An American in Dublin
From my window I can hear the staggered passings of nocturnal taxis, the occasional group of drunks and the muffled echo of a tenor singing covers at a nearby pub. Of course he is singing U2. It seems the entire city has a collective hard-on for Bono. Or is it just a front for tourists? There’s proof to support both theories.
Supporting the hard-on theory is a free map of Dublin showing the proposed site for a phallic U2 tower. Further proof finds the band the fifth richest business in Ireland, according to a “Lonely Planet” ripoff.
Yet, every native I talk to can’t stand the band.
So, yes. This is my temporary home: Dublin. I live above a convenience store painted bright red and named after the nearby monument Spire. My bed sits by the window and is one of three beds crammed into the room. There is another room by this one with another three beds. The building is old and everything smells musty, but it is kept relatively clean.
The flat has a large living room, dining room, kitchen and utility room (which houses the toilet and shower). It is an awkward setup, tedious to explain, although amusing to witness. One roommate theorizes that the building is shaped like an upside down triangle. That explains the lack of 90 degree corners in the flat.
The place is like a small-scale UN meeting in its diversity, but with more booze, laptops and twin beds. Also, there is less talk of peace and disarming North Korea than at a typical UN get-together. Hong Kong, Japan, Poland, Brasil and the USA are all represented in the flat.
Both of my Asian roommates have taken up Christian names to make it easier for westerners. I am finding it a common practice here. It would be neat to come up with my own name in some other country.
My Japanese roommate works all too many hours as a chef at a Japanese restaurant and when he comes home, he likes to drink a beer or two and watch “every sport, but Cricket.” We talk about what little attachment I have to Japan and I throw out butchered Japanese phrases — any I can remember.
My Hong Kong roommate works at an Asian grocery store and promised me I could get fifty-percent off if I came in while he was working. He offers this in a very grave and serious manner, which is hilarious. He enunciates each word, lowers his head and widens his eyes. I cannot tell whether he is intentionally being funny or not. He has only been here a month or so and laughs often at his laptop screen. He has a friend who is often at the flat (living here really) who is also from Hong Kong.
My Polish roommate wants to be an actor and is moving back to Poland very soon to be in a play. He watches many movies. By many movies, I mean a few movies over and over. The apartment only has about five DVDs, which he cycles through. In fact, he has watched “Billy Elliot” at least three times in the past two days. He considers Sylvester Stallone a great actor and likes his mumbling.
My Brazilian roommate is short, extremely outgoing and sounds like a guru with his accent. He likes to talk about women and go out to drink. He is the self-proclaimed God Father of the flat. He takes the money and keep things in chaotic order. He works in the pub below our flat. Both the pub and flat are owned by the same person.
When I first arrived, he brought me and my Hong Kong roommate to a dinner at his French friend’s flat. It was a grand time with the two friends constantly making gay jokes about their close friendship at the expense of the French guy’s Mauritian girlfriend.
Before moving to Dublin, I had never heard of Mauritius. Since living here, I have met three people from there. In case you are as ignorant as me on the subject, Mauritius is a small island off of Madagascar. The population speaks English, French and Creole. The dodo bird lived there once. That is about all I have gathered.
My last roommate is the token female of the flat. I think just about all the roommates are in love with her on a basic instinctual level. She is a pretty Brasilian who prances around the place in fairly skimpy outfits (by prudish Protestant standards). All I know about her is she sings along to Cold Play and smokes on the balcony.
I was surprised to find Dublin such an international mixing bowl. I had a misconception that is was overwhelmingly native.
In my defense, this boom in immigration has occurred only in the last decade, according to many spoken sources. It s interesting to hear professors talk about Dublin pre-2000.
To go back a bit, I arrived in Dublin on the last day of August. My mother came with me to help me find a place and get me settled in. She is a flight attendant, so she has been to Dublin, but never for more than 24 hours. We stayed at the Maldron Hotel and the next three days were spent perusing local restaurants, searching daft.ie for potential shares and stopping by a few tourist traps.
While walking, we found Dublin’s “China Town” on Parnell Street and were treated to some of the best Chinese and Korean food I have ever consumed. I at first called it China Street, a more accurate name, but was corrected by a hotel attendant who asked me if I was talking about China Town. It is much less a town than a street, but Dublin is not a very big city so maybe the scale is skewed. Virtually every restaurant on the street has a great all you can eat breakfast for 5-7 euros.
We did a traditional Irish breakfast in the hotel restaurant. The Irish breakfast is very ham oriented, so I was a little disappointed since I don’t eat pork. The black and white pudding is a little nauseating to think of concerning basic ingredients. The name is due to one of the puddings being colored with blood.
The obligatory fish and chips and pint of Guinness was handled by an overpriced pub on the main city centre vein, O’Connell Street, near where I now live.
The good eats ended when my mother (and her purse) left. I was thankful to have the jump start, though. We looked at some places while she was here, but none appealed to me completely.
After she left, I found the cheapest hostel online and stayed there for a week. It was a blur of people and names. I especially became friends with a group of French girls, a Texan attorney and an Italian lawyer who always wore suits.
The Italian lawyer was especially amusing to me. “If I cannot wear my suit, I will not go out!” he said in a Mario Brothers voice when told he was already overdressed and to just come to the bar as he was. His demands were met and the whole group waited for him to get dressed.
Two of the French girls seemed stand-offish and stereotypically snobbish at first, but we eventually became friends. They were bitchy in some of the best ways. It started with a core group of two girls, but grew to about four or five French girls toward the end of my stay at the hostel.
It is sad to watch so many people slip through your fingers, but that is the nature of the beast. An awward cliche, I know. The beast of traveling? I am sorry. I couldn’t do better at this time of night.
An Australian girl and experienced traveler told me that although going through so many people is slightly depressing, “you get used to it.”
Those temporary friends can certainly be useful later. One might be able to take advantage of them for an empty couch sometime in the future.
There is so much to catch up on. I have only made it to the beginning of October in my story, so I will take a break here. I think my life gets more eventful and amusing from here on out. Things to look forward to include pigeon murders, meeting other Americans, awkward Pulp Fiction dances and my new college burning down.