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Starting the Future

December 31st, 2011 by admin

On a soggy, southerly-blasted New Year’s Eve, Wazzer, and more of Ram’s acquaintances than he was expecting, are packed into Ram’s apartment. They came to have a yarn with their mate. They came because the poor weather made their own porches and verandas a bad idea. And they came to have a peek inside of one of Wellington’s most dubious and disliked apartment buildings.

It’s one of the new ones, and if it’s the future, Wellington doesn’t like it much. It’s been sneered at from the outset for having an Auckland property developer’s number on the “Coming Soon” billboard two years ago. It’s garnered the dislike of the neighborhood for blocking views and clogging the streets with new “Resident Parking” vehicles. The residents themselves are ambivalent about it. Ram’s neighbors feel cramped and light-blasted inside the small white boxes of their rooms. But if you want two affordable bedrooms in a central location,built to the latest earthquake standards, it is, for the moment, the only game in town.

Wazzer peers at the glossy fittings with interest. “Just move right in and it’s all set up? Kinda sweet!”

Ram is, noisily, hauling a barbecue onto his tiny balcony. “I suppose. Don’t know what to make of it, really. My ex and I renovated our house, and by the time we were done, we split up. She bought it off me and I got a good deal on this place. Seemed like a good idea at the time and my boy has his own room. But I come home and there’s nothing that needs doing, you know?” Wazzer gets a glimpse of the cupboard that held the barbecue; rusty boxes and new plastic cases, overflowing with a lifetime’s worth of tools, all poignantly un-required here.

The scene on the balcony is more evidence that perhaps Wellington lives don’t fit into neat urban boxes. The wee barbecue is now belching smoke against the building’s white facade. “The neighbors won’t complain?” Wazzer asks.

Ram hands her a bottle of lager. “They’re all here. All up for a sausage,” he chuckles. “Cheers for the new year?” He holds his bottle up, ready to click it against hers.

She takes a quick glance at the flat, full of well-meaning professionals and semi-professionals, choosing all the compromises to be in the heart of Wellington.Very different, she thinks. And about time, too. “Cheers, mate.”



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