I used to assume only junkies, frat boys and the broke were evicted from their homes. But this week that stereotype was shattered when I became an evictee.
Last Sunday evening I was walking up to my apartment building when my landlady called me over with concern in her voice. After inquiring how my family was, she began to tell me that the owners of my apartment were returning to Kyrgyzstan. She explained to me that after almost three months in Russia they had been unable to find work because of this global crisis and were financially forced to come back to Jalal Abad. They would be arriving the next day and wanted their apartment back. At this last statement my jaw dropped. Finding a furnished apartment in Jalal Abad within the price range that Peace Corps had allocated was difficult and with the time crunch I didn’t know what I was going to do. Images of sleeping on my suit cases in other volunteer’s homes or me curled up on my office floor started running through my mind. My landlady must have seen the alarm in my face because she immediately started telling me that she has started asking her friends if they knew of any apartments and that all would be fine!
Since there is no Craig’s List to go look up apartments online in Jalal Abad the only thing I could do was call the other city volunteers and my NGO to let them know that starting the next day I would need their help to find a new apartment. From Monday through Wednesday, I got in touch with everyone I knew, went to real estate agents- who were located in stalls in the bazaar- and prayed for just one more day before the family began banging on my door and kicked me out.
On Thursday morning my landlady told me the family didn’t want to stay with the father’s family any longer and wanted to move in that day. At that moment, all the sympathy I had for the unemployed family disappeared. I told my landlady to tell them moving out wasn’t possible, I hadn’t started packing and I had nowhere to go; I needed one more day.
As I walked out of my apartment, I felt the week’s exhaustion hit me right in the face. I had finally found two apartments to look at and now I would be forced to take one of them. The first apartment I saw was over my price range by 1000 som (that’s a lot of money for a volunteer) and the second apartment was in my range but the only furniture in it was an old sofa that reeked of mildew!
That evening, as I was walking home to call my site mates and ask if I could sleep on their couch, I ran into my landlady once again. She looked about as tired as I did, seeing as we had both been looking for apartments for three straight days. She told me she knew of one last apartment and we could look at it in 20 minutes. Two hours later, she called me and told me we could finally see it. Conveniently, the apartment was just across the street, so the two of us walked over in our slippers to find a fully furnished apartment within my price range!
We walked back to the apartment relieve to have finally found an apartment and then said goodnight. But right as I had sat down and taken my shoes off, my landlady started knocking on the door again. Now she didn’t look so relieved, rather she looked quite mad! She told me she would help me start packing because the family was coming that night. With both of us mad as hell, we took a shot of rum and started throwing things into suitcases. She called a neighbor’s son to help me carry things across the street as she continued to pack up all my things. Over the course of the move I taught my two helpers a commonly used English phrase; “This is bullshit!” Believe me, I gave them plenty of examples to incorporate it into conversation!
Until ten o’clock at night this poor boy and I lugged bags from one apartment to the other, dumped out the suitcases and went back to the apartment for another load. The entire time I was moving, I kept going over in my head all the things I would say to this owner if I saw her. I wanted to ask her why she didn’t call me two weeks ago, I wanted to tell her how inconsiderate she was, and as I prepared the last suitcase I saw her pull up in her SUV! At that point I was so tired, all I could manage to say was that it had been a terrible week. With that said, I said goodnight and went home.
9 years ago