The moving bug

Another move, another round of packing, cleaning the house you are leaving, cleaning the house you are moving into, unpacking, arranging everything, making adjustments in the new place, and settling down. All my life I remember shifting houses, the time period in one house is never fixed. Sometime a few months, other times a few years, but move on, I must.

It is destiny, I guess, the same way as in the movie Chocolat — when the north wind blows, it is the signal for Elizabeth Binoche to move on, as her mother and her mother before her had done.

Only no North wind blows to signal a move for us. But some unseen force is work or else we wouldn’t still be moving, when others our age are settling down to a peaceful life.

It is a family tradition passed on from my parents I guess. Father was in central government service and was transferred regularly. Though my mother stayed put in Nagpur with us children due our school and college schedules, we didn’t escape the moving routine. Instead of moving to different cities, we shifted houses. One year, I remember shifting three houses in one street!

Why? If the house was fine, there was water problem, and if water was aplenty, the ceiling leaked in the rains. Sometimes the rent was unreasonably high and at others, the house was too small. Mother made do with the worst facilities, even cooking in an open veranda in one house since there was no kitchen! When I have to make do with abysmal arrangements in the various houses I have lived in, I remember her with admiration and soldier on…

Back then there were not too many items of furniture and the entire household stuff would be filled in boxes or bundled up and the shifting done on the two bicycles of my brothers. So simple!

My parents kept shifting houses, cities and didn’t stay for very long even in the ancestral home of my father! The tradition has been passed on to us children. While my sisters and brothers have shifted houses, I have SHIFTED houses – about three dozen of them, give or take a couple. The boys are following suit too!

In Mumbai one has to shift every 11 months in rented accommodation. But we move houses in other cities too. It is not just the tenancy laws that work in our case: something larger and more powerful like the North wind in Chocolat, works. So we cannot stay put in one house, no matter which city we live in. Once we vacated a house in just three months – the owner wanted to live there himself and my husband, the accommodating man that he is, agreed, despite the agreement on stamp paper and all. “It is his house, after all,” he reasoned when we protested.

So used to the moving were the boys when they were growing up that they settled in the new house seamlessly, thanks to….ahem….yours truly, who put up the familiar curtains and arranged the few pieces of furniture so that they felt instantly at home. As they grew, they began helping in the cleaning and packing routine too.

When we bought our own house, the younger boy was still a pre-teen and probably the enormity of living in one’s own house had not sunk in. So, a couple of months after we settled in, during which I went berserk hammering as many nails as I wanted on all the walls, and pushing and pulling stuff without having to worry about the owner’s objections, he asked, “Ma, when are we shifting from here?”

Though it is a big drain on resources – physical and financial – there is something to say for the constant change in one’s dwelling. There is variety and excitement of the new neighbourhood, making new friends, the challenge of making a home out of a house (which can sometimes be a real challenge believe me!) and the varied experiences of new places.

The flip side is the leaving behind of friends and familiar neighbourhoods. Also you have to divide your childhood into packets of different places, houses, neighbourhoods.

I have often wondered and sometimes envied those who live in one place, even the same house for generations. I have been to houses where three or more generations of inmates have lived with not only the same furniture but also in the same arrangement.

While some might find this comforting, the nomadic genes in me get restless with constancy. So when we are not actually shifting houses, I shift around the furniture, change rooms, curtains and the like, to beat the monotony.

And so here I am, trying to arrange the stuff I have unpacked for the nth time, trying to get used to a dark kitchen and sundry other discomforts. Wonder when the moving bug will bite again, I am so tired…Wish it were as simple as the ashes of the urn spilling and signaling the end of our nomadic days!

25 comments

  1. […] I had done a  post on moving homes last year, I honestly didn’t think that I would be doing another one so soon. But […]

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  2. hey there….just read your comment on my post and came to take a peep at your blog…and I found a Nagpurian with quite similar fates when it comes to house shifting…ughhhh
    In 10 years of marriage I have shifted to 11 houses…so we are in the same boat..

    I so hear you and understand how it feels..never to know when you need to move…and just when your are settling in a new place off you go…again with the packing and moving…

    BTW I am from Nagpur too…my family and in-laws are still in nagpur…so we have a city connection..yipeee

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    1. Welcome here Lazy Pineapple! you look good enough to overtake me in the number of houses moved!:) My nearly 40 houses were moved over a span of 33 years, not counting my childhood moves of course.
      And a Nagpurian! That sounds great! Unfortunately I have lost touch with the city after my parents and then my brother moved away in the 80s.

      May I know the raaz behind your blog name? From your posts and comments on other blogs, you are anything but ‘lazy’! 🙂 But whatever the reason, it sounds delicious! 🙂

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      1. oh gawd 40 houses!!! that is just over my head…

        The blog name is a result of too much brainstorming between hubby and me for a domain name 🙂

        It is a name of a poker game..and life is a gamble..so that is what I look at life as…

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        1. And moves are not over by any means, LP! Woe to me:(

          I didn’t know about the gambling connection to your blog name! Yes, life is a gamble, isn’t it?

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  3. This is scary but then ask me I have gone through this as kid and it did not affect us much at that time but ma was always cribbing. Dad had this fascination for smaller places and ma wanted to be where is can be connected to the world. The debate went on endlessly with ma packing up in the end. now after dad gone she is holed up at one place and constantly wants to move from one place to other at 79 years of age… difference is ..she wants to explore with places and return to one stable home 🙂
    wishing you happy well settled life here ..at least for the time being .
    hugs

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    1. I know how your mother must be feeling. It is fun to move when you want to and another thing altogether when you move perforce. I am glad she is able to enjoy visiting new places and have fun at her age! and yes, it is important to have your own place to roost! I am hoping to meet her soon! 🙂

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  4. I stayed at Nagpur too, and for various reasons shifted 5 times in the same city Nagpur in 6 years, 3 times in Pune in 4 years and in some other cities in India and abroad too in between.
    There’s one more thing about moving, back then, when everyone wasn’t armed with mobile phones, the landline numbers kept changing. I had so many people grumbling about pages in their diaries getting filled with my phone numbers and still not knowing which was the correct one!
    The other part is, when people ask you, where are you from? I say the first city that comes to my head. Its a disadvantage sometimes, but good to bond with people if they are from that part! I have enjoyed moving like you said because of the charm of meeting different kinds of people with their disparate regional identities, the excitement of discovering a new place…Now after every couple of years, I get bored of the same place. Thankfully I have kept moving, but I guess, in time the nomad in me will have to stop being restless!

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    1. It’s a nice idea to tell people the first city that comes to your head! LOL. I tell them that I am from India; it may sound corny, but that’s the easiest reply I can give! And oh yes, the complaints about the changing numbers from friends and relatives! 😀 Sometimes even my relatives complain that they don’t know where I am at all! My oler son’s friend, whose mother and I are friends told me how whenever he asked my son about me, he would reply, “Do you want their present address or the one they might go to by next week?” 🙂

      You are mistaken about the mobile numbers not changing. We have changed those too and the boys complain that their phone memories are eaten by our various numbers! 😀

      Are you a Nagpurian or just lived there?

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      1. Like I said, its complicated. My parents are from Nagpur. So, that ways I am one by birth! But otherwise I grew up at Mumbai where I did half my schooling, Muscat where I did the other half and where my parents still are. and Pune where I worked and studied and where my parents plan to settle later and I m married to a family from Mumbai! So that makes me from all over! Now I just came for a while to New York..so the moving continues!

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        1. I had some of my schooling in Nagpur, then Mumbai, and in the South and then came back to Nagpur to finish my college. So you could say I am from all over too! but the major moving came after my marriage and all the nearly 40 of them have been in that period till date and don’t know how many more 😛

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  5. The number of things we have in common girl, seems to be growing with each of your posting ! It’s spooky !!
    We’ve been moving all our lives as well…..within city(shifting houses) inter-city, inter-state, overseas and what have you ! Started way back when we were tots, thanks to our father’s transferable job which took us to cities/towns far north to east and then to west of the country every 2-3 years ! And we too had similar “two establishment” arrangement while growing up. We stayed back with our mother for uninterrupted schooling (when we were in higher classes, admissions for which wouldn’t have been possible in a new city/state) or for the lack of good colleges at dad’s place of posting. So dad lived by himself during such times…..
    After marriage too, the moves continued…..First it was change of state then we moved to the US where we continued in the same vein – changing houses, cities, states ! And then the big move back to India and the same cycle continued ….shifting houses, cities and states…..
    And much like you making new friends and losing touch with the ones we left behind was all part of the cycle…..
    Though I looked forward to moving to new places, I didn’t really enjoy the packng and unpacking part of it, but it certainly outweighed the thrill of the next move !

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    1. Oh yes, how could I forget your moves? They sound even more scary than ours. hopefully you should settle down in the near future, right? But be sure to do so in a well connected place which will allow the boys to come and go with ease as also allow you to move around without having to shell out the airfare through the nose, in case of an emergency! This move was also partially because of the last mentioned reason!

      the packers and movers are supposed to do the work, but since no two houses are the same, they can’t arrange things for us. And the biggest challenge is to find a place for everything. Believe me, it can be maddening if one has stuff like I do — uncategorised and totally random! 😀

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  6. so scary Zephyr… we have so much in common… my family keeps on moving too… thanks to Dad’s transferable station..

    i am on my own now but still the legacy continues… in last 3 yrs i have shifted over like 7 – 8 houses… i like the sheer pleasure of packing… but i hate unpacking and arranging stuff… oh lucky me has only 23 cartons and its only me.. 😀

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    1. I do have company! an average of nearly 3 houses in a year is quite a lot, isn’t it? and 23 cartons still seems quite a lot to me. Btw, that reminds me; I still have 5 more to unpack 😦 and then arrange 😦 😦

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  7. Before I got married we shifted just once, from a rented place to our own. I was in school then and not really a part of the draining process of moving. Now, after marriage, living in Mumbai has its own downfalls, one of them being the 11 months rent agreement. We had to shift only once, but God, I went crazy arranging and rearranging stuff! I don’t mind moving around the furniture at home to give it a fresh look but complete shifting is just-not-welcome!

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    1. Were you lucky! Just once you say? I can’t believe it. the landlords must have been exceptionally good to have let you stay on! Like Ratzzz says, packing is fine, it is the unpacking that is tedious and draining. Hope you have your own house and you continue to stay in it.:)

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      1. Oh yes…our landlord’s son was my father’s best friend, he is even now. Its been more than 15 yrs that we’ve moved to our own place but Dad still goes back to hang out with them! 🙂
        True…unpacking and rearranging stuff is the tedious part. More so since we’re so accustomed to the old place that for some days the new one is a whole new world. Thanks for your wishes…I too hope the time comes soon when I’ll happily decorate my own home! 🙂

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        1. That sounds so sweet! 🙂 In today’s commercial world, you sometimes don’t even meet the landlords but deal with brokers. And landlords can be heartless (not to say that all tenants are full of heart!) and curt.

          My prayers for you not only to decorate your own home soon, but also stay put in it so long that A Jr. will one day tell his friends about it!

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  8. Good luck with that. I’ve moved around a lot, too, although I’ve been settled the last six years – just down the road from where it all began. I guess that’s full circle. Think I’ll stay.

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    1. What a small circle! You are indeed lucky to have closed it like that! All the best for your continued stay 🙂

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  9. My parents live in the same house my granddad lived in. If I were a guy, I’d have lived there too, making three generations, I guess 😛

    Happy moving 🙂

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    1. It gives kids a sense of belonging to live in one place, I guess. That way, I am guilty of not giving my kids that sense of security. But to be fair to myself, I have made them see the positive side of moving and they have… so far. 🙂

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  10. I hear you on this one. I’ve led very much a nomadic life myself. Recently while filing for security clearance I had to mention all my residences for the past 5 years, and it came around to 11 over 5 different cities, which left my house mate quite perplexed for he had only 2 addresses before 2008 and 3 since then. Its fun and yet…

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    1. You said it, it is fun, but also a pain — a big pain. 11 residences in 5 years! that’s quite a lot indeed. No wonder your housemate looked bewildered! 🙂 Here’s to wishing you settle down in one place soon…

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