Thursday, May 28, 2009

Life Starts Anew

What happens when you shift your house? You suffer from a short term memory loss; and in the rarest of the rare cases like mine-you suffer a long term permanent memory loss. The short term memory loss was a family contagious disease that afflicted us for about 4 days and then it got cured by itself. When I say 'us', I include my children who also happen to suffer from selective hearing syndrome at times. When I say 'us', I also include Mahesh, who glared at me everytime I said, “No, I don’t want to throw this away.” When I say 'this,' I mean the art sheet that Rasan had made about 9 years ago. When I say 'art', I mean to say a whole cardboard carton full of sheets colored in myriad shades, variety of styles, and lines and doodles. Phew, as a result, there are two big BIG boxes of this ‘art’ that Mahesh wants to throw away telling the kids, “You can always make new art.” Come on Mahesh, no one can make NEW art, art is art, it stays with you for the rest of your life. If you destroy it, who knows you are destroying a potential Michael Angelo or a Raphael. I will not allow this to happen. I would rather go down in history as a martyr to the cause of saving art and the artist. I must do the saving stint even if it means a big big fight with you. Partly because I know the next axe will fall on my clothes that I simply packed and brought to the new house to give away to people. However, the emotional attachment to these clothes is by far too large for me to give them away. The real secret is that I am living with a vain hope that a few of these fine dresses will finally fit me when I lose weight, in the distant future. W-h-e-n I do. I-f I do. Hope sustains life after all. But I better start giving these clothes away in the really Buddhist style of detachment, otherwise I will end up stacking every box and cupboard with my clothes.

When Mahesh said, “ Look lady, I have only 5 pairs of shoes and you got 36," I was not in the least ashamed. I was actually grossly offended like hell when he said throw all but 5 away. Are you kidding Mahesh? I need them all. I will wear them even if i have to wear them one upon the other. For sure I would. I simply onioned* myself to develop the symptoms of selective hearing and swiftly walked away from the offending words.

Coming back to STML-short term memory loss. Everytime we opened a box, we started to keep the stuff at the right places-only in the middle of the journey to the ‘right’ place , we forgot where we were going and why. Five zombie like creatures - (Mahesh, my mother, Rasan, Jai, Mampi )still managed to give a shape to the new house-and in the middle of the STML also managed to laugh out loud at the one who came saying, “Yaar, where was I going? Where did I place xyz?” The zombie situation came full circle on Friday last when Mahesh and my mother - after I lay dead in the bed with rough feet and dry hands-spent a whole night in moving furniture and shifting stuff. Moving as in moving things physically. Thank God I am a heavy weight otherwise I would have woken up with my bed shifted under the mango tree in the courtyard. The most interesting part is that they would stand still when I would sleep walk and sleep talk asking them what were they doing moving about at that god-forsaken hour. They would grin and pat me back to sleep. In the morning, I would have believed I was in a dream if I had not seen the furniture moved to strange corners.

Enough about the people-here is something about the house. This government accommodation came into existence sometime between 1920 and 1947. Yes, I am the unofficial restorer and caretaker of the heritage buildings of the Punjab. Only they do not offer me any honorarium, rather I have to spend from my own pocket to indulge myself in maintaining it. Okay, not my pocket, but Mahesh’s. However, doesn't gurbani proclaim us Ek Jot doye moorti (We are one in soul though two physically)? Therefore his pocket is my pocket after all-especially when I put my hand in the pocket and come up with crisp new notes of 1000 bucks. We had to spend on getting the big watertank of 300 litres replaced with a bigger 1000 litre ; a flush system had to be put in place – for there was none. The previous occupants made do with throwing bucketfuls of water in the pot after potty. As an aside, I wonder how do you save enough energy to do this exercise after a good session on the pot? Even the kitchen supported the old Indian style of sitting on the floor and doing the dishes. My thundering thighs would have been strengthened to rocky hardness if I had to do dishes like that. The primitive style has now been replaced by a stainless steel sink. The taps that had forgotten to deliver water are now gracefully throwing out water. The quantity of junk thrown out of the stores would have put a good junk dealer into thought and would have made me richer if only the departmental policies had not required me to procedurally write them off and sell them to fill the governmental coffers.

For now, we have settled in the house. The house has settled down on us, I mean it has gotten used to us. We do not have an AC, nor a good old khus-cooler, but the mad May heat has not gotten us down yet. The high ceilings, the 18" thick walls with lime plaster, the cross ventilating windows and doors are a bliss. And also thanks to the loads of vegetation around us, we are enjoying almost sylvan surroundings. Soon we will make the house more livable and then I will probably post some pictures also. This was primarily the reason why I had disappeared from the blogworld.

*little boys (never heard of any girls doing it) in Punjab keep a peeled and raw onion under their armpit to induce fever-so that they don’t have to go to school. (there is no such word as onioning, but then who says we cannot make new words?)


Anonymous said...

Lolz-the best bit was 'His pocket is my pocket'-spoken like a true woman!
The situation does seem to be apalling...You have still not got the AC? Man, oh man...Its been a month when I heard you talking to that peon about the AC...govt work!(sic)
Another bit I liked was about the washing utensils thing...lolz. You are funny:) Please do save the's precious. The smile on your faces (after so many years of keeping them) would be worth it..

Life Begins said...

Great. Welcome back again M! I am so glad you are back in action - by action i mean typing :) :)

Wonderful summary for all these months of vanishing act.

Oreen said...

awesome, awesome... what a comeback...and all these gender differences of shifting house are so universally applicable...

in fact, it's good you saved the boxes full of art... my dad still has mine saved from 35 years back!

glad to see you come back with a bang. there was no short or long term loss of humor as far as I can see...

Devaki said...

Each and every line here had me smiling... which one do I comment on now? :) So let me just say it's so good to have you back Manpreet!

Imp's Mom said...

The real secret is that I am living with a vain hope that a few of these fine dresses will finally fit me when I lose weight, in the distant future. W-h-e-n I do. I-f I do. Hope sustains life after all. But I better start giving these clothes away in the really Buddhist style of detachment, otherwise I will end up stacking every box and cupboard with my clothes.ahhhh... hope what would we do without it! My cupboard is full of clothes that do not fit me and has me in hope that one of these days I will... man... BF really helped loose weight, back pain be darned!

Am so glad ur back... and awfully sweet of u commenting on my old posts :-)

Iya said...

i am having a good laugh imagining 5 zombies going around in the house with things to place!!!
but yes shifting is not easy, but new places are surely fun...
glad u have settled down..
now i am waiting for pictures of this old heritage house which sounds very interesting!!

Iya said...

and needless to say, lovely post in la mampi style!!

Monika said...

good to see u back girl and now dont vanish again :)

BTW i moved

Sidhusaaheb said...

Those kinds of houses are excellent!

Mango tree in the courtyard? Wow!

BTW, even I tend to hold on to a lot of junk.


Atul Vishwanathan said...

the onion thing... kids in Bangalore used to do it when i first came to the city.. that was 1989... so i guess it's after all a pan-Indian trick? ha ha.. believe it or not, it works!

How do we know said...

wow.. am totally impressed with this update on your life!! You have, as usual, managed to make it super duper!!

But more than anythign else, am just so glad to have u back in the blogging world.. thank god!!

Mampi said...

Mithe-AC has not got anything to do with the sarkari system. The load is to be increased. THat is where the sarkari system shows me the colors.

LifeBegins-Typing-what an action. I thought you meant the post. Heheh, I been typing in chatting with you, havent i?

Oreen-Thanks for reinforcing my belief that art can be saved. Humor-ah, my heels have cracked.- perhaps with humor??

Devaki-Thank you my dear. I am glad to be back.

Imp's Mom-weight ought to be lost, whether in reality or in the hope. We will, inshallah, we will.

Iya-I will even post a video. Give me some time. Glad you liked the zombie stuff.

Monika-I wont vanish. BLogrolled you on your new address. Its awesome-the look and the content.

SS-M is trying to see to it that I discard whatever I can. He makes sure I sleep early so he can throw things away while I am sleeping.

Atul-It does? I have toyed with the idea of making it work, but then the icky smell puts me off. Yours is a nice and purposeful blog. Guess I would blogroll you.

HDWK-Thanks for your emails my dear. That you missed me around was enough to stage this comeback.

Veena said...


First thanks for visiting my blog .. I am honoured :) .. just joking.. thanks anyways.. :)

And secondly, settle down soon in the new house :)

Sneha Divakar said...

ha ha.. nice one! i love the part where your 36 pairs v/s his 5 pairs

Anonymous said... shifting is probably the worst torture you can inflict on urself. In my 25 years in India, we shifted home only once. From a rented one to our own place.

Here in S'pore i have shifted 6 homes in 8 years. Now, beat that.

Good to see that at least you didnt end up with a back sprain after all the heavy lifting ;)


Welcome back...
very very nice post...

Usha Pisharody said...

That was an entertaining review of house shifting :P! Though I am sure the real thing was anything but... :)

Lol@The real secret is that I am living with a vain hope that a few of these fine dresses will finally fit me when I lose weight, in the distant future. W-h-e-n I do. I-f I do. Hope sustains life after all. But I better start giving these clothes away in the really Buddhist style of detachment, otherwise I will end up stacking every box and cupboard with my clothes.


Therefore his pocket is my pocket after all-especially when I put my hand in the pocket and come up with crisp new notes of 1000 bucks.

Spoken like a true woman :) :) :)

Hope you settle in real fine, too :) Wishes :)

roop said...

"My thundering thighs would have been strengthened to rocky hardness if I had to do dishes like that." made me laugh soooooooooo hard! hahaha :D

and please save the art!!!! Throw in my vote for saving it too pliss. I regret throwing away mine. So many times, I've wanted to go back in time and bring it back ... but it's gone!! :( Pliss no throw it!!

maheshinder_singh said...

The way you tend to retain the old things and the passion you show for them ,sometimes makes me feel as if I have become a total 'matter of fact' type man. Somehow inwardly I do appreciate the way you cling to the 'art' made by kids.Good to see you on the blog/post after so long.

Ashwani Saini said...

...another gr8 post, the issues which you raised with your TM humour are so universal!
I am also posed with 'preserving the artwork' dilemma at times, taking solace in preserving the digital image of the 'artworks'.
..and yes,thanks a lot for the comments on my blog.
..a friend is mesmerised by the sufi music on your blog,on browsing through my fav's..

Mampi said...

Veena veena veena-Its Mampi Mampi - you make me feel like i m some place called Memphis. Hehe.

Sneha-Yeah, he is jealous. Isnt he?

Philip-There was only shifting and a little bit of my own load shedding. I did not have to lift any loads.


Usha-Yeah, we are almost settled down.

Roop-Yes, I am going to have a signed petition to be allowed to preserve all these sheets. You have seen a lot of them at my place, havent you?

Mahesh-So you dont mind, right?

Friends, be my witnesses. He is confessing that it is good to see me cling to the stuff. I promise I wont overdo, but lets not throw kids stuff away, ok?

Ashwani-Glad to know I am not alone in the preserving crusade. Yes, I also try to save the digitized versions but real versions nu suttan di himmat nahi paindi.
yes, I proudly noted that comment by anonymous on your blog about music on my blog.

Jasdeep said...

:) Nice you preserve art and old buildings...
hail you environment conversationalist..
humorous post, glad you are back

vandana said...

I also like to move all the things from one house to other even if it is a broken table ..maybe we will get it repaierd and leaving clothes out is just unthinkable ...I still have dresses which I bought/moved thinking I will fit in them someday ..though scales just say it is becoming more and more impossible day by day

Rajindarjit said...

Welcome back.
It sounds good that you are on the track now.
Friday episode is an interesting one, which makes me laugh often when I recall.
At last Art Work of kids is saved, thank God.It will encourage them to excel with more zeal.
Nice posting. Keep it up!

Phoenixritu said...

LOL, I shifted twice in the span of 24 months last year. Made not a whit of difference to my thunder thighs and my heavy hips. Rough skin normalizes, cracked heels heal. Brain cells die, but fat cells go on forever.

Never mind, in my own perception I am size zero and so are all my friends.

UL said...

oh Mampi - you rock, I laughed so hard, now I am in tears(onioning - used in different context, loved the word, patent it will you), I missed coming out to read your tales, in a way I have been hiding -life so busy...i loved your STML - I would do the same if my partner told me to keep only 5 shoes!! Five!! I am offended, what were you thinking Mahesh? :) As for thundering thighs, oh boy, there's no comparison...loved it loved it, keep writing...and why dont you follow my name into a place where I hide less, not as much creativity as typing Away, but a little more personal...boring stuff :)

Sneha Divakar said...

yeah! i shall support the cause. you guys will definitely cherish the kids stuff many many years later

Salil said...

That was excellently narrated and brought a smile to my face.
But I am with Mahesh on the art, clothes and shoes. My theory is if you have not used something in 6 months, then it is of no use to you. You can always buy a new one, if sometime in future you need one.
Good to see you back in full form.
Keep them coming.

Indian Homemaker said...

I have shifted err...14 times (not counting any stays of less six months) and still managed to keep all my old clothes and the kids' first paintings..

Love a house that can stay cool without AC or coolers. These old houses with thick walls and high ceilings are such joy :) love ventilators towards the ceilings in such houses!! Do you really have err how many pairs of shoes?

Sucharita Sarkar said...

Glad to have you back after the house-shifting hiatus. Enjoyed your anecdote-filled post immensely, and thanks for your comments on my blog, and the mail on Presidency College.

You are one lucky lady, livng n such an interesting home. I'd swap my functional flat for such a possibility-filled home anyday.

Hip Grandma said...

come let's shake hands.i am stating on the task you've just accomplished and the thankless job of packing and moving seems to have no end.i am glad to have left my hubs in india.he's the one who'd scream over the luggage as if he has to carry it on his like a 'lalchi' plans to carry baby clothes to needy children in IndiaNo shopping or gifts for family this time.Lucky you to live in a house that remains cool in May.These days we have 5 floors where earlier used to be 3.

Mampi said...

Jasdeep-They call me preservative, hehe, or preserver, or whatever...

Vandana-So, I am not alone, thank God.

Mama-You have been wicked in supporting him.

Ritu-Yup, I see myself in the mirror and often wonder why didnt i go to Bollywood, hehe.

UL-which link do u want me to follow to reach you where you hide lesser often?

Sneha-Thanks for your support my dear. I need all the votes I can get.

Salil-Thanks, you liked it. Well I also believe in the same funda that if you have not used something for a short while, chances are you do not need it. But then some things have senti-menti value. A wedding dress, for example.

IHM-you are an epoch marking girl anyway-so you rock in shifting too. Hehe. yeah this house is good. Only this morning, i have had to dust it twice.

Sucharita-Yeah, and your posts on Past continuous are so close to a house like this. I am glad my kids will also have such memories to cherish in today's times when kids their age are living in new modern houses and flats.

HipGrandma-its a good thing you are laalchi for a good cause. Bring the stuff over, there will be plenty takers.

Pinku said...

Message for manmehesh:

will u be gracious enough to invite me over or should i just come down one of these days??

Choice is in your hands...

have seen the amount of stuff u can understand why Mahesh got miffed.

but do understand ur sentiments too...

Manasa said...

"W-h-e-n I do. I-f I do"
LOL.. like you, even I've retained many of the dresses dreaming that I will reduce someday :D

Hope you're enjoying you're new house ;)

Gurinderjit Singh said...

Good one and making me laugh ...some how your pick of words and phrases have ability to paint a picture without a paintbrush and paint wala dubba...

Devika said...

Interesting read, in form :)

"I simply onioned* myself to develop the symptoms of selective hearing."

we are similar there :)
and the other onioning...i have done it while in school! it works! :)


Sudhir Khandelwal said...

Mampi, I have normally maintained that shifting the house or getting it whitewashed is an opportunity to get rid of your junk; but then who defines what is junk? The beauty of art is in the eyes of beholder, isn't it! Making a government accommodation liveable is not a mean achievement, great you have done that. Wishing you Happy
Days in your new abode.