Retired, but still not settled

Retired, but still not settled

A moving tale

We were veterans at relocating. Since my husband was in the armed forces, we had shifted lock, stock, and barrel several times in a span of 30 years.

We were young then, and moving with our earthly belongings in steel trunks, wooden boxes and old leather suitcases (growing in number), and our precious sons growing up with every posting were exciting. Every move involved travelling to a new destination, and the household things would arrive later by a truck or a railway wagon called EVK.

Relocating was tough but interesting. As a matter of fact, we, as a family, felt like we were embarking on an adventure. The imagination of the boys ran riot, picking up new pranks and jokes, and that sure added a lot of fun. Their demands on the food front grew exponentially with their age. They would appear at the door at six in the evening with deep gashes to be sutured, major bruises to be washed and tended to. Stomach upsets and sudden bouts of fever at midnight in the new environ added a lot of thrills. It all happened so long ago and now, perhaps, I feel relocating was fun, as I have forgotten the pains and problems associated with it.

Years rolled by. My husband had to hang up the uniform at the age of 55. We were looking forward to settling down in Bengaluru in our permanent home, a modest apartment in the company of retired service officers. But very soon, we realised that there was nothing permanent in life. Circumstances forced us to move again, to Chennai this time.

The nestlings had flown the nest and it was just the two of us who had to plan the move. We had the enthusiasm and energy to pack and shift. More than anything we were eager to undergo the experience of shifting with the help of professional movers and packers for the first time.

Off to Chennai we went.

In Chennai, it was an independent house with more rooms. Naturally, the extra space had to be filled with more cots, chairs, side tables, shelves, wall hangings, a/c units, pedestal fans, mattresses, curtains, pails, and knick-knacks. It took a dozen years to do all that. Then came the deluge of Chennai in December 2015, submerging and soaking our possessions of 50 years. The savings of a lifetime got washed out, most of them becoming irretrievable.

"Move out of there. The house is too close to the river," cried the children from across the Atlantic. They were worried about our safety. It was back to Bengaluru.

We had to downsize and move into our 2 BHK apartment. Before that, we had to renovate the place. It appeared to be a mission impossible for the old couple. Relentlessly we pursued our goal. We shunted between the two cities half a dozen times. We could move from city to city, but moving inside the city, inching our way through Bengaluru's roads seemed literally an uphill task.

The good old neighbours came to our rescue whenever we were in trouble. We were stuck with masons, electricians, plumbers, painters and carpenters walking in and out. The smell of varnish and paints hovered around us like deodorants. We managed only because of the support from our loving neighbours.

Then came the actual packing, in Chennai. The two pairs of hands that did a lot of hardwork earlier had lost all the strength. And much to our surprise, we found even the empty nests collected a lot of junk. Cleaning and discarding was a task. Packers and movers generally bubble-wrapped or quilted anything which was lying around. Whether it was a bottle of Horlicks or a half-full toilet cleaning liquid, brooms, books and bedsheets, they stuffed them all together into cartons, crates or plastic bins, nailed and sealed them. They did it professionally, no doubt, but sorting out was not their job. 

We had to make one more trip to Bengaluru by road. The movers were there to receive us and unload the goods. They dumped the entire stuff unwrapped in a matter of hours. We stood there in the midst, not knowing where to start and how to finish. It took days to figure out where to keep what in the house.

We had to change the address, change the cards of sorts, change the bank, change the car or change the registration. Thanks to demonetisation, the trips to banks and ATMs became an everyday programme for my senior spouse. The drill is on still. In short, starting life from scratch. Exciting indeed. Perhaps a few years from now, we will look back with indulgence and the difficulties will seem like adventures. 


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