21 August 2007

Long Time No Blog

Going to post in detail another time because the WiFi at home is now secured, so I only have internet at work or in the cafe! Probably, I have been downloading too much, that's why...

# Went to Brick Lane for the first time
# Stayed over at Lila's & Clare's so often that I should actually pay rent already. After I came home on Friday it was as if I had been on holiday. The whole cupboard of mugs was in my room with mold on the teabags and a huge heap of dirty clothes was taking up space, too. So I did some serious dishwashing and laundry
# Was on an awesome picnic in Hampstead Heath (pictures are online!)
# Appeared on a dinner which took place the next day (so typical me, isn't it?)
# Going to Brighton on Thursday on a Volunteer's day out at work
# And on Friday I depart for an exhausting hiking weekend in Wales

11 August 2007

Bureaucracy & Pregnancy

Another update:
# Debt collectors kept calling at least twice a day at different times at our landline (our telephone equivalent of a spam e-mail address) to speak to a person which 1) does not live here anymore and 2) which had settled the issue three weeks ago even though it was not her fault.
I told them every. single. time. that they called that she was on holiday and does not live here anymore by the way. They said they would have to call until they get hold of that person. So I offered them her mobile number abroad. "We don't do that. We only call numbers in the UK". As an alternative, I offered them her e-mail address. "We are sorry but we don't do that". Irritated, I asked how they expected to get hold of that person if they do not accept any alternative contact details.

Whenever they call, I can tell it is them because the first thing they say is, "Can I speak to...?" or "Ms xxx?". I don't know where these people come from but where I come from, people usually introduce themselves before they make any demands. The last time I talked to them and that I will have picked up the phone, I was really angry because they keep spamming me and I keep telling them every time the same thing and they do not stop. Actually something you could call harassment and something which can count as a criminal offence. So, in determination to end this spamming once and for all, I started explaining as much as I know about that girl's case and that they can keep calling but that she is in the right. That I do not care if they show up on my doorstep to ask for my proof of identity etc. etc. and the guy had the guts to calmly say, "I have to end this call now." I told him that he had no reason to be rude and hang up on him.

I haven't picked up the phone ever since. I am so annoyed at them for telephone terrorising me like this! Lila said a good method is to threaten them to report them to the financial ombudsman, a person which I like more and more the more I deal with HSBC and all these people.

# Two people in our flat also received court summons for non-payment of council tax. But: A few weeks ago, they demanded payment of the amount even though all three girls sent in their student confirmations (students are exempt from paying council tax) MONTHS AGO several times because they kept losing it or something. One of the girls called them up in response to that and settled the matter. As a consequence, they sent a confirmation that the girls owned them nothing. A few days later, we received another bill demanding the payment of the full amount of council tax and a threat that legal action will be taken soon. In response, the same girl called them up and then sent the student confirmation AGAIN via e-mail, fax and recorded letter so they cannot say they lost it. Horrible.

But that is the system here in the UK. There is not one person working on your case but many. Probably it is a database from where people take their pick when they come in in the morning. *rolling eyes*

# Something which is also annoying is that when you look up the bank branch telephone number on the yellow pages or on the HSBC website, you will always find the same number which is one where you will be asked for your account number, sorting code, date of birth and security number before you FINALLY reach the EXTENSIVE menu (the whole thing is a machine). if you manage to have the patience to wait until "to speak to a customer representative, please press X", you are put through to someone sitting somewhere in India where they manage all the calls instead of someone at your local branch around the corner. Even UK people find it frustrating (I heard a woman complaining about it yesterday in a branch, that is why I remembered that I have to write about this). Someone even asked Lila once if she could spell London. *lol*

# I have just got my first precription! Did I mention that I had to deliver a sample and I had to come back to deliver a second one? Well, on Monday and Tuesday last week I slept too long to do that before work, on Wednesday I would have been able to do that but then I did not manage to "produce" that urine sample. *rolling eyes* On Thursday, after much concentration, I was successful, came back to the practice and was told to "just put it in the fridge and we will call you back". One week later, symptoms much worse but still no call. So I went again and the doctor says he could not find my *precious* sample on the system! Turns out, the fridge is only for samples to be sent to the laboratory and not for the ones to be looked at from practice staff themselves. *more eyes rolling* So this time, I had the pleasure to do two of them in one go. The doctor gives me instructions to do a mid-stream sample. I asked him, half-grinning if he could repeat that and he said, "The first pee goes into the toilet. Then, if you can manage that, hold and then pee into the cup." I must have been positively staring and grinning widely by then because he added reassuringly, "I am sure you will do the best you can!" *lol* The other cup was for reassurance that I was not pregnant (a nurse told me that in the UK, they do that to every woman just to be on the legal safe side when they prescribe medication).

# Which reminds me that I think my mum believes I am pregnant. *lol* In the past two weeks she must have puzzled together information I gave her on the phone, namely:
1) I had a strong interest in private health insurance.
2) I told her that I considered taking a gap year.
3) I was talking to her about Kat's and mine intention to going to Paris to visit our friend Oliver. I pointed out that it might be possible to ask Oli if we could stay at his halls of residence and then as an afterthought, that we might need to ask a flatmate of his for help because in HOR, you are usually allowed one guest staying over at any time. My mum replied to that we could ask that friend of his if he was OK with moving in with Oli during the night so Kat and I can stay in one room. I broke into laughter then and told her that that I was not in elementary school anymore and that we were all adults. *lol* Poor her! Her mind must have gone riot!

Anyway, she did not say anything. Just last time I talked to her I was speaking to her about something entirely else and she, entirely randomly, asked me if I had water in my legs. I, confused, replied that no, I didn't and asked her where that came from. Only later did I remember that my mum, when she was pregnant, had swollen ankles like many other women. *shaking head* Weird...

06 August 2007

Of Strippers, Wax, Salsa & Die Berge


# I settled the affairs with the registry.

# I settled the affairs with VISA. However, not to my liking and the complaint is still due.

# I start work at SOAS tomorrow and am already excited about that. I am looking forward to working on the financial leaflet!

# Above all, I had the most awesome weekend with Lila & co! It was Clare's & Lila's housewarming party and basically a BBQ on a balcony-style rooftop (in the UK, you will find that quite often)! There are some great pictures & videos of us coming up on facebook as soon as the girls have internet again!

We had a bunch of French-speaking people among them the infamous Cyril who after downing a bottle (!) of Vodka (!!) more or less on his own (!!!) started picking a peculiar interest in the sexy cat from across the street. He shouted sth really incriminating in French which more or less translates as very dirty speech... Then he started learning Polish from the native neighbours (after 5 minutes of acquaintance for 30 minutes) who were having a party on their "balcony", too. We did not hear what kind of conversation he and the girl had but at some point he gave her his (expensive-looking) watch. He really is a lady's man! In the end, Lila, his French friend David & I waxed his leg (always been a secret fantasy of mine, to do that to a guy!). *lol* He was so mad at us! After ten minutes though, he did not know anymore who did it to him (he called the very next morning to threathen, " 'oo didd this to me? 'oo-everrr shafed my leggs, I am goeeng to cut off your 'airrr, too!!!" - he says shave because he cannot pronounce the word wax)!

Among other guests was Sam, a Chinese-looking paramedic who stopped by during his break while driving rounds in the vicinity. When I saw him coming onto the roof, heard someone saying, "Take off your jacket, you can start now" and saw him getting out of his uniform, I believed someone had ordered a stripper! As YES, this is so typically me, I probably won't have to point out that I am not kidding!

Anyway, I met some really interesting people and had great fun!

After spending the night at Clare's & Lila's place, I accompanied them to a homeless shelter to give out self-made sandwiches, something they do every seven weeks (groups take turns). I received a really interesting history lesson by a guy who turned out to be a former Genevan banker until his divorce.

The round-off was the Latin American Carneval, Carnaval Del Pueblo (Europe's largest celebration of Latin American culture) in Burgess Park, SE London. The park is really huge, maybe the Vietnamese festival that I did not see DID in fact take place when I came here... Anyway, it was HUUUGE and loads of good food! We met up with Francois, someone who was at the party the night before, too and who spent a few years in Dublin as software engineer (the recruitment story was awesome, the company that asked him to come over for the face-to-face interview paid everything for him for a week while he was in town!). He has a quite quaint accent, half French and half Irish, with the occasional exclamation "Jasuss!"in between!

We were accompanied by Désirée who is French as well and who went to Tirol lately! How crazy is that?! And on top of that, both she and Francois began to sing the Heidi song!!! It turns out, they know the Heidi comic TV series! Crazy, crazy!