At an age when my peers are driving nice cars, making a dent in their mortgages and raising families in front of widescreen HD TVs I’m sat typing in bed in a three by four metre room. It is the only room in my current home.
The two small windows are shuttered shut and have remained that way for almost two weeks. The shutters are painted green with a brown border matching the door. Beyond each is a mosquito net which may or may not do their jobs effectively. It is difficult to tell because the open to the elements 16 by one and a half inch gap above the non functioning air conditioning unit renders the mosquito nets redundant.
Small black marks on the wall, some made by me, are testament to this inadequacy as the squashed body found under my shoe is evidence of another insect invader.
There is a wardrobe on top of which are placed two bottles of beer, the only flat surface other than the floor and a small bedside cabinet but that has been colonised by my girlfriend who is sleeping in a single bed pushed up against mine. Yes, this small space is shared with another.
There’s a rush mat above the two single beds, a smudged mirror on the wall and, to our left, a door to a grotty bathroom. There is a foot deep gap above and below the door affording poor privacy and when it rained two nights ago the roof leaked rainwater onto the bed, the electricity failed and the water in the bathroom stopped working.
Through the walls I can hear the neighbours coughing and talking softly in a multitude of languages as they begin their morning.
We rent our home by the day and though we will soon move on it will be replaced by another similar sized, similar fitted room of varying cleanliness and charm.
It would be easy to feel like a failure living in a room like this were it not for the door through the cracks of which I can see the shapes of our neighbours and fellow backpackers.
Were I to get up now and walk through that door I could sit in a courtyard in warm northern hemisphere January sunshine. In a couple of minutes I could be swimming in the Red Sea.