Edinburgh Airbnb Host Raghu 

 

愛丁堡又找不到Couch Surfing Host,又逼着住airbnb,唉,真係喊都無謂。

 

這個airbnb Host叫Raghua,是印度人,他在airbnb網站無個人圖片,直至見面才知他是一位印度男子,他在愛丁堡半工讀,長遠希望移民英國;他在airbnb網頁說過客人得睡客廳,直至開門入屋才知Raghua本人也睡在客廳,屋內甚至憑空多了一位白人男護士房友,這些都是Raghua在airbnb網頁從無提過的,Raghua無說謊,只是取巧地無提及。

 

 

Raghua在早上會給客人煎蛋,不另收費,但來自印度的他,在蛋上灑了很多奇特香料,我一嗅已咳嗽打噴嚏,眼淚鼻涕直流,但礙於他的拳拳盛意,我唯有硬着頭皮啃蛋……

 

最特別的是,Raghua家無梳化、無餐桌、無椅子,開餐時Raghua席地而坐,在地板舖一張報紙,放上碟子,就開吃了,當時我真的嚇傻了眼,呆立當場,不懂反應。

在我的經驗中,席地進食只會出現在非日常的、特別的場合,例如戶外野餐(草地或沙灘);我從來沒想過在日常的家中需席地進食。

我的經驗是,在家中進食最好坐在餐桌前,否則也該坐在椅子或梳化上,坐在地上進食會被認為是「不禮貌」。

當Raghua將碟子放在地上,我腦中閃進放在地上的狗糧、紀錄片中的原始部落席地進食的情況,我有一毫秒的懷疑:Raghua在侮辱我嗎?

但當Raghua施施然坐在地板,滋味地吃着他的煎蛋,我就明白,席地而食真的是身為印度人的他的日常習慣,身在英國,卻以印度風俗席地而食,真是有趣的文化體驗啊。

 

這次經驗也令我察覺到,自己無意識地遵守着一套飲食規則,原來「進食的地方」有「合乎禮貌(在家中的餐桌旁進食)與不合乎禮貌(在家中席地進食)」的分別,在Raghua家只是「進食的地方」(在家中席地進食)與我以往經驗(在家中的餐桌旁進食)不同,已令我吃驚呆立,原來進食不是簡單事,不,也許進食本是簡單事,只是被人類搞得複雜了。

 

 

Raghua家周圍無餐廳,我問他可否在家煮食,他同意;又問他可否用洗衣機,他亦同意,但到最後一日,他說:「我通常都不讓客人用廚房、洗衣機,我都讓你用了,又不另收費,都仁至義盡啦。」

 

潛台詞是:請你快點離開。

 

我的下一站是葡萄牙首都里斯本,飛機在愛丁堡的起飛時間是凌晨五時,Raghua希望我在當日黃昏離開,他聲稱當晚已有下一位客人,我需離開,以便他打掃收拾,於是我得在愛丁堡機場過夜了。

 

 

我真的很不習慣airbnb Host的想法,airbnb Host接待客人,擺明想賺錢,客人是誰不重要,最緊要有錢交租,airbnb Host雖不至巧立名目濫收費,但也必事事錙銖計較;Couch Surfing Host接待客人,完全不為錢,真心為了解異地文化,肯花時間了解客人,真的能從陌生人變成朋友;而airbnb Host,不由陌生人變為仇人,已是萬幸。

 

 

不過禍福相依,否極泰來,最令人失望的環境往往偶遇貴人,而在Raghua的攞命屋,我的貴人竟然是那位憑空出現的白人男護士房友,其實我連他的名字也不知道,只知道他每日都早出晚歸。

 

由於我在進行Project the Host Project,我問Raghua能不能讓我畫他,他說:「我好忙,無時間比你畫。」

我忙說:「您不用望住我架,你只管做您自己的事,不用理會我的!」

Raghua勉為其難地同意:「好啦,咁你畫啦……」

 

Raghua在家中會穿印度式裙褲,畫在紙上一睇就知他是印度人,很能突出他的出身;他以床為椅,以小几為桌,全屋幾乎無傢俱;他身後的床墊往地一放,就是雙人床,加上我的單人床墊,他家就能容納三位客人,真的用盡每一寸空間。

 

雖然我與Raghua的相處很不愉快,但我很滿意這幅畫(上圖),這是我第一次畫人物+背景,效果相當好,選取適當的背景更能突出人物的故事個性;我也特地拉高天花板,將人物壓在牆角,表達Raghua的攞命屋真的好窄……

 

這幅畫好像畫了近兩小時,Raghua一直專心電腦,動作不大容易畫,我們相處有點僵,無話可說,反令我能專心畫畫。

 

 

就在我差不多畫完時,房友回家了,他一開門見到畫具全舖地上,無地方讓落腳,我正席地畫畫,Raghua則一派悠然的打電腦,那種非日常景像令他嚇到整個人後退一步,臉露驚訝之色;我每次見到他,他都像戴了一個鐵面具般全無表情,當時是我第一次看見他的「驚訝」表情,他說:「你們在做什麼呀?」

我說:「在畫畫啊~」

他面露「感興趣」的表情,我即時打蛇隨棍上,問:「可以畫你嗎?」

他又有點「驚訝」,但竟露出了「笑容」同意:「好呀。」

 

 

房友一人佔了一間房,第一晚他緊閉房門,完全零交流;第二晚他見我在畫畫,好奇地半開房門,觀察着我畫Raghua的情況;第三晚他終於把房門打開,我坐在走廊,畫窩在床上讀書的他。

 

這幅畫(下圖)也差不多畫了近兩小時,房友非常專心讀書,動作不大,容易畫,他非常默訥,幾乎沒說話,他是我整個旅程中,唯一連名字也不知道、唯一無影相的模特。在這幅畫中,我特別拉高了樓底,長長的天花壓着小小的人,想突出城市人的孤獨、疏離感;也特地畫了「房門全開」,紀念我這個「人類觀察員」。

 

 

我在愛丁堡不算愉快,天氣濕冷,永遠天陰,在Raghua家又住得抑壓,明明零交流,卻晚晚要聽他扯鼻鼾(屋子真的太細了);其實房友真的很平常地對忽然出現的畫感到好奇,不過房友對畫的些微感趣,是我在灰暗愛丁堡的一絲和熙陽光;由被Raghua隱瞞的房友,到不聞不問的零交流,因為畫而破冰,到微笑支持,藝術真的無國界,我很高興畫畫可以打破隔膜,令人感到淡淡温流。

 

 

在愛丁堡的最後一晚,由於被Raghua趕走了,得在機場捱個通宵,原以為很難捱,怎知山窮水盡疑無路,柳暗花明又一村:)

 

深夜的愛丁堡機場很安靜,只有十多人在候機室,大家或躺在地上,或坐在椅上小睡;我躲進Costa Café,霸了一角梳化連餐桌,拿出畫具,準備畫畫(不過Costa Café整晚都播着輕音樂,挺吵……)。

 

那是我第一次在機場過夜等飛機,當時我是挺興奮的,憑着這股氣勢,一口氣畫了兩張人類最終進化的畫(心花怒放血花),夜闌人靜果然好氣氛,最令人感動的是,在Costa Café又遇貴人!

 

當時有一位侍應走過來,我正擔心又要被趕走,因為我一個人霸了四個座位、兩張餐桌來畫畫,靚仔侍應對我說:「你在畫畫啊?」

我答:「是。」

他露齒而笑,說:「我從意大利來,從前我也想做畫家,後來放棄了,你要加油啊!」

我呆了一下,沒料到他不是趕我走,而是鼓勵我,我說:「謝謝……請問這裏收幾點?」

他笑說:「我們整晚都開,你慢慢畫。」然後他收起旁邊的空紙杯,就走開了。

 

在愛丁堡偶遇的兩位貴人,都不知其名,但畫連繫了人的緣份,在灰暗沉鬱的愛丁堡,這點點暖意真的滲入心脾,令人感動啊~

 

 

人生真的好奇妙,最鬱悶的旅程,竟畫到最多靚畫;遇上最令人壓抑的冤家,卻同時碰見最棒的模特,生命永遠都充滿驚喜呢~!

 

 

 

I can’t find any Couch Surfing Hosts in Edinburgh again. I had to stay with airbnb again. Sigh. Poor me…

 

The airbnb Host in Edinburgh is Raghua. I knew Raghua is an Indian guy when we first met in Edinburgh because he didn’t have any photos on Airbnb. He was studying and working in Edinburgh and hope to migrate to UK in the future.

He said guests have to sleep in the living room on the airbnb webpage but he never said that he HIMSELF would sleep in the living room too. Raghua even FORGOT to mention that he had a white male nurse roommate in the apartment.

Raghua never lied but he just KEPT FORGETTING to mention things.

 

Raghua would make fried eggs for guests for breakfast for free. He put lots of weird spices on the eggs and I was coughing and sneezing straightaway. I had to force myself to swallow the weird-spiced-eggs…

 

 

The most interesting thing is, no sofa, no tables, no chairs in Raghua’s home. He would just put a piece of newspaper on the floor, put the plate on the newspaper, sit on the floor and eat.

I was really speechless and didn’t know how to react.

It must be a special, non-daily occasion such as picnic (on grass or on sand-beach) that people would have to sit on the floor and eat. I never thought of sitting on the floor and eat at home.

For what I had been taught in Hong Kong, it’s best to sit on a chair with table while eating or at least sit on a chair or a sofa. It was NOT PROPER to sit on the floor and eat at home from my experience.

Putting dog’s food on the floor, primitive tribe in forest was sitting on the mud floor and eat. These images flashed into my brain when Raghua put the plate on the floor.

I doubted for one second, ‘Is he insulting me?’

I knew it was really a normal habit for an Indian like him to sit on the floor and eat when I saw Raghua sitting on the floor slowly and eating his spiced fried eggs deliciously. It’s really an interesting cultural shock.

I found myself submit to an eating rule unconsciously. A place to eat had a different between decent (to eat with table and chair at home) and indecent (sit on the floor and eat at home).

I stunned when Raghua put the plate on the floor just because I was not eating in a proper ‘decent’ place as I always did.

Eating is not a simple thing indeed. No, maybe eating is simple, just human made it complicated.

 

 

No restaurants near Raghua’s place. I asked if I could cook at his home. He agreed. I asked if I could use the washing machine. He agreed.

He said to me in the last day of my staying, ‘I don’t usually let people use the kitchen and the washing machine. I let you use them for free. I was kind to you,’

 

What he REALLY said is: Please leave.

 

 

My next stop was Lisbon, capital of Portugal. My flight to Lisbon departed in Edinburgh at 5AM. Raghua hope I could leave before dark so he can clean the apartment for the next guest which he claimed was on his/her way already.

So I have to spend a night in Edinburgh airport.

 

 

I really couldn’t get use to airbnb. Hosts on airbnb host guests because they want money. It didn’t matter who the guests were as long as they could pay the rent. Although airbnb Hosts didn’t charge guests on weird terms but they put a great emphasis on money.

Couch Surfing Hosts host guests not for money but for a curiosity about foreign culture. CS hosts are more willing to spend time to talk to guests and would become friends from strangers easily.

It is a great luck for not turn to enemy from stranger for airbnb Host.

 

 

Good luck and bad luck always twist together. The most unexpected friends always meet in the most disappointed circumstance.

The most unexpected friend in Raghua’s crazy place was that unexpected white male nurse who I didn’t even know his name. I just knew he left early and return home late everyday.

 

I asked Raghua if he could be a model for me as I was doing the Project the Host Project.

Raghua said, ‘I am busy. I don’t have time for you to draw,’

I said quickly, ‘You don’t have to look at me. You just have to do your stuff and pretend I am not here!’

Raghua said reluctantly, ‘OK, you draw…’

 

Raghua wore an Indian trousers at home. It is easy to tell he’s an Indian in the picture. Not much furniture at home as he used bed as chair and a little table to put his computer. It was a bed for 2 guests if the mattress behind him were put on the floor. His place could host up to 3 guests plus my signal person mattress. Every inch in his apartment was surely not been wasted.

 

Although I did not get well with Raghua but I really satisfied with this picture. I tried to add a background in the picture for the first time and it turned out fine.

I higher the ceiling and pressed the character to wall to indicate that was a really small apartment…

 

I thought I drew for nearly 2 hours (the above picture). It was easy to draw Raghua because he was very concentrate on his computer and didn’t move much. We didn’t talk much because we had nothing to talk and it was even better for me because I could concentrate on drawing.

 

 

The roommate returned home as I nearly finished the picture. He opened the door and saw all my drawing tools scattered around the floor and had no room for him to step in. I was sitting on the floor and drawing. Raghua was peacefully sitting on his bed typing on his computer. He stunned and took a step back because of this non-daily special view. He looked SHOCKED.

He was like wearing an iron mask with no facial expression every time I saw him. That was the first time I saw some human emotion shown on his face.

He said, ‘What are you doing?’

I answered, ‘I am drawing ~’

INTERESTING was shown on his face. I asked him immediate, ‘Do you want to be a model?’

He SHOCKED again but he SMILED and agreed, ‘OK,’

 

 

He owned a room. He shut his room door completely and zero connect on the first night. He curiously half-opened the door and observed the drawing on the second night. He finally fully opened the door and I sat on the corridor to draw him reading on bed on the third night.

 

This picture took me nearly 2 hours (The picture below). He was easy to draw because he was concentrate on his reading and didn’t move a lot. He was the only model who I didn’t even knew his name or took any photos.

I higher the ceiling in the picture. A long ceiling pressed on a small figure. I want to show his loneliness and solitude in city. And I added a full-open door to memory a ‘human observer’ as I were.

 

 

I didn’t have a happy stay in Edinburgh. The weather was wet and cold and forever cloudy.

I was depressed in Raghua’s place. I had to listen to his snore every night (the place was really too small) even we had zero communication as strangers.

The roommate just showing his normal curious to my suddenly-appear-drawing but it really was a warm sunshine in the grey sad Edinburgh.

From a roommate that Raghua had to hide, to zero conversation, to ice-melting because of drawing and to smiling supporting. Art really had no boundary. I am glad that drawing could help me breaking ice and found support.

 

 

Because I was threw out from the apartment by Raghua in the last night in Edinburgh so I have to spend the night in the airport. I thought it would be tough but I was lucky to meet another unexpected friend in the airport:)

 

It was quiet at night in Edinburgh airport. Around 10 people were staying in the waiting room. They were lying on the floor or sitting on the chair for a nap.

I hide myself in Costa Café. I own a corner sofa with tables and took out my drawing tools and started to draw (But the light jazz music in Costa Café was quite noisy…)

 

That was my first time to spend a night for a plane in an airport. Actually I was quite excited. I drew Blood Slash and Thousand flowers blossom from the heart from the Final Evolution of Humans with this excitement.

Quiet night was always best to draw. And to my most luck, I met another unexpected friend in Costa Café!

 

A handsome waiter came to me. I was afraid that I was going to be kicked out again because I own 4 seats and 2 tables to draw.

The handsome waiter said to me, ‘Are you drawing?’

I said, ‘Yes,’

He smiled and said, ‘I came from Italy. I want to be a painter too but I gave up. You have to keep on!’

I was stunned. He was not going to kick me out but he encouraged me!

I asked, ‘Thanks…When do you close here?’

He smiled, ‘We opened all night. You can take your time to draw,’ he collected the empty coffee cup and leave.

 

 

I have met two most unexpected friend in Edinburgh who I didn’t know their names.

Drawing really connected people.

I was so glad I met them in the grey Edinburgh!

 

 

Life is intriguing. I drew most satisfied pictures in the saddest trip; I met the best model and the most dreadful host at the same time.  Life is always full of surprises~!

到愛丁堡了Arrive in Edinburgh
On Ryan Air
機內in the plane
咁瞓法,唉weird sleep...
食唔到...can't eat...
煮煮煮coooooook
在地上食!eat on floor!
製作中...making of...
製作中...making of...
Show More
搞掂finish
至少有幅畫at least i had the picture
製作中...making of...
喪屍機場Zombie airport
晨光第一線,好靚呀!beautiful sun rise!
咁都賣廣告AD again....
好詳盡so detail
去里斯本!To Lisbon!
Show More