I am at loss for a better title, or even an intellectual post, it’s that time of the month again, and the mutant rabid monster took over my nice girl frame. Mood swing, crappiness, the same old same old.
My mood didn’t get any help from the weather, as we’ve spent the entire weekend under a non-stop rain, that dragged into Monday as well, everything became damp, musty soggy and the concrete jungle visible from my windows felt that much more claustrophobic than usual. The feeling of being caged in kicked in as well.
So much so that today with some sun episodes and no rain felt like a beacon to just GET OUT, we live not to far from a nice commercial area, so dead set on not mopping about inside and spending another day feeding the hormones with some acerbic rants about my condition, life, the weather, the air, the noise and the universe, I got into my favourite pair of shorts, and off I went.
There is nothing like a good bookstore to make me feel better, and luckily my lit cravings can be satisfied without travelling too far, so there we went. Ishita is pretty much at home in these stores too (can you tell we shop for books a lot). Her Doradar kicked immediately and she got dead set on a Dora drawing kit, impossible to divert her to anything more age appropriate, and funny enough got attracted silly by a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse DVD as well, refusing to let go of it and running straight to the check out counter to dump it the like saying “Too late mom, we are taking it”. Not that I have anything wrong against it, as I’d rather have her watch DVDs than be submitted to these ridiculous commercial breaks on any of the cartoon channels. Then we walked around a little as not only the weather was nice but the area is great (I’ll have to write about it once), we then ended up going to a coffee shop for a snack, and then to a stationary shop to get an Artist’s canvas so I could start a new painting.
It wasn’t exactly a long outing but this was enough to just get a breath of air, a change of scenery and boost my mood a little (though of course the chocolate pastry at the coffee shop might have contributed to that too).
Another good sign, is that my wanting to wander out of the home and not sleep away the day actually means I have reached the last phase of the relocation drama recovery: exploring the new territory in order to settle down emotionally (and I’ll really have to write about where we live one day…there is some history there).
All in all, things are looking up for now, the caged in feeling is kept at bay, now all I need is some time to get creative, on canvas and on keyboard…or notepad since I made peace with my little black book already.
Despite seeing the ad on Facebook for quite sometime I never really paid any attention to it, simply because 7.5 years in India had me become suspicious of online shopping. Ridiculous it might seem, I was the queen of online and mail in order shopping back home, even ordering clothes that way. But as DH pointed online shopping is hard to trust in India, you still have a lot of bogus stores, and if you visit the website mouthshut.com, you get a lot of negative reviews on even some of the oldest like rediff shopping, with people complaining about broken goods, fake goods, second hand passed as brand new…not something that would lead to people trusting the concept.
But back to First Cry shall we? Right before we moved DH pointed out that maybe we could find a way to order diapers in bulk to save money (and yes our daughter isn’t potty trained, and showing no sign of readiness or interest), that lead him to Google something about diapers and find the link to First Cry among others. What eventually lead us to order on First Cry was the fact the diapers there were 15% off the MRP which was the most significant discount we found, then of course we looked for reviews about the online shopping site to see if they were reliable, and it seemed to be the case.
Shipping is free if your order is above 1000 rupees, so we ordered 2 packs of diapers, and teats for Ishita’s bottle, all that on Tuesday night (after business hours), we were promptly informed that our order would be backed and shipped within 24 hours and a email containing the courrier tracking ID would be sent to us as soon as the order would be shipped.
The tracking ID mail was sent to us the next morning at around 10am…barely 12 hours after our out of business hour order. I estimated the goods would take about a day and a half or two day to reach me, but the next day at 11am the delivery guy was announcing himself at the security checkpoint in my building.
Everything was nicely packaged, nothing was missing, or reached damaged, and along with my tax invoice came a voucher to avail an additional 15% off on soft toys valid until September end, not that I might necessarily use that one, but I like the idea of receiving vouchers for more discounts with an order.
Now aside the obvious “Why didn’t we think of it sooner?” my other question is “Why this site wasn’t even existing 2.5 years ago?” When I was pregnant and trying to figure out what baby gear was available at what price in India, back then I did a lot of online research that lead nowhere, and i am sure I would have remembered First Cry if it existed back then, but it seems to be an extremely new company.
A company I can definitely recommend to all new mothers out there, they stock up all major brands in diapers, feeding solution, baby care, toys and gear, as well as clothes and shoes.
I can remember all too well my new mom rush to buy essentials I forgot to buy after Ishi was born, and always finding myself out of diapers rushing to the store to get more, sleep deprived, puffy and on a deadline between two baby feeding session. The idea of ordering something online and getting it at your doorstep 2 days later is a very appealing anytime, even more when you are a new parent, discount or no discount.
Once upon a time, a fridge, was, well just a fridge, purely utilitarian, functional, sturdy, a bit blocky and rather plain, with wire shelves and a robe of white, grey or silver. The fanciest had a separate door on top to host the freezer section, and an egg rack and butter compartment in the refrigerator. The only freebie was one or two supremely basic white ice cube trays, the type you had to twist in your hand or bang on the kitchen counter in order to get a few rocks for your drink.
That is what I grew up with in Switzerland, and that’s what DH and I got when we settled down in Chennai 7 years ago. That very same fridge still sits in our home today, after numerous relocation trips, and accusing signs of age, while still working fine I might add, though we had to save its life with a timer transplant 2 years ago after it failed us and we almost left it for dead, and the only harm it came to since then was during our Navi Mumbai to Bangalore shift, when for a mysterious reason one front foot broke and went missing between the two homes. An injury we tried to to mend with a crafty prosthetic, namely a good old steel thali bowl that happened to be just the right height. That wasn’t a perfect solution though as the fridge would often slip off it’s artificial limb and been thrown off balance in the process, with us screaming at each other for help to get it back steady.
For crazy reasons we are yet to explain the prosthetic foot doesn’t fit as well in our new Mumbai home, and now our elderly cooling unit adopted a backward tilt that doesn’t look too healthy, with its front portion higher than its rear, glitch which ends up trapping us each time we open the door as it will close back on us during a simple milk retrieval procedure.
Truth be told, we could have called the LG people in February when we first faced the problem, they would have brought a new leg, and our fridge would have probably looked more happy on a genuine leg, but we were already plotting to sent it to its last resting place and trade it for a younger model. A plan that got side-tracked due to the lack of money stability, but we started eyeing fridges out and comparing them last October.
The reason behind our plan was fairly simple; see when we bought our fridge in 2004, we were young, starting in life, and had limited funds, a fridge with a freezer compartment with a total capacity of 240 litres was sufficient and did fit our budget, we had a good vegetable market in our street, supermarkets were in their infancy stage still and all was well. over the years and a few moves later, we had access to a less good vegetable market, supermarkets started offering more, and we found ourselves starting our now routine weekly grocery shopping trip, stocking up on everything from juice to veggies passing by cheese and meat product. So much so our tiny fridge started to be a bit tight. One weekly supermarket mission was all it took for us to get to play a 3D game of Tetris back home, cramming the fridge full, arranging boxes and juice cartons in the best way possible to maximise the space available, and the real challenge inevitably came when it was time to take something out of the said fridge, turning 3D Tetris into a Mikado game, you know the good old game of wooden picks you need to remove from the pile without making the other move? Yes taking the cheese out without triggering an avalanche of fresh produce was becoming a must acquire skill, there is nothing more irritating than having to clean a the result of a dahi pot crash, and of course the vegetable tray had it so bad that each time we wanted a tomato we had many bags of curry leaves coriander and greens to remove first and then find something limp and vaguely orange that might have been a healthy carrot in a past life, but ended up being forgotten under a pile of greens. Forget storing a watermelon in there, not much else would fit beside it, the time for a change came in Navi Mumbai when the only day left for grocery operations was Sunday and the exasperation of playing 3D Tetris became strong.
In Bangalore we not only had no money, we were also very fortunate to live in an area where there was many store in a walk able distance, so much so I didn’t have the need to stock up as much as before, but with a toddler with a growing food requirement, we are now 3 people eating and needing the fridge…
So much so, we decided to restart our quest for a bigger refrigerator, and I say restart, because it seems that in the world of appliances the items go out of fashion and production as fast as in the garment industry. With many of the models we saw last October apparently having gone obsolete, the good side of the change however are lower prices.
And the pinnacle of fridge fashion seem to be side by side refrigerator, judging by the many models available in every brands. They are big, glossy, swanky, smart with embellishment such as golden handles, flower patterns, and boast features such as water dispensers and ice cube makers, with some models even having an intelligent ice maker allowing you to get the exact number and size of rocks to top your drink, some wine racks inside the fridge, and possibly a mini-bar, and a huge freezer compartment.
Oh yes! they look the part, they are imposing and the most basic model could be yours for around 50, unless you have over one lakh to spend on one with a minibar option.
But of course there is a catch, these behemoth take a tremendous amount of kitchen space that many older apartment in the country do not have, and with their swanky little water/ice dispenser, they need to be plugged to a main source of water, making keeping the unit in your living room a bit silly if you don’t happen to have tapped water there.
DH and I live in a newer building which has a kitchen big enough for a small one of these new kitchen supermodels, but the second factor to consider if you want to be practical is the capacity of the fridge, and how that total litre capacity is divided between the freezer and the fridge. And for a 500+ litres capacity, these have a surprisingly small fridge section, as a fair amount of the gross capacity goes to the freezer side. Nothing wrong with it, except that India hasn’t a big frozen good culture yet, prompting both DH and I to wonder where was the use of such a big freezer, he’s thought is that maybe an expat might find it more useful, but I pointed to him that I was an expat, and used to using freezers for a lot of stuff, and I couldn't;t see the use for such a thing here in India. there aren’t such massive promotion on meat that would prompt me to stock up when it is cheap, there are no frozen dinner for lazy days, and there is just a limit of how much bread, cakes and muffins I can bake for storage, or how many packs of French fries I need in a year to make such a freezer fully rentable, while urban dwellers in India are slowly shifting to a weekly shopping trip, a lot of people in Europe are used to the monthly whole sale hypermart trips to restock their pantry and freezer with their monthly salary food allowance, what makes sense in one place doesn’t necessarily applies to the rest of the world.
Yet if you believe advertisement, and medias, India should not live without these super fridges and they seem to be pushed into your face regardless which home appliances outlet you shop at.
Our need for practicality had us play deaf and blind to sales pitches and prominent display of these fashionable things, going deeper in the maze of cooling units to find one that met our apparently not so IT crowd requirements: at least 350 preferably higher gross capacity, a fridge/freezer ration strongly in favour of the fridge, no fancy schmancy shelves destined to hold only one type of good as we need some flexibility in our storage solution (meaning wine racks are stupid enough in our book).
Turns out that if you found the size of a side by side interesting before opening it, you have the option to find a classic 2 doors unit which has the fridge at the bottom and the smaller freezer on top like the units of yesteryears, but is as wide as their swanky fashionable counterpart. Meaning you get more space in your refrigerator section and get to have a freezer big enough to hold the usual frozen stuff fare you find around without having you feel obligated to fill it more with stuff you might not need. Some have a water dispenser too, that will operate while manually filling a tank instead of hooking it to the tap.
In the end this is that type of unit we selected, 500 litres, no frills shelves giving us the freedom of space management, and as an added bonus, yes ours has a water dispenser, not that it was one on of specific requirement, but we aren’t going to complain about it.
The said fridge will be delivered to us during the week, and we are now officially set for the decade to come, unless we expand our little family to something huge which is unlikely going to be the case. Fashion and style statement not being our thing at all, that fridge will probably be with us until it reaches its natural life end, who cares if in in 10 years from now they will come with models serving fresh smooties and ice cream wonders?
Or in our case, we have moved so many times we just are loosing our stamina, as I mention in my “wall” post, this move really took the toll out of us, I sense a much longer recovery period this time, and one week into it, I am pretty much falling in the vegetative state that I’m tempted to label “post-shifting trauma”.
This time around as mentioned previously (and good to know I still have my memory working…to some extent), the packers and movers took a bit more time to pack our stuff and relocate them, as of Thursday the 11th they still had no idea about whether they would make it to Mumbai on Saturday the 13th or not and told us it would be more likely that they would arrive on the 14th, which was a Sunday, and a day prohibited by our new apartment society for trucks to unload goods, and the packers and movers added that they would not come on the 1th as it is a public holiday, that Thursday DH and I dreaded the strong possibility of 3 more days in the suitcases, but made plans to stay at a friend’s place in Navi Mumbai as urban camping was really starting to wear thin on all of us, Ishita being the first to protest about it the minute the inflatable mats got air in them.
On the 12th, we headed to the airport after 3 nights of uncomfortable sleep, but at least that part of the routine we knew, checking jasmine as excess luggage, killing time in the airport, catching a pet friendly cab service in Mumbai, been there done that and got the t-shirt! This time however we arrived to the airport a bit later, on an empty stomach, and since flying Jet Lite had to eat before boarding to avoid being charged a ridiculous amount for a meal on board. DH argued we had little time as we finally got through security about 40 minutes before take off time, and I told him that it would take about 10 minutes to buy food, and swallow it down anyway. So we sat down, ate, and to prove me right, boarding started a bit late.
We reached Mumbai under a “light” rain, and the humidity took us as soon as we stepped of the plane. And since we didn’t get any word from the packers and movers we told the flat owner in the morning we wouldn’t be coming on Friday itself to our new home, and told the cab driver to head for the NRI complex in Navi Mumbai (and I swore 6 months back not to set a foot in that place ever again….right!), It’s while stuck in traffic, that DH’s phone rang at around 3.30pm with the packers and movers announcing proudly that they would make it to Mumbai by 9am on Saturday. And of course Dh tried right away to get the key for our new place from the owner, who informed us rightly that it was a bit late in the day to change our mind, and that no he could at the most come by 11am the next morning, so off to navi Mumbai we continue heading, not really happy about how we got informed about the whereabouts of our belongings so late in the day, as our friend in Navi Mumbai isn’t hot about dogs and miss Jasmine had to be checked into a kennel for at least 1 day. Then to add to our misery, it started pouring down cats and dogs on the last stretch of our cab right, Ishita got really tired of the whole transit business and became whiny, and the kennel announced they would not take jasmine until 7-8pm! If the packers and movers did warn us a bit earlier we would be in our own place, problem solved, but nope, no chance!
Driving through Vashi I started feeling the same gloom feeling of claustrophobia that haunted me for 7 months, remembering why I hated it so much, and seeing the NRI complex again didn’t feel good at all, unlike other places there was no nostalgia there, not even I microgram of it, the positive is that at least our sentence would be short as we would be in a cab by the next morning. In our friend’s place which we had for ourselves, DH tied jasmine in the hallway to minimise trouble, while we got to wait for the kennel to accept her, and I attended to Ishi’s crankiness while trying to suppress my own, the prospect of spending one more night in my icky jammies in a icky humid place generally doesn’t do any good lifting your mood, especially when you are tired, temporarily without a home, and tired to subside on take out food and maggi noodles (the part Ishita actually found exiting). It’s pretty much dead beat that I crashed on a too hard mattress that night, trying to comfort Ishita who once again didn’t like the sudden change in sleeping arrangement and fussed for ages, draining whatever patience was miraculously left in me in the process.
I was up at 7am the next morning dragged out of bed by my daughter who simply had it with sleep and the hard bed and tried to wait as patiently as possible for our departure at 9 am-ish via taxi. Took the wise decision to purchase a few drinking water bottle for our new place and some crackers we called breakfast, and by 9.30 we were packed and loading our stuff in a taxi, who put all our giant suitcases on the roof of the car, but without a plastic cover, DH questioned it, and pointed out the obvious: “It might rain” for the guy to assure us that most certainly it will not rain at all today, on other circumstances I would have welcomed the optimism, but with the sky being grey as slate during the monsoon season, in Mumbai, you can’t just make statements like that one without jinxing yourself big time, so I just slide into the back seat and start praying that our guy would be right, as our suitcases aren’t super waterproof and a downpour in the like of the one that showered us the day before would leave our stuff soaked and possibly some delicate stuff ruined.
And sure as hell, we didn’t even made it to the Vashi toll bridge that it was raining buckets, and to add to the problem, a truck was reported to have spilled over on the road creating a huge traffic jam, forcing our driver to take a detour and DH to finally complain about the luggage, and our driver to angrily remove them from the roof and jam them all on the back seat leaving me and Ishita 2 feet of space between the pile of suitcases and the window…all this because the LPG power car had the tank installed in the boot!
After God knows how much time we finally make it to our own place, 10 minutes before the landlord, and entered our quarters about 5 minutes before the packers and movers started dumping boxes. Yes I saw my new home empty for just 5 minutes and had to make on the spot decisions about what should go where! I never did go into a new home that blind in my life, but I am proud to announce I pulled it off nice enough. 2 hours in the new home we hired a maid, who dropped by again at 5 to ask if we needed any help, and since all we wanted were for the boxes to be gone and she promised to take them the next day, she helped us unpack the kitchen stuff instead, a smart move considering we hired her to cook food as well, she might as well be there to see which stuff went were immediately.
By 7pm we at least had our clothes put in wardrobes, and the kitchen ready, at the exception of our gas stove who somehow refused to work with the piped gas system, which was no big deal in the immediate present as we anyway had no food in the house, maggi noodles, instant soup and crackers aside, and being just sick with the idea of seeing yet another plate of ramen noodle Dh decided to hunt for a restaurant doing take out and brought back some chicken and some beer and we feasted in our not quite yet settled home while Ishi crashed down on our bed, pretty happy to get her favourite mattress texture back after 5 days.
The rest of the unpacking went quickly the next day, we located a grocery store, got a few basics, and while DH went back to work on the 16th, I waited for stuff such as the wall shelves to be hung, and the satellite TV to be hooked up, doing too many batches of laundry and spending any free time snoozing, feeling the effect of sleep deprivation and stress, and quite true to myself I got a post move cold, complete with sniffle and fever.
A week later I still need more sleep, but I’m feeling better, my brain is starting to think about possible blog entry more coherently and I can function again without overusing post it notes and my little black book.
What’s more I actually like the place, climate set aside I don’t feel bad here, and despite the complex being a bit more close built that the phase 2 of the NRI complex in Navi Mumbai, I don’t feel nearly as claustrophobic as I used to back there. Of course over a year later, I still miss the first flat we left in Bangalore, despite being 600 sq ft, DH and I still agree it was our best ever and still remember our terrace, the parties with friends, and the chilly winter nights spent there, but in that past year so much happened so fast, we are really now longing for a break, so we can settle and appreciate what we have and hopefully 5-6 years from now look back at now with fond memories.
Now it is safe to say we are starting to sound like old people, and I actually like it…a lot!
First of all, I’m all moved in into my new place and I’ll come to it in another post. In the midst of all the shifting and packing and travelling I didn’t get the time to write about my maid in Bangalore, that very same one I called the scavenger in another entry.
So here it goes, we are sorting out our stuff, deciding what should stay behind, what comes with us, the usual drill of relocating. After some deliberation DH and I decided to ask the maid if she wanted our old rice cooker, toaster, the wooden trolley in the utility area, a bag of old clothes, our garden umbrella and stand as well as an old UPS. She agrees to take the lot, and we made it clear all along that it was what we were giving her and repeated the list a few times, and she then says she will take the stuff later during the week. Then 2 days before the packers and movers came she announce she can take the rice cooker with her immediately, which of course we are fine with, but right before she left she went to DH (probably knowing from experience that I have no soft spot) and asked him “Can I take some of your pots and pans and crockery too?” DH was quite baffled to say the less, and then replied that no they are not for give away. hearing the thing myself I thought “Typical” it’s not the first time she is asking for any of my belonging she judges old without even an ounce of tact, she always asks in such a way that makes you feel like they should be hers. DH not quite used to her antics as I am, agreed that I was not kidding when I reported that she always try to get much more out of the bargain.
We thought it would end there, but the next day DH tell her he has a few more clothes she can take, first she start by asking if some of Ishita’s clothes are in there as her sister has a 1 year old daughter, he replies that no there is none, and I ad that I already gave her all of the baby clothes I got rid of a week before, she proceeded to leave, but at the last minute went back to DH and asked “Can I have the mattresses too?” DH told her bluntly “No, we are still using them” and after she left laughed and told me what the maid just asked for. And I was about ready to just crash my head on a wall! I wonder where she got the idea that the mattresses would be left behind, because they are quite new, and are these costly coir thick mats, we have two and we pile them up and cover them with a blanket in Ishita’s room so that they look like a low diwan, their primary use though are guest mattresses, she saw Ishita and my dog on these the whole 6 months she worked for us, and I really wonder still what made her think we wanted to get rid of them. Pretty much as the pots and pans for that matter, she washed these daily, she saw they were not that old and pretty much still in good condition, why would we get rid of hard anodised woks we bought barely a year ago? And what exactly entitled her to ask for these without us offering?
All in all I’m not too sad to see that maid gone, because scavenging behaviour aside she also had a diva attitude in her, and it was always a constant struggle to get her to do the thing she was supposed to do without her voicing her opinion. She stated from the start she wanted us to keep the empty bottles and beer cans for her, but she would only pick them up at her convenience, leaving the bags accumulate on my balcony, worse she would just try to dump other’s people bags of crap in my home, I once missed one, and she left it for days before I threatened to just throw it all away. Then she tried to pull the stunt once more and I cornered her after she brought a huge load of shampoo and bleach bottles with her and tried to leave without, her reply to my questioning about the bag was “Oh I’m leaving it there I will take it another day!” to which I replied “No you take it with you NOW” and her to say “It’s not convenient” and me to say “well I don’t want it there” and her to reply “Why is it a problem”…geez, let me think, why indeed would it be a problem for me to just become the communal dustbin for all recyclables, why would I not want other people’s trash on my balcony? Clearly explaining the common sense of why I don’t want her garbage in my home would be though so I simply told her that I have a baby and a dog and I don’t want her detergent bottles around…period. Looked her straight in the eyes and she got the hint, took her crap, not without acting like I was doing her a huge disfavour and slammed the door.
Then there were the instances she left her tiffin box with me, the first time I thought it was an accident, and luckily I was there when she finished her other job at 2 and came to pick it up, but she tried it once more, and I reminded her to take her bag and was met with “I want to keep it there, it’s more convenient for me” to what I told her that it was NOT convenient for me and I was not going to wait around for her the whole day for her to choose when she wants her stuff back…I have a life thank you very much, she again made a big theatrical sigh, took her stuff, and left.
And there were the cleaning issue, at one point I invested in a more environmentally friendly floor cleaner from Amway, told her to use half a cap only, showed her how to do it, and her to ask immediately that she wants Phenol, I told her no, she retorts that this new detergent is useless as it doesn't smell and she wont use it, I tell her that it’s all there will be and that it doesn't;t smell because it’s organic and safer for kids and nature, she refuse to use it for a week. Then announce that I have to buy phenol because the balcony are dirty, I blow up, scold her, show her the Amway detergent, tell her it’s the most advanced imported detergent available and I want her to use this one, show her the half cap thing, and leave, only for her to furiously use a plastic broom and splash water all over including my freshly washed clothes that were drying outside, and me to go and scold her some more, and her to retort that this detergent is crap, and point at the dirt not coming off the balcony, me to remind her she needs to use the wiper blade, and go take it out for her, and SHOW her how it is done, and how the dirt goes on the first rub with it, her to just throw it away saying it’s taking too much effort!
A week later I notice though that half of the bottle of detergent is gone, remind her that it’s only HALF a cap, and her to tell me she is not using the cap and pouring freely into the bucket because it is simpler, me to tell her it’s highly concentrated (refraining from saying costly), her to play deaf, leaving me to just count the days until we would be rid of her from our imminent relocation.
I never had a maid that had that much of an attitude, not even the first maid I had in Navi Mumbai, and she convinced me to be even stricter with the next maid should the need arise in our new place. So far so good though, but we’ve been in our new quarters only 2 days, things can go sour later on.
Between July 2011 and now we have relocated 3 times and Dh changed job just as many times. The first time even though it meant leaving our great albeit slightly small apartment for Mumbai we were exited, it was new, we had nothing against a change, DH’s job was full of promise, paid better, and we went with an optimistic mind-set about the whole thing, I took tons of pictures, documented the move, was upbeat, happy and just embraced the move.
The DH’s job wasn’t what he expected, uncertainties started poking around, and we found out we really hated Navi Mumbai. So DH went to look for another job, got one, and learnt it had an office in Bangalore, we rejoiced at the prospect of going back to our favourite city, 7 months in Navi Mumbai was our limit, so we shifted, and that is around the exact same time DH’s new company started to announce delays in salaries, always promising the crisis would be solved very soon, by April he was actively looking for something else, not that he hated the job itself, but the endless promises from his boss about the money coming soon wore thinner and thinner (as of today they still owe him 4 months salaries and travel expenses reimbursement). So by June he got this great new offer, in a big reliable company, with more money, with the only drawback that it was back in Mumbai.
By then we were both groaning at the prospect of another move, considering the last one was daunting and not at all exiting despite the promise of being back home. But since life has this funny way of throwing stuff at you we went through the motion, looked at real estate sites, coordinated on the phone, planned the move the best way we could, worried about finance, and before we knew it DH was home after one month being away, to help us get ready for the move.
That time around we really just lost the excitement, the packers and movers aren’t the same as the two previous move, and while they took 2 days to pack, and 4-5 days to relocate our stuff it left us a bit less keyed up and exhausted from the packing and rushing through the airport like zombies, the problem is that as I’m writing this, we are still in Bangalore, at the end of day 2 of urban camping in an empty flat, with a dog and a toddler, boredom had the time to set in, and with it the sinking reality about the move, our stuff will reach on Saturday 13th, in the evening so much so that the unloading of the truck wont happen until Tuesday 16th due to the fact the new apartment building prohibits deliveries on Sunday and that Monday is Independence Day, a day the movers won’t work. All of it entirely sabotaging the plan DH and I had to settle over the weekend.
We just hit the moving wall, the point at which we simply don’t want to and can’t take any more of it, we are fed up, are coming to the realisation we are exhausted as the 2 days we spent was enough to let the adrenaline that was carrying us flush away. We made a new plan, still flying on the 12th but staying in Navi Mumbai until the 15th and then move to our new empty quarter, a friend will have us over, the dog will stay in a kennel, and we will at least sleep in a real bed for 2 nights, and sit in armchairs, and have food in real plates and be able to do some laundry as our clothes were not packed in sufficient amount to last us more than 4 days. DH has to go back to work on the 16th, and hope he can take the afternoon off, as I’m just dreading having to direct packers an movers in a new place with Ishita being the terrible two toddler she is, screaming and whining when things don’t go her way, I’m still human, and at the moment I feel I have reached my sanity break point. All I want right now, is my favourite cup of tea, in my own bed, with my favourite books, a few scented candles, and not even the glimpse of a box, or even a checklist, I want my black book to disappear from my life for a little while and feel functional again.
That move better has to be the last one for at least 5 years to come, or until we can actually afford buying our own place…until then, I don’t even want to hear the words relocation, or packing…I’m THROUGH!
After years of me wondering when this whole plastic bag nonsense going in supermarkets would stop, it seems the day has come.
The Indian government has issued a notice making it mandatory for retailers to charge customers for plastic bags. I got the SMS from Lifestyle which stated it was apparently a national thing, but for the past month or so Spar and Star Bazaar had a notice about the change in plastic bag policy.
And came the first week of August, and sure enough the guy in Star Bazaar asked me if I wanted bags or brought my own, and since I forgot to take mine I paid 4 rupees for 2 standard bags.
Here is my say though: FINALLY! Yes finally big supermarkets can’t get away with using 5-6 plastic bags to bag items that should fit in 2 bags at the most, finally the pleading them to stop segregating your veggies from your grain and your shampoo bottle from the box of corn flakes has come! And gone are the days of you or arguing with the security staff at the entrance to let you in with your jute carry bag or find a way to smuggle it in your over sized purse, and then plead some more with the cashier who refuse to put your groceries in the eco-friendly alternative to the bags embossed with their logo. Yes FINALLY the customer has a CHOICE! And Star Bazaar at least has instructed the security staff to let us in with our own bags, they just put little sticker on them to show that the bag indeed comes from outside and hasn’t been stolen, and the cashier will carefully stack your goods in the bags you provided.
Now the question is will this change be a lasting one? i sure hope so, and I sure hope it will lead to more changes, with retailers even the smaller ones not giving anything plastic. Maybe charging people for plastic bag is the kick in the butt everybody retailer first needed to make a change.
As for the paying for bags, I hope no customer will fuss, after all they have the option to bring their own and not pay the fee. I come from a country where paying for your supermarket bag has been done forever, and it’s the good old paper bag, a shopping icon in Switzerland, that we are paying for, it’s bring your own or pay for a new one rule there, they have plastic for free though, but it’s the lame thin crappy kind that won’t hold a carton of milk without breaking, in an effort to encourage people NOT to rely on them. Other department stores have plastic for free back home, the good bags, but they always ask if you want one or if you are going to store your new purchase in one of your other bags, as the concept of checking your bags at the entrance of a store doesn’t apply there.
The irony about India though, is that the insane plastic craze is something quite new, DH said growing up it was paper or jute bags even at the mom and pops corner store. How did the plastic thing went so out of hand in the last 10-15 years? With small supermarket banning people from entering with their own bag and forcing a plastic bag on their patrons? That is something I now wonder even more. I haven’t seen any resistance to the recent switch, in fact you see hordes of very happy customer producing their bunch of jute bags at the check out point and very few leaving with plastic bag, it seem the green habit was there, and just repressed by mass consumption, as if most people only waited to be allowed to be greener while shopping.
Here’s the beginning of the end of the plastic era!
One of my reader wondered how I manage to keep my blog so up to date in spite of all the packing and moving craziness going on in my life right now.
Well first of all, I’m the type who writes down tension as soon as they appear (in order to leave more room in my mind for more tensions to build up I might add).
I’ve always been writing, and loving it, be it in my diary, essays in school, there hasn’t been a day without me scribbling something for as far as I remember.
I also have the crazy ability to just multitask physically and mentally all at once, so while I am busy doing something, a solid portion of my mind is free to think about something too. And since I have a fairly good memory as well, I tend to remember a lot about my mind wandering trips which I can put to use the minute I have some spare time.
In extremely busy times like now, I however rely on this:
An external hard drive for the brain if you like, I also call it my little black book, it contains ideas, recipes, drafts of potential blog entries, and my relocation war plan, when a topic or info becomes out-dated, I just rip the pages off, pretty much the way you would delete temp files on your computer, once the book is over, I get a new one.
As far as the war plan goes, the book is at hand during the whole relocation phase, travels with me in my cabin luggage, and contains not only the to do lists, but the useful phone numbers we might need before leaving our old flat and the one we will need once arriving. The measurements of some of my furniture, so that once in the new empty flat I can immediately refer to it while starting to plan a home decor in my mind, all that to just direct the packers and movers better once they arrive, and since in the past 3 moves I’ve been going blind for two of them, seeing the flat for the first time once arrived with our suitcase, anticipating as fast as I can is a necessity (mainly because I hate moving and the more painless and faster I can make it the better).
And because I’m constantly planning stuff in my mind, I get more time to think about writing, blog, craft project…the ideas never come in short supply, but time does, with all the great projects I have running through my crazy little brain, only about 10% ever make it into a concrete thing, the remaining keeps coming and going, until one day they finally get to make it to the next level.
Let’s face it at over a 100 bucks for one bulb, they are the things you don’t want to leave behind with each move, especially when DH and I prefer the ones that gives a yellow light over the ghastly white regular one and that the one we prefer force us to go to an electrical store rather than pick them up at the supermarket.
When we were living in Navi Mumbai our flat had about 20 (yes I counted them) bulb sockets, and the oh so boring traditional naked tube lights I so detest. So DH and I decided to just put a few bulbs around the place, the bathrooms had the cold white ones because we goofed up, but all the other rooms had or lamps or sockets we equipped with yellow light CFL.
When we left we took all out bulb with us, as when we came in there was nothing and we were not about to give the landlady or future tenant any freebie. So I purchased a big square “Lock and Lock” stile plastic box, and we stored all the bulbs in there. back then we didn’t have more than two toilet paper roll, so I used these, and wrapped the other in newspaper, as we threw the original package away. Now both method work, all our bulbs arrived intact in Bangalore, but the newspaper method gets bulky and is time consuming.
This time around I wisely started saving TP rolls over the weeks, even using the kitchen towel rolls cut in 3 and used them to get all my precious CFL packed up. All you need to do is put the tube part inside the roll, and tape the roll to the base of the bulb and store them all neatly in a box…it takes half the time of rolling newspaper around them, and you can reuse the rolls for a craft project at destination if you have kids…in my case I’m planning to make a Christmas shaped Advent Calendar for Ishi using these.
The active phase has started, after weeks of anticipation, real estate website search, the reality that we will be moving shortly after finding a great flat, the war plan drafts, the preliminary work, and the mental conditioning, we are now officially in the final stretch before our stuff find their way into boxes, a truck and off to Mumbai.
I would have loved for the plan to not deviate, but this time there has been minor changes in the test and tried MO, the biggest deviation being the choice of packing and moving company, in the past we used Agarwal packers and Movers, we knew the deal, they come, give the estimate, you call them at least 24hrs in advance, they come, they pack in a day, and 3 days later they are at the destination, they unpack, you check the boxes on your list as they come in, and you ten store the stuff in the furniture yourself, and inevitably find one or two things that bear some slight albeit non critical damage.
This time however, DH’s company has a tie up with another company, name unknown, who seem to work a bit differently.
The guy who came for the estimate was extremely punctual, which is a big positive point, he was polite, efficient, and asked the questions right…another big positive. He then called DH to ask him the rough estimated value of our stuff for the insurance purpose (Agarwal never bothered), and then ask him at what date we want the stuff to reach Mumbai, DH announces the 13th of August, so that we have the whole long weekend to get settled, according to this info, the guy announce that the packing phase should commence on the 8th and finish on the 9th, that I find odd, because I know from experience that it doesn’t take 2 days to pack it all, and DH points it out, the guy said it might take less time but that he is taking the arrival of the transit truck into the equation, which makes a lot of sense, as with the previous moves the truck comes to pic up the stuff in the evening and probably doesn’t leave the warehouse until the next day.
I sure hope that the positive first impression is going to reflect with the packers and movers and how they handle my stuff, DH assures me that since they have a tie up with a big company like his that must be good enough. We haven’t had the final quote, but DH suspect that they sent it straight to the finance department in his company and that we won’t have to pay the amount out of our pocket and then wait for reimbursement…a thing that would be more than excellent considering the financial poo poo in which DH’s previous employer put us through.
The longer estimated transit to Mumbai left us with a new matter to plan: our living arrangement while in transit. There will be at least one night of urban camping in our old flat for sure, then the plan is to stay for 2-3 days at a friends place in Navi Mumbai while checking jasmine into a kennel upon arrival, then proceed to our new apartment on delivery day, all this in the effort of making the move less traumatising for Ishita, and less boring for us (3 days of living in an empty place…that’s a bit too much Urban Camping.
DH is just now starting to wake up and think things through, and fortunately my war plan covers it all, and I am proud to announce that about 98% of the preliminary tasks have been chalked off the list. Leaving us with the daunting matter of the old college books, boring novels, and Xeroxed SAP books DH has been hoarding over the years. We agreed that this time, we are going to jettison some of the dead weight, the only issue was were to dump the crap, the matter is going to be fully resolved on Saturday when DH comes back for the final phase, but in an effort to be a bit more efficient during our rather short window between the move and DH’s homecoming I set up to empty all the wardrobes cabinets of their literary content, after DH asked me to send him list of all the original copies of his college books! As an efficient lady that I can be, I set up to the task right away, taking down piles after piles of books, sorting them into “throw away” “SAP” and “College”. Then took my little black book and wrote down the titles of the said college books along with the author’s name as a draft to the word document I would send later.
Some might ask why I didn’t write the document right away, well there are several reasons, the main one being that I set on the task in the middle of Ishita’s nap for improved productivity while still being aware of the Murphy’s law of parenthood stating that if you have a big project demanding some quiet time you are less likely to get it as the nap will end sooner than usual.
And guess what? I was right, it did, barely 45 minutes after putting my daughter in bed for the nap she woke up in tears, and refused to sleep some more. SO my plan of writing down on paper where I wont feel lost and confused if I stop 6 times in between to attend toddler emergencies and possibly fear having to deal with a laptop issue (toddlers and laptops don’t mix, and another murphy’s law states that should you embark on a very important task in Ms Office you will loose your work if you didn't;t back it up the old fashioned way with an old copy). The key to mommy sanity in these situations is to trump Murphy’s laws, learned through a lot of trial and error I might add.
So about 2 hours after I set up on the task of playing old junk librarian, I clicked send on Gmail, with my precious list and my daughter blissfully ignoring me watching the “Pingu” episodes I downloaded that very morning as part of my strategic planning.
I wished though that DH owned more original college books, and more Xeroxed crap, than he owns Xeroxed SAP learning material, because that he wants to hang dear to, never mind that he no longer works with SAP, that he never touched most of the books while he was working on SAP and that piling them up in one neat single pile was scary, never did I see as much books on one single topic reaching my personal height in one private home. All my favourite novels put together…yeah sure…but they are paperbacks, they don’t nearly take as much space as these monster spiral bound things…I informed DH right away of the scary scenario unfolding, at which point he tells me he has a few of these in eBooks on his hard drive! And that if he has time this weekend he will go through them. I should have known, we have some music albums that we own on Cassettes, CD and MP3, never mind that our music system is kaput and that yes DH is keeping it too, just in case it gets miraculously healed, growing back fried circuits, and tape compartment doors (that Ishi ripped off the base unit)…sigh!
I spent the rest of the day persuading my daughter to eat lunch, wrote a shopping list, removed all the CFL light bulbs we bought with the plain old incandescent ones that came with the place, noticing of course that out of 5 bulbs 4 fried and broke, electrocuted myself trying to remove the base of a bulb from my testing unit (bedside table) after only the glass part came out, not fully realising that both the wall plug switch and the lamp’s switch were on. Moment at which my daughter decided to throw all the popcorns on the floor and scream because my dog went for the free food and my neighbour ringing my doorbell because she wanted to know the phone number of my landlord (which we don’t have).
I spent a cumulative hour on the phone with DH clarifying some details relevant to the upcoming move, and an increase urge to start striking the last minute tasks off my list and be done with this whole move. If I weren’t so science deficient I would see myself as a lab rat mad physicist coming up with the real version of the shrink laser from “Honey I shrank the kids” in a more portable version, in order to zap all my stuff, load them in my suitcase, and zap them back to their original size on destination. of course if I were the one inventing such a thing, I would be rich, and we would be in our own mansion or something, and would not need to relocate because of DH’s job…
In the even of our upcoming move, I just went through the now bi-annual torture of going through my wardrobe. And it never fail to follow the same pattern, so much so that I’m almost tempted to call it a ritual practice destined to make one feel bad about themselves.
It inevitably starts with me walking toward the wooden (ok laminate) beast in my suit of armour (aka sweat pant and t-shirt) determined to organize my textile chaos into piles: “Still wearable”, “Old and frumpy” and “Too small”. The too small category divides itself into two subcategories named “Almost fitting” and “Seriously Hopeless” (or “You ain’t 20 no more’ if you prefer)
The first pile is the easiest, it’s all the stuff I wear daily, I know how they feel and look, and they go straight back to the shelves in a neat organized way. The old and frumpy lot, well the good new is that I don’t have to strip and try them, if they are old and frumpy, that means I wore them a lot and find comfort in them. But it is still a slightly more delicate pile, you see I’m a bit sentimental with clothes, if they fit, and I am comfy in them, I tend to hang dear to them until they practically fall apart, so when dealing with this pile the question to ponder is “how old is too old?” Each piece of clothing is held in front of me and looked at carefully, looking at every seams and flaps for a capital offense that will relegate them to be duster material until death shall come, or do they continue staying warm in my wardrobe serving as PMS gear (yes there is such a thing!)
The worst is always saved for last: the dreaded too small batch. It has me strip to my underwear, followed by endless grunting and puffing and sucking in my tum to just zip them pants hoping that no seam will burst, or that I won’t pass out.
There are the same old stuff that “Almost fit” and has “Almost been fitting” since I gave birth to my daughter, and the same old “Seriously Hopeless” I kept keeping for some reason, that last pile is a major space invader in my wardrobe, and it’s mostly clothes that are size 8 and were fitting my body 8 years ago and which stopped fitting after a year spent in India, of course the first few years they were in the subcategory “Almost fitting” and now I just wonder what kind of self delusion is making me keep them.
And yes this time around I yet again toyed with the idea of keeping them “just in case”, went to the kitchen to make myself a cup of tea still pondering the matter and suddenly out of the blue a scene from Gone with the wind came to me, that very scene where Scarlett hangs dear to her four poster bed while Mammy yanks on the string of her corset to tighten it, then measure her and announce a 20 inches waist with which Scarlett is not happy, as she was 18 prior her pregnancy. Scarlett begs mammy to try to lace her tighter, and Mammy full of wisdom explain to her she can’t expect to ever be 18 inches after childbirth and that she will have to get over it.
Yes indeed! Pregnancy does change a woman, permanently, and there is nothing we can do about it, so time to stop being delusional about my size 8 clothes and give them away.
But my recent entry about western women having an obsession about their figure the way Indian women are obsessed about their complexion is ringing loud in my head.
I sure am not alone deluding myself into fitting old clothes that clearly will never fit again, worse it seems the trend has gone through the ages. And even worse yet, it seems torturing your body to fit an ideal silhouette isn’t news either. Scarlett O’Hara might be fictionnal, but women in her time were corseted, and the ideal of beauty back them was indeed to have a tiny waist, big hips, and wide torso, and women endured being squeezed silly in a hard corset, renouncing a healthy blood circulation and unconstraint breathing to just fit in, some would pass out, and if the corset wasn’t enough, petticoats, hoops, baskets and probably pounds of fabrics added to their misery, which they all stoically endured in the name of beauty. And yes while my generation mourns size 8 jeans post pregnancy I have no reason to believe that Scarlett’s reaction was made up, she tried to suck in her tum as much as I try to suck mine in.
What strikes me though is that in a way, all women are yearning at the size they were as a teen, hoping to go back to it, hormones be damned, not fully grasping that it would be like being a beautiful butterfly yearning to be a cocoon once more…both are of course impossible, but that doesn’t stop us from wanting to look like a teenager again (minus the zits).
So all in all, my size 8 stuff definitely went to the “give away” bag, and the “almost fitting” left are the one who are closing all the way up, but are slightly too tight, but will definitely fit once I shed 2-3 kg more. I’m left with a big gap in my wardrobe, and a damaged self esteem I promptly fixed with a piece of chocolate…