Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Home is where the heart is

Eight lessons learned from not having a homebase

Hotelroom in Ubud, Indonesia
Last year was quite a turbulent year. After living in Indonesia for 18 months, I took off for Vietnam and Malaysia. Since August I have been in Amsterdam (and one month in Jakarta), warmly welcomed by the hospitality of my awesome friends and family. Through the seven places that I've inhibited in the past six months, I got to know my hosts a whole lot better. In case, you were considering to live in between houses for a while, I thought I'd share some of the things I learned along the way.

Esther and Anthony's house in Jakarta

Jakarta living room

1. My friends are Green
They are a lot greener than me, that's for sure. Most are really trying to keep their ecological footprints small by using environmental friendly cleaning products and separating their trash (not just at the Greenpeace household). Thumbs up, girls!

2. In Amsterdam, the East is the place to be
However grateful I am to my friends in Ijburg and Tuindorp, nothing compares to the booming Indische buurt. It's a vibrant mixed neighborhood, where can buy anything from baklava and humus, to ecological fairtrade coffee from Peru and spices for cooking up an Indonesian meal. And I have to admit: maybe part of the charm also lies in the fact that all streets are names after Indonesian islands or cities.

3. It's all about the vibe
I do not need a home that has my name on the door as long as I can feel at home somewhere else. Be it a big and funky place (like the one in Ijburg) or a small and cosy apartment in the city, what matters is that the place is decorated with love. 

My mom's spiritual table
There's always space for more guests at my mom's dining table

4. Music makes my world go round
There should always be a cable for playing my music on the speakers. The first thing I did in most places was to plug my computer onto the stereo and play some of my music. Doing a little dance, without a doubt, makes me settle in straight away.

Apartment number 7

5. A good bag makes the difference 
When living this way, it's necessary to have a sturdy bag. Since I am dragging my suitcase around, I have started appreciating it even more. The Tatoinka stroller/backpack I bought five years a go still serves me well. 

6. Cats make for great companions
The cats in my life deserve yet another separate blogpost, but I will just mention here that I have loved living with Persil, Bagus and Ries.

Persil and me
Bagus and Ries
7. Cleaning is something you can excell in
When you live this way, moving from one place to another, you end up cleaning a lot. I have scrubbed many a kitchen lately. The least I could do is leave the places I lived it cleaner than ever!

8. Home is where the heart is
Thank you, dear hosts, for providing me with great places to stay!

Where are my belongings, you may wonder. Well, they are in my mom's basement...

Thank you, mommy, for storing my stuff!