatherings stop when it starts to smell bad.

The next morning, I got up early as I neither wanted my flatmates nor any neighbours or neonazis to visit me while I was taking a shower. A little while later I had a coffee in the kitchen. My flatmate got up, waved me a good morning and went into my room. I stretched to see what he was doing in there. He went to the windows, opened them and took a deep breath. I was slightly bewildered.

A few days later, I wanted to brush my teeth in the evening. I opened the bathroom door only to see my flatmate taking a bath (and drinking a beer). He generously invited into the bathroom (“No, no, do come in, that’s fine!”).

During my next seminar, one of the other students in the course asked me where I live. I told him the address. “Oh, you live in the anarcho-house?” “I beg your pardon?”. “Your building! Isn’t it the anarcho house?”. Ah. Slowly everything added up. Maybe I should have paid more attention to all the graffiti and the posters in the hallway. But gee, I hadn’t had any experience with the anarcho-crowd.


not our house. but it gives you an impression.

The weird situations continued. The most lively one I remember was the day when Poland joined the European Union. My flatmates had friends from Berlin coming over and everyone went out to celebrate. In the middle of the night I suddenly woke up because one of the friends was continuously shouting: “Let me in!! Let me in!!”. I considered getting up in order to open the entrance door because apparently someone dared to lock it. But when I was halfway out of bed, I heard my flatmate shouting: “We can’t let you in! You are in the restroom! You have to turn the key around to get out!”, followed by loud noises indicating the riddance of superfluous food and booze…

I soon realised that this wasn’t the ultimate living experience I had hoped for. I am no anarchist. Nor do I appreciate communal bathing sessions. Not to mention the threat of being beaten up by Neonazis in the middle of the night. After one semester, I decided to move out again. When my father arrived after the semester break to help me move my stuff, he took one look at the building and just said: “Dry rot!”. Unfortunately, we also discovered that my flatmates moved all my stuff to the attic while I was away….good thing that I didn’t stuff my room!

After this social trauma, I decided to take a step back. I moved into a single room in a student residence.

(to be continued)

About erdhummel

Familial entropy - that's an insight into our current life which has been fundamentally changed last summer when our daughter was born. Having studied in Cottbus, Germany, and worked/studied in Edinburgh, Scotland, we momentarily live in a small town in Switzerland where Karsten is trying to save the environment and Freddie is trying to save our sanity. Since there is not much time for elaborate, long emails while doing that, we thought a blog might be a good option to smuggle ourselves into the lifes of our friends.
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