Korpys/Löffler : »Spindy Concept for Co-operative Living«, 1998
by Sigrid Sternebeck
We hunted for and found the apartment with one over-riding criterion in mind: security. We had to be sure, when we rented an apartment that a variety of people could flow in and out of the house unobtrusively, without being noticed. Neighborly anonymity was imperative. Points 2 and 3 on our checklist were: prime transport links and the apartment's direct surroundings. We had to be certain nobody could see through the windows.Everything spoke in favor of a high-rise or large block of flats. These offered optimal conditions.
The desires and expectations one normally harbors when searching for an apartment - such as the wish to feel at home, have a nice garden, a balcony or pleasant neighbors - none of them applied. The term 'desires' was replaced by 'functionality'. Under the heading of 'functional' came, for example, high-rise buildings with several elevators. To whom could you allocate a flat in such a building? A nasty surprise awaited us when we went to view one. House entrances were fitted with video cameras - a novelty in those days - »to guard inhabitants from terrorist attacks« in the words of the agent. Thank for nothing!
The entrance hall behind the door of the apartment had to elude a serious air. Coat-rack, mirror, floor rugs, an umbrella and a small painting or poster for that personal touch - and ready it was.
Most important in making the apartment appear inhabited by normal tenants: sheer curtains and drapes. These are the ultimate symbol to the outside world that the apartment is inhabited by decent members of the community - because of the white net curtains. The improvisation of illegal life did not stop with the curtains. They were not sewn but stapled down the sides and later, as a further development, they were glued. This was faster and looked better. We did not care if they were durable or washable - the apartment would only be used for a short time.
The classic living room area complete with coffee table, armchairs and shelves was practical and would be able to withstand a visit by the landlord should he/she come to check up on things. Stackable mattresses and a duvet and covers were added and could be used as a bed or with cushions, as a sofa. The well-camouflaged bedroom for multiple users was ready to go. Especially recommended for one-room apartments.
It was a great idea to rent a furnished apartment. We saved ourselves all the above-mentioned furnishing work and shuffled the furniture around as we wished. Desk and working areas were set up and an expensive floor rug rolled in. Curtains had to be reinforced as you could see through them.
It was also great to work in a perfectly outfitted kitchen. Illegal inhabitants also want to cook for themselves sometimes.
Once we had moved into the apartment, the owner said she'd like to pay a quick visit. She wanted to be sure that her apartment and its furnishings were in good hands. We were obliged to return the apartment to its original condition within two days! We moved things around, cleaned, renovated. A number of suspicious objects had to be removed from the storage room. The whole darkroom was packed up again. We also had to install a fiancee in place of the absent tenant.
The day of the owner's visit approached, we had everything rearranged, when the telephone rang: the landlady had been prevented from coming as the roads were too icy! We never heard from her again.
HO CHI MINH
There were certain dangers inherent in illegal life. A sparsely-furnished, old apartment had an irritating, creaky, wooden floor. Officially, there were only supposed to be up to two people 'living' there, but as more were always present, it was difficult to move around in the apartment. Under no circumstances did we want the other tenants to notice us. It was hard to avoid going to the kitchen or toilet, what could we do? Wooden floorboards as we know do not all creak the same. Thanks to our sedulous efforts, creeping around the apartment, we eventually found our very own almost noiseless and very personal Ho Chi Minh trail!
[Translated from German by Jeremy Gaines]
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