Friday, August 20, 2004

Please help! I need some advice. Seriously. It's a housing situation. Better yet, do any readers of this blog want, or know somebody who wants, my Zizkov flat?

In September 2002, I signed a two-year lease on this rather large flat. The contract says it's 110 m2 but it seems much bigger. It's two levels with a spiral staircase going upstairs to the office, bedroom and a bathroom with a bathtub. It's on the top floor of the building, with high ceilings and skylights letting on to a nice view of the TV tower (I'm not being ironic there, I really do like the TV tower). The lower level is open plan, loft-style, with a decent kitchen and a balcony with a view of Parukarka hill. It is, simply put, the best flat I've ever lived in, and probably the best flat I'll have lived in for some time to come. The rent is a reasonable CZK 20,000 (plus utilities) which my girlfriend and I have split between us.

Alas, all good things must come to an end, and my girlfriend was just accepted into graduate school in Dublin. The school notified her very late, and she'll have to leave come October 1. I can't afford to stay in this apartment on my own. I'm a bit sad about the whole situation, but life goes on.

The lease on the apartment calls for a three-month notice period, but the two-year lease runs out at the end of this month, so I'm technically not obliged to pay even another month's rent. I could leave immediately, just as the landlord could technically throw me out Sept. 1 without any notice. They've been very good landlords and I don't want to screw them over in any way.

With most things related to the flat, I've always dealt with the landlord's son, who's about my age and speaks perfect English. So I tried to call him to feel out the situation, but I didn't hear back, and finally sent him an SMS telling him I had to leave the flat, and would it be OK if I stayed one month past the lease period -- which, remember, ends August 31. He finally wrote back saying he was in Italy and we could discuss it when he comes back on the August 25-26.

So I began flat shopping with two friends. Well, it turns out the friends want to move sooner than Oct. 1. In fact, they want to move Sept. 1, or almost immediately. And now it looks like we've found the flat we want. It's quite good, and it looks likely we'll sign for it on Monday.

So now I'm thinking, damn, here I was worried about not giving enough notice leaving Oct. 1. Now I have to go back to them and tell them I'm leaving Sept. 1?

So I asked the advice of the very nice real estate agent (yes they do exist) who found us this flat (The agency is Identity, by the way -- highly recommended.) He said it really shouldn't be a problem, that I should just notify them that I'm outta here at the end of this month. He reassured me that I've been a good tenant and the market is hot so it will be easy to find somebody for the flat.

I wrote again to Jakub, the landlord's son, apologizing for disturbing his vacation and telling I had to leave sooner than expected, and offering to help find a new tenant. He wrote back (this is verbatim): "Hi,yes please,beSOkindandFindSomebody!becauseOtherwise ThereAre2monthsThatYouWouldHaveToPay.i'll call you when i'm back.probab.on25.letMeKnowIFyouHAVEsomebody."

Now of course I could tell them to go screw themselves -- the lease is up, and nobody made any other arrangements on either side, therefore say-yo-nara, and don't ask me again for two months rent because you ain't gotta git it. But that would not be a nice way to end things.

I don't want to talk the flat up too much -- it does have rather drab carpeting, no hardwood floors, and it has the feel of 1970's basement rec room, complete with an electronic dartboard. But I've lived here for eight years, and as flats in Prague go, I think it's great. There's a UPC internet connection, so it's perfect for anybody who works from home. The office upstairs could conceivably be used as a second bedroom.

Any takers? Rent is CZK 20,000, and it's available Sept. 1, or shortly thereafter. Write to me at scott-ZAVINAC(that's the @ sign, foolio)-tulipcafe-DOT-cz.
My column on Slate, on the U.S. troops withdrawals from Europe. My favorite piece on this subject is, alas, behind a subscription wall on the FT's site. It's the one that mentions Picts and Saxons.

Well, actually I do have one little quibble with that FT article: "Emperor Honorius's decision to withdraw his Roman legions from Britain in 410 AD ... is a distinctly dim historical memory."

Distinctly dim? Clearly fuzzy? Softly booming?
I return to Fistful of Euros finally.
Dude, the gloves are totally off. This article in today's New York Times seems like quite the bombshell, so to speak.

I guess it could get better. I guess John Kerry could turn to George Bush during the debate and say, "Mr. President, have you ever killed a man? I mean killed a man yourself, shot him and then watched him die?"

Thursday, August 19, 2004

I have not, in fact, been reading any of my favorite blogs lately -- nor blogging, though I plan to resume both -- so I actually missed this post, which enumerates a few more theories explaining the "outing" of Turncoat Khan. (Read the post two posts down and the exchange in the comments section for the background on this, if you don't know what I'm talking about.) Thank you, NicMoc.
Why I do believe that's the Imam Ali Mosque I see down there.