Friday, August 8, 2008

The Mechanics of Moving

Moving is such an unforgettable experience. You have to leave a house which you have grown to like, and move to someplace new, some new locality, sometimes with people you hardly know. Some people are lucky enough to have lived their whole lives in one house, while some move from town to town, sometimes to other countries, and there are people like me who move around a lot in one city.

Over the last four years I have lived in 10 different houses, and moved 11 times. That’s an average of four point eight months at one house. The shortest stay was two months at one house, and the longest was one and a half years. I have been kicked out because of unruly behavior (mostly loud music and too many people coming and going), parted ways with people due to irreconcilable differences, moved during the monsoon, rode in the back of a police truck, lived in a supposedly haunted house, and even swapped roommates at one point of time.

I never planned or wanted to be so nomadic, it just happened. I particularly remember one apartment into which we moved on the 30th of December. The next day being the New Year’s Eve, we invited some friends over, and at around midnight things get a little bit out of hand, what with some people singing, some shouting, and some just being weird. The neighbours couldn’t stand it anymore and pounded on our door, and a shouting match soon followed of which I was an active participant. (Same neighbor complained our cooking was too “smelly”) The party broke up shortly; and a couple of months later we moved.

I remember one year when we moved during the monsoon. All our stuff got wet, my books were curled, our mattresses got soaked and heavy, and clothes turned multicoloured. We had nothing to wear for a few days.

And there was this very big old house where we stayed for almost a year. In the beginning things were hunky dory, the landlord was very nice (as all landlords are). As time wore on, we discovered the plumbing was fitted before Tipu Sultan. The electricity meter was equally ancient and our bills were astronomical. Added to that was an eternal debate between us and the other tenants as to who will pay the water bill (it had been unpaid for a loooong time before we came into the picture) and nobody wanted to pay for something which they didn’t use. The landlord was completely useless, he would tell us to settle it between ourselves and make himself scarce. Finally we also left the house with the water bill still pending.

I remember one time me and my three girlfriends moved. Our new house was just a kilometer away, and we being cheapskates that we were didn’t want to spend money on auto and decided to walk. We loaded our stuff into an auto carrier, but the driver needed guidance. So what we did, I and the other older girl, we made the two younger girls sit on either side of the auto driver and sent them off. We had a dog then, and one of the girls carried it. Since they were younger than us they were in no position to argue, and so they drove off, all the while cursing us. They had never forgotten that episode, and still mentions it every time the subject of moving comes up in our conversations, and they had never forgiven us.

Moving day usually finds me waking up earlier than usual, and since stuff had to be packed would usually trot over to the nearest store to get some empty cartons. Sometimes somebody else would be sent . I would spend the whole day with a pair of scissors and a marker in my pockets and a roll of brown tape worn on my arm. The packing itself is another activity that requires much specialization and expertise. You cannot just grab whatever is within sight and stuff it inside a box. Breakables at one box, with a large “Breakables” written outside. I have so many books I usually label the boxes as per the shelf from which the books were removed (“Right Side Top”, “Middle-smaller ones” etc). And we usually have lots of stuff which we never use but didn’t have the heart to throw out, like the revolving lamp that we got at Christmas Gift Exchange, the statuette with the broken head that somebody had unsuccessfully glued back on, the picture frame that never held a picture in its lifetime, the magazines that were opened once and then stacked a foot high, etc etc. Clothes and personal stuff usually occupied a couple of suitcases, and there would be lots and lots of boxes, every box coming with its own label. “Plates & Glasses”, “Etc” “Stationery”, “Cassettes & CD’s”, etc. Mirrors are never packed; they are always carried in person. Kitchen utensils go inside buckets. Some boxes have moved so many times you have to wonder which is the right label, you would find “Textbooks” crossed out, and then “Shoes” written on a corner, yet another corner would be labeled “Etc”, and there you’d be, packing “Bibles & Albums” in it.

And then there was that time we moved to a nearby house, just a stone’s throw away. We moved in the evening, and before moving had cooked and eaten lunch. Some of the food was left over and since we didn’t want to or throw it away, carried the utensils in hand and walked to the new house. Stingy we were, or should I say practical?

On moving day we usually make lots of phone calls. The owner had to be called and notified, the broker summoned, friends called over to help. Arguments always happen, almost always with the auto drivers. The new house had to be cleaned, and unpacking takes forever. At the end of the day we would fell into bed, exhausted and drained. And a couple of months later we would do it all over again.


  1. Whew! Just reading this post made me so exhausted because it reminded me of the innumerable moves we made when we were younger, because of my dad's transferable job.The hardest part of moving to new places is leaving old friends behind and trying to fit into new ones. I guess that way, you can at least hang on to old friends if you're still in the same city.

  2. This reminds me of the old song My elusive dreams. It was the "The party broke up shortly; and a couple of months later we moved" which brought it up. Phew ambs, you make me tired too. I've never really moved much, at least not since growing up, though I was in lots of different schools as a kid. I don't like changes and one of my old teachers who was also our dorm matron used to affectionately tap a finger on my cheek and call me "an old stick in the mud."

    Love your reminiscences. And your "as time wore on, we discovered the plumbing was fitted before Tipu Sultan" is a riot! You didn't detail the haunted house btw. Did the restless spirits kick you out? :D

    Nice to see the new pretty in pink layout. Though how long are you planning to read Zadie Smith? :P

  3. daydreambeliever:You're right, moving within the same city does have its advantages. But although I'm quite a veteran at it, I can never get used to moving. The new places, new shops, new everything, it always takes me at least a month to get settled.

  4. J: You should try moving some time, it really refreshes the soul :P

    The haunted house? We didn't get spooked by any ghosts but by the young owner whose life was one big endless party.

    Zadie Smith? Another word for boring. The only reason she is still up there is because I wouldn't admit defeat. I will finish that book someday, and rest assured it will never cross your path again.

  5. Hmmmm intresting. Moving, that what i havent done for a long long time, and if i was in your shoes, i would still hate it. Nice blog. Just dropping in, got the link from j.

  6. Vana: Thanks for visiting, do keep coming back. Yes, one can never really like or get used to moving no matter how many times you have done it.