FAQ items aan het laden...

(note from elmine: this is a piece of fiction, quickly written, hardly edited and written in my second language; please be kind :-) )

A visit to the supermarket

Nobody thinks about the way one visits a supermarket, right? It’s just something you do, several days a week, to get some food and other stuff like toilet paper. You go to the closest supermarket, you walk in, grab your stuff, pay and walk out again. Well, this is not how you visit a supermarket on Pangheya. There are three brands you can choose to get your groceries. In the documentation the university sent me they recommended BI. No further explanation given, but as I had to start somewhere, I visited the BI closest to me, a five minute walk.

Once I got there I noticed a young girl wearing a BI uniform outside, cleaning all the shopping carts. I asked her why she was doing this. It’s just part of our excellent service, she replied, to prevent spreading disease. I know for a fact that her service is redundant, as previous researchers discovered Pangheya is free of any viral and bacterial infections that can cause disease in humans. I asked the girl how long she’s been doing this. She’s had this job for three years now. It pays her way through college. She took over from her sister, who took over from her niece. She is nineteenth generation cart cleaner, can you believe it? I have never heard a young woman speak so enthusiastically about a simple job like cleaning shopping carts. She confided in me that she and her predecessors formed a group. They meet every month and once a year they go hiking in the mountains together for three days. They call themselves the secret shopping society. I couldn’t help but smile while she disclosed this information to me. If I can get people to talk this easily, my job here will be easy.

After I thanked the young woman for the lovely chat I walked into the supermarket, but she came running after me with a shopping cart. Here, she said, you’re not allowed in without one. So together with my shopping cart I went further inside. I had to pass an automatic fence and after a sharp beep the tiny screen on the shopping cart handle went on. It showed I had zero items in my cart. Every time I put something in my cart, the screen would update the list of what’s in it. Quite a fancy system.

The whole supermarket is designed as a one way route. The aisles are not wide enough for two shopping carts passing each other, so when you have someone in front of you searching for something, you just have to wait. That’s why my stress levels rose quickly while shopping. As a first timer in a supermarket on Pangheya I had to read all packages to find the stuff I wanted. I couldn’t blindly grab a pack of something, otherwise I would end up buying pasta instead of rice for instance. As this is a meatless society, there are a lot of products I don’t recognize. Therefore I had to read a lot of packages I and caused others behind me to wait. They al waited patiently, but still I could feel them microvibrating frustration. I felt hurried and as a result I ended up with a mixture of groceries that requires improvisation skills to make it a meal.

Once I passed all the aisles I entered the payment section. Basically it’s an area with scanners that communicate with the shopping cart to charge the amount of the items in it. You then swipe your mobile at the scanner (I needed to install the local bank app for that) and that’s how you pay. Of course I forgot to bring shopping bags, but luckily an employee saw me struggling to hold everything in my arms and gave me a BI branded bag. She told me she recognized me from the local newspaper. Apparently the newspaper announced me as a new resident in Balsse, picture included. That makes sense for a community that hardly allows outsiders on the island. It also explains why so far nobody seemed to be surprised to see someone here they hadn’t before, breaking all the rules.

Once back in my home I unloaded the bag and started journaling my supermarket experience in my tiny home office. Within half an hour I gathered a lot of information on Pangheyans.

Door |2020-05-25T16:12:03+02:0025 mei 2020|Stories from Pangheya|0 Reacties

Let the adventure begin!

I’m out! I’m about! This morning I got checked for a last time. Body temperature was OK, a new sample of blood was tested (no need for an isolation suit this time) and came out OK as well so the employee who took the tests gave me clearance to leave the premises. I now have a nice stamp on my visitor pass to show to officials I have every right to be here.

After receiving my stamp, I was allowed to gather my stuff. It only took an hour and a half to get to Ballse, my hometown for the coming months. Finally I was able to see some of Pangheya from the car. The roads looked as if they’d been repaved last week, the sides of the road were filled with flowers in red, white and purple. Sheep grazing in the hills almost looked surprised to see a car passing by.

When approaching the city of Ballse the layout of the roads grabbed my attention. I’ve read about the extensive use of bikes on Pangheya, but I didn’t realize how the entire lay-out of the streets was designed for both bicyclists and pedestrians. Throughout the entire town. I’ve seen many people out and about, walking and biking too. I felt relieved to see so many of them actually. After two weeks of seeing only three people and not a hint of the existence of more other than these three, one could start to believe there was no-one else. In the coming days I can make up for my lack of social interaction, as my new home is very close to the city center.

The rest of the afternoon I got myself familiar with my new house. The driver was so kind to pick up to key for me before he drove to Porta Coron. He told me that’s the Pangheyan way of doing things. As the university is on the other side of town, it would be a waste to have to make the detour and back whereas his home is situated only a kilometer from the university. I thanked him wholeheartedly when he handed me the key before driving off.

The house is nothing fancy, but it has everything I need. A seating area, a kitchen with oven and microwave, a very modern shower room and a bedroom with a big bed. It’s all made of wood, with a light-blue colour on the outside. My daughter would have called it Elsa-blue when she was in that phase. It’s somewhat bigger than what we would call a tiny home back home, but as far as I can see it is pretty standard sized in Pangheyan terms. At the back of the garden is a small shed with a top to bottom window facing the garden. It’s the office space, just big enough to house a desk and chair. The garden looks very well maintained, by the way. It is filled with plants and many flowers are already blossoming.

After I unpacked my belongings and stored away my suitcase I took a long shower. I needed that. As the university provided me with fresh food in the fridge I didn’t have to worry about shopping for food just yet. I cooked myself a lovely meal, had a glass of wine and curled up into my new bed. I took some bedcovers with me, to make me feel a little bit more at home and at ease. No matter how experienced I got in life, there is always this hint of home-sickness at the beginning of any journey I take. My own bedcovers, with the smell of my own detergent, help me to sleep better the first few days.

Time to sign off for now. Looking forward to start exploring tomorrow.

Door |2020-05-01T20:20:20+02:0024 april 2020|Stories from Pangheya|0 Reacties

Facts about Pangheya

  • Pangheya is an island;
  • Pangheya is about 270.000 square metres big;
  • In the North there are mountains, up to 3200 metres high;
  • The South has a coastline of about 523 kilometers with sandy beaches;
  • There are eleven cities: Lowerd, Snitch, Dryl, Sled, Stare, Hylp, Work, Ballse, Harn, Frencher and Dock;
  • There are about 17 million people living on Pangheya;
  • Each city has about half a million inhabitants;
  • The rest lives in smaller villages of various sizes;
  • Visitors are not allowed, except with special permission from the government.

Tomorrow I’ll be finally able to leave this quarantine hotel and get to know Pangheya beyond the facts. I can’t wait.

Door |2020-05-01T15:21:55+02:0022 april 2020|Stories from Pangheya|0 Reacties

Almost there

I remember clearly one of my last days at the office. I made one phone call after another to get all the paperwork done, tell colleagues what to do in my absence and give instructions to my daughter how to take care of my home, the cats and the garden. Two weeks of non-communication looked like heaven. Two weeks of not being bothered about forgotten signatures, impossible logins in government systems, tracing relevant documents. The thought of two weeks of quarantine, being just bothered by my own thoughts, not that of others, kept me pushing forward to get it done.

Reality is, I’ve had it with being alone. For a few days already. Ones own thoughts become very boring very quickly when there is very little input from the outside world. What made matters worse is that the internet connection failed completely since my last update, so all I had was me, myself and my books.

I’ve taken weeks off work before, gone on holidays alone. Not speaking to anyone else for days at end happened to me before, but the psychological effect of not being allowed to go where you like adds a whole different dimension to solitude. Not being to able to find a café to enjoy a coffee and listen to other people talk. Not being able to get in a car to just drive somewhere, anywhere, and enjoy the change of scenery. This is not a vacation. I’m a prisoner on house arrest. And I’m not even in my own house. It may only last two weeks, but time seems to stretch the room, sometimes enlarging it, but mostly tightening it.

Anyway. All is well enough, though. Just observing myself and noticing the mindfuck this situation actually is. The internet is now finally fixed. I could even upload some of my doodles now, but I decided not to. For now. Now that the end of solitude is near, I can focus on preparing for my research again. I’ll share some facts on Pangheya tomorrow, in case you’re too lazy to search for it online.

Door |2020-04-21T17:11:47+02:0021 april 2020|Stories from Pangheya|0 Reacties

Halfway there

I’m halfway my two weeks of quarantine. With limited connection to the outside world (the internet is still not fixed) I’m starting to get bored. So much I started keeping track of the most mundane stuff. For instance, I measured the size of my room in this building. Fourteen feet wide, seventeen feet small. My foot size is very average. It’s a small room. Luckily I am allowed to go into the garden. It measures 25 feet wide and 63 feet long. Though that is an estimation since the garden is filled with flowers and a few trees, so walking a straight line is impossible.

I drank forty-nine mugs of tea. Yesterday they delivered a big box of tea bags, as they could see how quickly I was using up all tea bags on stock. The air here is very dry so I constantly feel the need to hydrate. On the other hand, I drank only fourteen cups of coffee. Two a day. If I drink too much of it, I can’t sleep at night.

I exercised twice. I know I should be doing more, but I lack the courage. I finished reading three books. A thousand and twenty-four pages in total. I stopped reading Infinite Jest. It’s just not my cup of tea. Apparently one can read a lot when living a distraction free life.

I’ve had four small interactions with the care taker. She is the one making sure I get to eat. Twenty meals in total so far. She is an excellent cook. I’ve seen her pick herbs and vegetables from the garden. All meatless meals by the way. Something I had to get used to, but is starting to feel normal now. Pangies don’t eat animals, so it’s part of living here anyway. I hope the care taker will teach me a few recipes before I start living on my own.

I also picked up drawing. I really suck at it, but only through practice one can get better. It is a pleasant variation on studying literature and reading fiction. I’ll share something when the connection allows me to.

Anyway, that’s is for now from a bored researcher.

Door |2020-04-16T15:24:53+02:0016 april 2020|Stories from Pangheya|0 Reacties

Not ready for slow life yet.

Two nights in, twelve to go. Nothing much is happening. Slept in this morning. A rare treat after the hectic months before leaving home. I started reading Infinite Jest. If not now, then when. Although I must admit my mind kept wandering while reading. It feels very weird to be here without being allowed to explore and start to settle. The uni rented a small home for me, but I’m not allowed to self-quarantine there. Instead they keep track of my every movement. As soon as I leave the premises, they’ll arrest me. I understand why and two weeks isn’t too long, but being here all alone feels uncomfortable. So far the web connection fails most of the time. I can write offline and use the small bandwidth for uploading my text, but that’s about it. Calls don’t come through. I asked for assistance, but they don’t seem eager to fix the problem.

Perhaps it’s a mandatory deprivation of connectedness to prepare visitors for slow Pangheyan life. At least that’s what I’ve read on other researchers’ blogs. I devoured Life on Pangheya: small and slow on day one of its publication. Voider wrote such funny anecdotes about her interaction with people here that I was laughing out loud, disturbing the concentration of my colleagues. That story about her getting annoyed with all those people politely waiting for her in their cars when she wanted to cross the street, a hundred meters away.

For now I haven’t reached that stage of accepting slower life. I feel restless and useless. Twelve more days. I should be able to handle that.

Door |2020-04-16T15:26:00+02:0012 april 2020|Stories from Pangheya|0 Reacties
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