My new apartment


I was sitting in my new apartment, and after going through the usual process of where I was going to put the couch, and where I was going to hang freshly laundered sheets, I received what could be described as my first serious thought in the new place – a reminder that these were not the most important issues at this time of my life. And perhaps it was not surprising that I also thought of the two words that now dominate my mind at all times of the day: “long-term” and “business”.

It was at that point I came up with the question of whether the issue of repatriation should necessarily be bundled with the issue of long-term income – that is, just because I’m talking about long-term income, does that necessarily mean I have to go back to South Africa? After I stubbed out my cigarette on a wet piece of toilet paper, I answered the question as follows: Considerations about going back to South Africa must include considering long-term income in South Africa. These two things are intertwined because I cannot go back to South Africa without ways of ensuring a long-term income.


Sensitive to not boring anyone with long reports, I just want to say that I reminded myself it’s not about how much money I take back to South Africa anymore. It is about how prepared I am to be a businessman; to start earning money in South African currency as soon as possible after I walked out of a Spar with my first bottle of garlic sauce and I realised the notes that had disappeared from my wallet would not be replaced within a month with Taiwanese money.


I’m working hard these days on ideas through which I can transform myself from an amateur philosopher and poet into a hard-boiled capitalist. I remain convinced that BUSINESS is the answer to my search for creative independence, and the key to a more meaningful life.

I would also like at some point to replace my current roles and identities … or rather, to upgrade to the role and associated identity of Family Man. And I’d be able to do it so much better, according to my own principles and beliefs, if I can achieve financial independence without having to call another man or woman “Boss”. (By the way, a note to all my working comrades in the so-called Real World: Don’t be deceived by the contemporary trend in corporate culture where workers are allowed to call their bosses by their first names. It’s a trick! He – or she – is still your BOSS!)

So, BUSINESS continues – especially now that I’m no longer plagued on a daily basis by the four-year-olds from my recently vacated job as a kindergarten teacher, and likewise my plans to return home early next year.

There is, however, the interesting question I asked myself this afternoon: Does it necessarily mean that I should go back to South Africa if I can launch business projects here in Taiwan that guarantee long-term income? There is also the open question of the impact the new apartment will have on my mind and on my experience of Taiwan.

“New apartment?” you might be wondering by now.

Yes, it is true that I am going to pack my boxes and bags over the next three weeks and strip my pictures, posters and calendars off the walls. I also plan to wrap in newspaper the framed piece of calligraphy that has been hanging in my current apartment for years, and to load that together with the suitcases and boxes, my washing machine, my bed and my bicycle into a taxi on the 27th of September.

The destination will however not be the airport, as my own mythology has always prophesied, but another apartment, deep in the Taiwanese area of the city (very few white faces, or foreigners of any other colour dare live so far from a 7-Eleven or a McDonald’s).

The reason for the sudden change of view I will enjoy from my dresser is that the owner of my current apartment suddenly decided the dark structure in which I’ve been sheltering the past almost five years somehow qualifies to be sold on the open market.

Thus, the end of my life in Lane 55 Number 15 is officially coming to a close. And this time it’s not just my own whimsical and implausible predictions that I will roll up my bedding and start walking. It is really happening.

Maybe it will be a good test run. Maybe I won’t even unpack my boxes in the new apartment. Maybe I’ll just throw my mattress on the living room floor, and from sheer wilfulness wash in the kitchen. Maybe I will make myself deliberately so miserable that I’ll be fleeing the country before the end of the year.

But wait a minute … If I sleep in the living room and cook soup in the spare room on a gas stove, I will likely forget to shave, too. Which means I will start looking so bad that I will probably be asked not to show my face at work anymore. Which means I can spend all day between crumpled bedding on my mattress writing poetry! I’ll eat beans from a can while watching the sun go down – in the distance, where other people live who also sometimes talk of going home. Then, when the sun has set, I will pull my fingers through my bushy beard, put the empty can on the windowsill with all the other empty cans, and in the half-light feel around for my box of green tea on the living room floor.

So many houses, so many stories. So much time, so many possibilities. So many dreams, so much hope. So much that I will never achieve. So much beauty in life that can only be viewed from afar.