Saturday, March 10, 2007

peacocks = not fierce enough

In normal situations I would have pulled out my camera and documented the nonsense. But when you have a broker whispering in your ear, "this is very luxury," you try to pretend like this isn't the most shitacious apartment you've ever seen.

I have spent the last week of my life (a week that I'll never get back) looking at flats in Cairo. I thought I'd be able to find something 'very luxury' at a rock-bottom price. But no. Basically, what happens in Cairo is that everything is done through a simsar, or broker. They have a list of names/numbers/places that they call upon your request. They show you the places and then charge you 10-100% of the first month's rent. Fine, whatever. I've slept in enough roach-infested places with no hot water in my life that sometimes I'm willing to pay a bit extra for convenience.

The problem is, unlike most brokers in NYC, these dudes don't have their shit together. I have sat in fat, old men's apartments for hours on end while they finger their chicken-scratched diaries and call people who they THINK MIGHT have a place to rent me. And when they do find a place that's 'available' they don't make the necessary arrangements with the landlord to get me in there.

For example:

Broker: Hi. Do you have a studio, 1 BR, or 2 BR available?
Landlord: Yes.
Broker: Okay, how big/ how much?
Landlord: Such and such.
Broker: Thanks, bye.

Broker to me: She has something available, do you want to see it?
Me: Yes, why didn't you make an appointment with her? You knew my budget.
Broker: This is out of my hands.
Me: What is out of your hands, you shithead?
Broker: The tenants are on holiday and its against the law to let you in without them being home.

What?! Against the law? I'm sorry, I thought we were in fucking Egypt!! Even if we were in America (a land that isn't exactly lawless) and the broker could smell the cash oozing out of my pores, he'd do everything in his power to get my scrawny, white ass in that flat and my cash in his greasy hands ASAP. Am I wrong in this assumption?

The other problem is that a lot of landlords were willing to give me a place for 2-3 months, but wanted me out or to pay more in the summer. Between the months of May and September, the city is flooded with people from the Gulf, men primarily. They descend upon the city for a no-holds-barred sex-fest with anything they can get their hands on. Everyone knows about this and actually encourages it - otherwise the rents wouldn't be so grossly inflated.

Anyway. After seeing one too many places that were either a) disgusting b) full of gold furniture and mirrors with peacocks etched into them (I did actually consider moving into one of these peacock palaces because it was cheap and so tacky it was fierce, but I need a place that doesn't make me feel like a Kuwaiti), I decided to exploit my network of friends here.

I ended up moving in to a place in Garden City. I actually never even considered moving to this area in the first place even though it makes so much sense now. It's near downtown, 20 minute walk to my gym, close to the metro which takes me to my school, it's fabulous. It's not gross and it's not luxe, it's somewhere in between in a Lenora-on-Hooper-sort-of-way. I even have my own balcony! Although, my roommate is lame-o. When I first met her I thought she was cool, but I was wrong. I realize I'm a terrible judge on character, but I don't know how I didn't see this one.

Fortunately, she's moving out in a month or two and I can get someone fierce up in that shit.


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