A dash of Pepper…

…with a splash of Mint

Packing up our life in Mumbai

Posted by Pepper on January 15, 2017

Since our decision to move back to the US was burdening us with so much of doubt and fear, we decided to consider this move to be not more than an experiment. We told ourselves we would move back to India at any point if we believed we would be happier there. Even if it meant staying without a job for a while.

The problem with trying to keep one foot in India and one foot in the US was that it was hugely impacting our decision making process and making everything far too complex. We had our entire life set up in Mumbai and carrying all our belongings with us to California did not make sense. The shipping costs far exceeded the worth of the items. Neither did we want to dispose our stuff, because what if we decide to move back to India soon?

We knew we needed to rent out our apartment, so leaving our stuff in there was not an option. We had not started preparing for our move until the very last second, hoping that through some miracle we would be able to avoid the move. Our idea of miracles included Mint getting an awesome job in Mumbai at the very last moment, or our US visa getting rejected through some unlikely stroke of luck. Because then his company would not be able to force us to move. Hah, seriously, we seemed to be the only two people at the embassy who appeared disappointed when the visas were approved.

Once our visas were approved, we decided to look out for a tenant and told ourselves we will begin packing after we find one. To our luck, we found a tenant almost immediately. He wanted the house in a week. And so began the mammoth task of emptying out the apartment.

The plan was to discard some stuff, set aside some stuff that we wanted to carry with us and pack the rest in boxes that we would keep in my parents house until we figured what to do with them. We knew my parents were being very generous by allowing us to clutter their house with our stuff and turn it into a warehouse. So we thought we would *try* to minimise the stuff we had to store.I know, sometimes my ambitions are amusing.

Before I knew it, I was getting traumatised by our worldly possessions. How much stuff did we own! And why? I started with the clothes and gave away bag fulls. That was not too hard. But then came the books and the DVDs that we had painstakingly collected over the years. We had over 8 shelves of those. No, I didn’t want to just give them away. Neither could we carry them. And what about our electronics? Home theater system, Play Station, X-box kinect? Since we couldn’t come up with a plan for all those items, they went in boxes whose fate is still unknown.

Then came the miscellaneous items! We already had boxes that had been lying unopened from the time we had moved from the US. God, I feel embarrassed even saying that. But really, we chose to not unpack those old boxes because our Mumbai apartment was too small to accommodate those things. I had so many candles and candle stands, accessories for the house, digital photo frames, unused dinner sets, colourful scarves, vases, etc. It really was an endless list of things we didn’t know what to do with. Ultimately, my mom helped us put them in boxes and cartons that have been dumped in her home.

Mint and I were getting exhausted with all the sorting, packing and taping. My dad completely took over the task of clearing out the kitchen. He separated the steel, the nonstick, the glassware and labeled each box accordingly. I realised at that point how much more organised than us he was. My parents have been our saviours. Running errands for us, taking over certain jobs, helping us pack, keeping meals ready for us, what would we have done without their help and support?

One evening as the sister and I were bubble wrapping all our magnets, I paused for a moment to take it all in. Was this really happening? Were we packing up our wonderful life here and moving to the other end of the world. Apparently, we were. But it certainly hadn’t sunk in for any of us.



15 Responses to “Packing up our life in Mumbai”

  1. Wishing both of you all the best, Moving out can be taxing and not getting a job of one’s satisfaction can be taxing.

  2. Maya said

    I know this feeling, Pepper. Even after two years, there are still a dozen more boxes lying at my parents’ place cos we don’t know what to do with them. Hugs hugs. Everything will work out in the end!

    • Pepper said

      Hugs Maya! I’m sure you can relate. I think the only saving grace is that your parents live in Chennai, where the homes are much bigger than our miniscule Mumbai apartments. I hope your parents aren’t as inconvenienced as mine. I should share a picture of my parents living room to put across how tolerant they are of us.

      So do you intend to sort out those boxes some time soon?

  3. The stress of packing, sorting stuff before a move causes more stress than the actual move itself – in my opinion. We have been moving almost every once in 2yrs and the whole task of packing,sorting,discarding – just the decision is still a daunting task.

    Hope things have settled down in California for you.

    • Pepper said

      We’ve been moving every 2 years too. I am hopeful that we will reach a point of nonchalance instead of considering to be a daunting task every time. 🙂

  4. Satori said

    I really wish a miracle had happened and kept you in Mumbai. But it seems as if the Universe is conspiring to move you back to the US and who really can stop that?!!! 🙂 Waiting to read the rest of the story of your move.

    By the way, you probably already know but many of the “packers and movers” in India too (e.g.: Agrawals) have provisions for storage of our household stuff (just like in the US). They do the entire packing too. I just can’t imagine how you managed to wind up your entire house in a short time. This is what I find exhausting about any move and I dread it like crazy!


    • Pepper said

      I do too believe that the Universe planned for us to be in the US. And no matter how much we resist, we are nothing compared to the forces that guide our lives.

      I did check with Agarwal packers but more than packing, the sorting and clearing out our stuff was the bigger task which they couldn’t help us with anyway. Their storage option was not at all cost effective for our stuff. We had no valuables to store, more of things we didn’t know what to do with. If my parents hadn’t agreed to keep them, we would have just distributed it among friends. But spending money on storing those items didn’t make sense.

      I can’t figure out how we managed to wind up and pack up our house in such a short time either. Phew. Glad that is done.

  5. We did the reverse some years back – packed our life from the US and returned to India. We took ultra large garbage bags, threw everything of our US life in it (except the documents and a few sets of clothes we would be waring over the next few days) and left it out in the curb for garbage pick up.
    We packed our books and shipped them back home.
    We boarded the flight with a cabin bag each with all our worldly possessions at the moment. IT made it easier for us to start life afresh back here.
    Just mentioning so that you don’t feel bad about throwing things out. Sometimes its the best thing you can do to start afresh.

    • Pepper said

      If you go back and read this blog, you’ll know that we did the same earlier too. That is, packed up our life in the US and returned to India. For some reason, I still knew in my heart that we will end up back in the US some day. Just as I know in my heart now that we will move to India some day too. When, I don’t know.

      I know what you are saying about throwing things out and feeling liberated. In fact, I try to not collect and hoard stuff from the beginning. Sadly, my husband is such a hoarder. He loves buying things. Sigh.

  6. Uma said

    I can’t imagine the stress of having to wrap everything up and move between continents. I feel what helps us to declutter often is to donate stuff and not emotionally attached to stuff. It is harder said than done. But going through demolition of my in law’s place and rebuilding it and having to throw away stuff from 40 years, we only could think how this stuff might have been of use to someone else instead of letting stuff play with your emotions and let you give them up.

    • Pepper said

      Totally. I love donating stuff too. Although I wish I was a little more organised and distributed our stuff evenly, rather than giving it all away to one person (our maid) because we didn’t have time to look into it.

      Next time will be better, I hope.

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