"Off to the south! The main thing is not 'de schäl Sick' ( this is how the people of Cologne describe everything on the right bank of the Rhine and this is the wrong side). I wondered how easy it is to get a cheap student dormitory in Cologne if you have a relationship," I thought as I struggled through the city traffic.
"200,- €uronen rental that would be fantastic. I could sell my Töff Töff and get a student ticket at the KVB, which would save me a lot of money. I hope it doesn't come with a horse's hoof!"
I was sitting at Kamps while I waited for Pete to come and buy me a cappuccino. The optimist needed from Duisburg to Cologne, of course, half an hour more than planned. So what the heck, he came around the corner. He was waving to me from afar. Was he thinking I was gonna run away now?
"Hello, Caro! Sorry, I'm late..."
"Come down! For Cologne conditions you are over punctual", I laughed at him.
" Well, well!" he said and smiled back and my knees became a little soft.
"Ready to go? I got it all figured out. We are already expected," he said urgently.
"Sure, let's go!" I replied. As we arrived at the location, we found a typical 70s apartment block. It was freshly painted and as we stepped through the front door, a tiptop renovated stairwell was waiting for us. The first impression was okay. Concierge was written above the door.
"I guess this is the place," Pete said and rang the bell.
"Yes, please!" a female voice sounded from the intercom.
"Pete Lagerfeld. We have a..." A discreet click admonished us to enter. We were welcomed by a very well furnished reception room.
"Please be patient for a moment! Mister Ahmadi will welcome you in a moment" it sounded from a loudspeaker. We sat down and I grabbed a flyer. I was reading about brotherhood and its social commitments. The house was a female student house with eight apartments on each floor, a canteen, and two bathrooms, therefore the presence of men was prohibited in that area. Visitors could only be welcomed on the ground floor, in the cafeteria. The administrator used to live here too.
"I don't like the prohibition to receive men," I said.
"Would you like to meet strange men in the bathroom?" he asked back and strangely I suddenly felt ashamed for my objection and shook my head in surprise. A man, elegantly dressed, entered the room.
"I sincerely hope you didn't have to wait too long. My name is Ahmadi. I am the project manager here or just the janitor, if you like," he introduced himself. You' re sure Mr. Lagerfeld and your companion?"
"Caroline Lichter! It is a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Ahmadi," I said and reached out my hand to him. He nodded nicely but refused to give me his hand.
"Pleased to meet you, Miss Lichter! I would ask you not to regard it as a discourtesy, but as special respect for you if I do not shake hands with you." When a woman came in, only her face and hands weren't completely covered.
"This is my wife Basima. While she' s showing you around, we men are waiting for you in the cafeteria." She smiled at me and beckoned to follow her. We drove to the third floor. She showed me the kitchen and the bathrooms. Everything was bright and friendly. And then she opened my future apartment for me. I was overwhelmed. For 200,- €uronen I had expected a small bedroom and study. It was a dream of 50 sqm room + built-in wardrobes + balcony + + +.
" Basima, tell me this is all for 200€? Is that true?" I asked her.
"Yes! If you don't mind, the women among us have been friends. Well, men are strictly forbidden here. If you violate this, it will lead to immediate cancellation. Furthermore, each woman has cleaning duty once a week and has to serve in the cafeteria. But because everything is always rented out and you share the ministry with all the women, it is just a piece of cake. And are you interested?"
"Well, of course, I'm interested! I can't wait to move in," I said.
"Well, you'll talk to my husband about everything else. Welcome, dearest sister," she said, taking me in her arms and rubbing my forehead with her veiled head. At first, I was completely taken by surprise, yet then I found it very pleasant - feminine in a way.
We rushed downstairs. While I followed her, I admired her veils blowing around her. It looked pretty somehow.
"Well? What did you think?" Pete asked me.
"Fantastic! Where can I sign?" was my answer.
"Slow down with the young horses, Miss Lichter! I will add you to the list and you will have 3 months to settle your affairs, how to look for new tenants, and so on," Ahmadi said.
"Well, I will take charge of that, if I may. When would the next possible move-in date be?" Pete asked.
Immediately! If Miss Lichter moves directly in, we will not charge her the rent for another two months," he said.
"But I'm still tied to my old place for three months," I said. Pete replied:
"I took the liberty of clarifying things with your landlord first. He was thrilled that I was able to offer him a new tenant who would pay an extra €100. You can sign the lease right now. You can't get rid of what you've got, can you?"
He was right, I signed.