Hot, sticky, dark and, when I finally found the light switch, surprisingly big. These were my first jet lagged impressions of the flat late last Tuesday night. Our new home. Flat 308, The Arts Centre, Mantin, Malaysia. That was the moment it sunk in. This is real.
Having first decided to emigrate in February, August’s move to Malaysia always felt like a far off theoretical concept. It loomed somewhere in the distance, to be dealt with at a later date. “London living” seemed to be more immediate, predictable and important. My cycle to work, the ten o’clock banana, lunch break, three o’clock tea and the rush for the office door at the earliest socially acceptable time; this was the rhythm of my life. Malaysia was always well after a work deadline, a birthday, a weekend away or wedding planning. There was always something more immediate until, on 1 August there wasn’t, my new nephew was born and then the only red letter day was the flight.
After being dropped of at the flat we made vague attempts unpack and make the place look presentable. Neither of us knew what to do or where to start. That night I slept restlessly in two chunks, my body not being able to process the loss of seven hours and my mind wondering what I had got myself in for. The white washed walls looked empty and alien and I was reminded of similarly sterile walls and miserable evenings in Accra. This was not home. Even Lucy next to me did not seem the same Lucy I was talking to in London. Somehow, everything that was once firm and solid seemed to shift.
Opening the curtains in the morning, we had our first glance at the outside world, a turquoise blue swimming pool and tennis courts sandwiched between playing fields. Behind our accommodation block is the school itself, an array of long colonial style blocks linked by covered by pan tile walkways. Perhaps on reflection, there are certainly worse places to end up. Certainly a little different to my living arrangements in Ghana.
The school at the moment is very quiet, only being populated by administrative staff, the new teachers and senior management. It is hard to imagine what it will be like when 700 hundred boarders turn up this Sunday. I think we are all looking forward to their arrival so life can take on some form of routine. That said, the gradual introduction to school and Malaysia has been most welcome. We have been given the opportunity to explore the school ourselves, use the array of sporting facilities and get to know the local area. Little by little what was alien is starting to become more familiar. Thanks to the arrival of our shipping from the UK, and various forays into Kuala Lumpur, Tesco and Ikea, the flat now feels like home. We have also seemed to have settled into a good social scene, with a number of friendly faces only too ready to invite you out for dinner.
As you will see from the photos below the grounds are gorgeous, if a little quiet.