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Wednesday, March 15, 2023

My life stories - Part 20 (Balancing life and settling in)

My life Stories – Part 20 (Balancing life and settling in)
Stories from my past memories – childhood, family, friends, growing up, poverty, integrity, dreams come true, finding peace and happiness, Buddhism, Yoga, and now…

After working full time without a break for a year and dealing with the exhausting apartment hunting process, my husband needed to take a break, which is a natural cycle for everyone to be looking after the physical and mental well-being. We didn't have any particular holiday destination. The cheapest flight destination departing from Geneva that we found was Portugal, and we have never been to Portugal before. And hence, we bought the flight ticket even before we found this apartment. We wanted to fly out from Geneva because it was easier, time and energy saving, and it's closer to us than departing from Paris.

In the early morning of the day that we were leaving to Geneva, we received the long waited message from the Prefecture. After waited for 9 months, having visited the Prefecture three times and renewed our temporary residence permit twice, we were going to get our actual residence permit finally.

And so, instead of the initial plan of taking the train to Geneva in the afternoon to begin our holiday, we decided to take the train to Annecy in the morning to collect our residence permit, and then taking the train from there to Geneva.

Upon buying the train ticket at the train station in Evian-Les-Bains, we were being told that all the morning trains have been replaced by buses due to the ongoing strike in France. It's more tiring and less comfortable to travel by bus, but we didn't mind, as we totally understand the difficulty that many working class people in the world have to go through as cost of living is getting higher and higher, but salary is not keeping up with the inflation. It's 'meh' to see many down to earth honest people have to spend many hours and effort into working, but still can't make enough to support basic needs, or barely get by, not that they are big spender on needless things and activities, while most employers/business owners are being inconsiderate, greedy and stingy, hoarding wealth more than they ever need in this life time.

We were grateful that we could still take two buses to reach Annecy and that we would arrive just in time for the walk-in opening hour between 1:30 pm and 3:30 pm to collect our residence permit. The Prefecture is located within a short distance less than ten minutes walk from the train station.

There was already a long queue when we arrived at the gate of the Prefecture just before 1:30 pm, as some people were already waiting in queue as early as half an hour before the opening time. However, we all didn't have to wait too long for the entire process that went smoothly. We thankfully received our residence permit in short time, and without any expectation, the residence permit is valid for 5 years from the date of issue. We thought it would be valid only for one year. Our residence permit is free of charge because my husband is European. I can also get involve in any kind of professions legally.

All our four times experience dealing with the different officers in the Prefecture were very nice, as all the people who work there - the guards, the front desk/ticket counter receptionists and the documentation verification and processing officers were all very friendly, patient and helpful, or even humorous, without the barrier or the sense of authoritarian superiority that exists in certain countries. Such humanized governmental process makes everyone more relaxed, which makes everything easier for both parties, as there will be less unnecessary complication arise under such welcoming calmed and relaxed manner.

After that, we headed back to the train station immediately to get the next available train to Geneva. We didn't have to waste much time. The next day we were in Porto for 5 nights and then Lisbon for 4 nights. It was a nice experience, where we walked a lot exploring the town without knowing much about Portugal, and without any planned ahead itinerary or things to see and do.

We heard before about Portugal is the cheapest country in Europe, however, after visiting several random grocery store and supermarket in Porto and Lisbon to check out the prices of everyday grocery there, we found that it's not any cheaper than France, especially when the salary in Portugal is a lot lower than in France. It's not surprise that more and more people are getting unhappy and frustrated.

During the flight back to Geneva, there was quite some intense turbulence due to rough weather, but surprisingly, this body didn't get sick this time. The couple sitting behind us were "Ooh La La!" every time the flight jerked up and down suddenly, which made me giggled so much. My husband and I joked about the pilot kept reminding everyone every now and then, "Make sure your seat belt is fastened," that made the minds wondered, "Is there something serious that the pilot doesn't want to tell us?" Anyway, the plane touched down safely, and many people were clapping.

We went straight to the train station in Geneva airport to get the next connecting trains back to Evian-Les-Bains. The cashier told us that there were no connecting train to Evian-Les-Bains since more than a week ago due to the strike. We could either take two trains to Annemasse transiting in Geneva, and then see what was available in Annemasse, or we could either take a taxi from Geneva to Evian-Les-Bains, which was too expensive for us, or we could take the train to Lausanne and then taking the boat from Lausanne to Evian-Les-Bains, which was also too expensive for us, as well as we wouldn't be able to be back in Evian until the next day, which meant that my husband wouldn't be able to get some sleep before work. And so, we decided to just take the chance of going to Annemasse, and see what would be available and possible there. If we had no other options but had to take a taxi from Annemasse, we'll let it be.

When we arrived in Annemasse, we found out that actually there were still trains running towards Evian-Les-Bains, and the next available train would be departing in 15 minutes. We immediately purchased our ticket from the machine and went straight to the platform. As soon as we came out from the train station in Evian-Les-Bains, a bus that could get us to somewhere closer to our apartment up the hill was already there. Usually, we would walk up the hill from the train station to our apartment, but since it was raining and we had been travelling for many hours, and the bus was there available to us, we just hopped onto the bus without hesitation. And the bus driver was very kind, where he dropped us closer to our apartment instead of at the bus stop that was further away because it was raining quite heavily.

Because we managed to get home before 8:30 pm, it meant that I could run the washing machine to wash the accumulated laundry. I learnt that it's prohibited to run the washing machine between 10:00 pm and 6:00 am (certain apartments until 8:00 am) in France unless we live in a detached house, which I agree with. Most apartment buildings here are not very soundproofed. In the last apartment, the agent told us that we were not allowed to shower or do any kind of washing between 10:00 pm and 6:00 am. That was ridiculous. Even though my husband told me that some people don't care about rules and regulations here in France, while it's not so much about obeying rules and regulations blindly, but out of freewill, I don't want to run the noisy washing machine after 10.00 pm which may cause disturbance to our neighbours, unless it's an exceptionally quiet washing machine. Many of our neighbours are hardworking people who go out to work in the day for many hours including spending time in commuting between home and work place, and they need to have good rest during the night. Some people leave home before 6:30 am and come home after 8:30 pm.

After we moved to this homely apartment and received our residence permit, we are finally settling in. Thank you.

All is impermanent, while being in the present moment.

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About Yoga

Know thyself. Everything is impermanent and selfless. There is no 'I'. There is no 'I am selfless'/'I am not selfless'. There is no 'I am hurt'/'I need to be healed from hurt'. Non-blind believing, non-blind following, non-blind practicing and non-blind propagating, but be open-minded to inquire the truth of everything. Be free. Be peaceful. Be happy.

About Meng Foong

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