About two  years ago, on the way to my apartment at the university residences, I was approached by a woman (probably a student) who started talking to me in German. Since I did not know much German aside from the usual conversation starters and getting the check, I asked if she could speak in English. It turns out she was looking for a place to stay in and was trying to check out what the rooms of the university residences look like. She then asked if I could show her my room.

If I were back in the Philippines, I would have said no right away. Somehow, I said yes since she looked quite nice and I have bottles of beer in the room that I can use as primitive weapons (if necessary). I showed her the small kitchen, the bathroom, the bookshelves, the bed and other stuff in the room. She then asked something about the construction going on in the adjacent building. I said the place is going to be renovated soon and it is a bit noisy during the mornings but thankfully they do not work during evenings.

She then asked something about contact. Like, do I interact with the neighbors? Can you knock on the doors of other neighbors for a chat? I said that some of the people in the building are my classmates. Some neighbors may be a bit noisy, especially some of the Chinese keeping their doors open and you can hear them almost shouting in conversation. Very inconsiderate and irritating. But most of the time, as long as they do not disturb me and we do not see each other, I am ok. (I recall something from Curb Your Enthusiasm,  “I’d rather have the thieves than the neighbors – the thieves don’t impose. Thieves just want your things, neighbours want your time.”)  Some neighbors are nice but mostly neighbors knock on my door because they need something. One time, there was this woman who had a bug in her room and she was afraid of this bug. She asked if I could kill it for her. So I did. Nothing like an exterminator job.

Then, she moved to a rather invasive question: How did it feel living alone? At first, I was rather shocked by the question. It seemed too familiar for my taste and I actually have a hard time imagining someone who knows me to actually ask this question. We haven’t even exchanged names yet.

I said, no I like living alone. It keeps me sane. Besides, if I really wanted interaction, the classrooms, markets and random streetfolk are there and I can always talk a while in German language class. But I do not need it in large dose to be able to survive. Then, I told her that if she really wanted contact with other people, feel free to go to the parties. (Of course, I withheld my opinion about parties, which for me are really wasteful. If there is no buffet, no opportunity to sit down and talk to your food and friends, no decent music, what’s the point?)

She then asks if I get lonely. I said I don’t. Sure you can feel some sort of emotion akin to loneliness but it passes because there is a lot you can do by yourself. (Trust me, I know what you’re thinking.) Life goes on. Of course, with all the work and reading that you never get to do and later complain about, there is a lot of time.

She then thanked me for showing her my room and left. It is nice to have the room to myself again.