Thursday, 28 November 2013

A home to call our own

Moving to a different country can be difficult at the best of times, but when that country is so totally different in every aspect from what you are accustomed, even with the best will in the world, it can be very difficult making all the adjustments necessary. Yet, I can honestly say that I never once thought of going back – it just wasn’t an option. I just knew that somehow there was a better life to be had here…. if we could just find a home of our own.  Soon after buying our first car, my husband visited his Mum and she told him that a car was all well and good, but that ‘Evelyn won’t feel at home here until she has her own home’. Finding one seemed easier said than done.  We had decided, even before we left England, that we wanted to buy a house that was already built and finished as we didn’t have the patience to buy a plot of land and build our own house.

At first we depended on "word of mouth"- a most inefficient way of finding a property, if ever there was one. I remember one day my husband brought me some sweets wrapped in a twist of newspaper, and as I happily chewed away I idly read the snippet of newspaper and saw that it contained advertisements for estate agents and houses for sale.  I asked my husband to ask his family about this newly acquired information and he was told that they knew all about them but that estate agents were an expensive way of acquiring a house as they often took such a high price for finding a home. Sitting at home and waiting for people to come and recommend homes to us wasn’t getting us anywhere and so, against all advice, we started trawling the estate agents some of whom were rip off merchants its true, but some were really good and helpful. You wouldn't BELIEVE some of the places we saw - from huge monstrosities of homes with 3/4 kitchens and the same number of bathrooms to holes in the ground (literally). Some homes looked as if the rooms were added on as and when they could afford to build them - without any planning whatsoever! And as for the requested view of the sea: So many of the places we went to see did indeed have a sea view - if you hung off the balcony by the tips of your fingers, twisted your neck to an un-natural angle and screwed up your eyes you could just about make out a patch of blue in the far distance between an apartment block and a clump of trees!!

I wanted to live by the sea (if you’ve read any other posts on my blog and seen my pictures, I think you might come to realize what a penchant I have for water of any kind…. sea, river, stream, pond, waterfall, you name it), I wanted to live in a good Muslim area, I wanted privacy and walls around the house and space within those walls for my children to play, but most of all I wanted a home for us all to grow together as a family and to grow closer to Allah.   My husband wanted a Mosque within walking distance.  Was that so much?  After several months I got the distinct impression that people thought it was and that I was too particular. My husband’s nephew told us of the man who came to him to suggest a home for us, and when the nephew asked him if there was a garden, the man told him that there wasn’t one, at which the nephew told him that it wasn’t what we were looking for as we wanted a garden.  ‘But what about the children?’ asked the man incredulously. This puzzled me as I thought to myself ‘but the garden is for the children!’  Then my husband explained that the man’s outlook was based on having a house as spacious as possible so that when the sons grew up they could marry and have the space to bring their wives to live with them. This is one of the many times when I saw the gaping hole that appeared every so often between me and Algerians based on our different upbringing and life experiences.  Holes are good though….honest!

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