The Big Move

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The following days are spent in utter state of exhaustion. I am going to school in the morning and working full day. After school, time is spent in cleaning, scrubbing, sanding, painting the room.

I swallow my pride and ask for help. Luke is a constant presence at my side. He is there when Mel comes over to help me clean the room.

Mel is worried about my decision to live here. In her opinion working in the school is all right. The area around the school is safe enough during daytime. But to actually live smack bang in the Red Light District is bit dangerous. I use Luke's innocent presence to convince her.

Finally she throws her hand in exasperation and says "Alice I know how you are. Once you make up your mind you are like a rock".

Dear Mel the sister of my heart how I am going to miss her.

Saturday arrives damp and miserable which perfectly matches my mood. Mel has flown to her new home city late last night. We both cried buckets when saying good bye. I know we will always be close and meet each other as often as possible. But our relationship dynamics is going to change. Mel will have a husband, a house, may be kids down the track. Pete and Mel both are only children. Their dream is to have a big family. I am truly alone for the first time in my life.

I will be moving in my new place today. We have already sold, disposed or moved most of my stuff. There are just my clothes, my laptop and few other knickknacks.

I carry my bag down the flight of stairs. Alex is waiting to give me a ride. I readily accept the help offered.

I meet so many people that I am mixing all their names. I am trying to remember each one with their profession.

There is huge variety of individuals here. They come from different parts of world and speak so many languages. Some are born in this country but most of them are from poorer or war torn parts of the world. I meet people from China, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Vietnam, Yugoslavia, Serbia, Czech Republic, Kosovo, Azerbaijan, Bosnia, Iran, Iraq and Lebanon. Distant parts of the world I have never even heard of. Some of them can barely understand or speak English. Most of them can't read, write or do proper math.

I meet working girls, strippers and exotic dancers. I even meet some boys who are "in the trade if you know what I mean". Some of them are very young and look barely legal.

They all are very curious about me and ask me lot of questions. Some girls and boys who understand English act as my interpreter. I answer them as much as possible. They are reluctant to talk about themselves.

I am jokingly offered the best night of my life free of charge. I laugh it off hoping it is a joke. However the Boys and even some girls look quite serious. I get asked whether my taste runs in men or women or I am quite flexible. I ignore the question and move on.

There is close knit community here. There are fights and territory disputes. Often the disputes are dealt in harsh manner.They also come together to help and protect a person of the community from outsiders. They are like a giant family, with their own set of laws and regulation and their own code of honour.

I also find out about what I suspect to be shady characters. Madams, pimps, pickpockets, crack dealers. I am warned to avoid them on the pain of death. I am warned again; again never in any circumstance go alone at the night time.

There is one woman's name mentioned under the list of people to avoid. Sally, who goes by street name of Sharon. Unfortunately I don't know how Sally or Sharon looks like. I guess I will find out soon enough.

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