Moving house is like travelling. Both are a great test of how strong your relationship is. Ask me, we moved from Mumbai to Delhi last week, the battle scars are fresh.
It started when we were packing.
“We can throw away half our things,” the husband said. “Great idea,” I replied. But when we drew up our individual list of what we wanted to dump, nothing tallied.
“The television couch can go. I just don’t find it comfortable,” he said.
Weighed down: What’s your baggage?
“But we bought it less than two years ago. At that time you thought it was brilliant. Besides, I find it comfortable and I’m the movie watcher,” she said.
“These ugly lights should definitely go,” she said.
“What’s wrong with them? They have served me so well,” he said.
“Should we get rid of the clunky chest of drawers,” she asked hopefully.
“Why? It’s great to store stuff,” he said.
“I’m giving away half my clothes,” he said.
One hour later…
“You gave the cook all your best T-shirts!”
“What’s in that suitcase?,” he said.
“Clothes I don’t wear currently but might wear in the future,” she said, with a warning glare.
That’s when we gave up and packed everything.
Our attitudes to moving house are very different. That’s probably because, while I can count the number of times I’ve moved on one hand, this was his 23rd move (I’m hosting a bash for his 25th). My father-in-law was in the IPS and his family trooped through several small towns in southern India before moving north and then weaving back south.
Then there’s the issue of space. In eight years of marriage, we have never agreed on the size of the place we want to rent.
For me, small is beautiful. First, who’s going to dust a bloody palace? (He believes dust adds character). And second, when he’s travelling, how will I stay alone in a large, empty house?
For him, size matters. He’s always grown up in XL, rambling houses—a couple of them even had resident ghosts. He feels claustrophobic in compact spaces. I, on the other hand, grew up in a hotel suite where I just had to call room service if I saw a cockroach or needed a cup of tea (but that’s another story).
And then, most importantly, there is the history of our respective communities.
“Why don’t we buy one fan first, see how it works and then buy the other?” she said.
“And let’s look around before we pick up any garden furniture please,” she added.
“I have a couple of hours this morning. Let’s just go to the neighbourhood market and buy everything,” he said.
Finally, I left him to shop alone at the market, where he encountered a Sindhi shopkeeper who offered him a theory on the psychology of my community.
This is what the shopkeeper, himself a Sindhi, told the husband: Sindhis unconsciously pass on the lessons they learnt during the partition to their next generation. They don’t know how to enjoy the fruits of their labour. They believe in saving (and saving more) because who knows what might happen.
The husband is part Goan; a community that, in the shopkeeper’s opinion, doesn’t worry too much about tomorrow. One that knows how to enjoy life.
“Must be difficult. Both of you are so different,” the shopkeeper said sagely, before selling him unbranded fans for the price of branded ones.
PS: I’m happy to report that, aided by alcohol, friends and love, we did indeed survive the move.
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