My husband has been promoted to the next rank and with that has come his posting order. Obviously we are very happy about the promotion but packing and moving is not something that anybody would be thrilled with. The very thought of packing the whole house, I mean every bit of it, scares my wits out of me. I get into tension and start worrying but my husband is as cool as a cucumber. When the posting comes I start fretting around saying ‘oh my God, so much to do’, and he always comes out with ‘why fear when I’m there?’- his favourite dialogue. He’s a really very helpful and responsible person and I know I have nothing to worry. This’ll be my sixteenth move with my husband and his, twentieth.[we got married in his sixth year of service]
It was not always like this. In the first eight to ten years of our marriage I really loved it. It all looked such a lot of fun, moving from place to place and making new friends. It was exciting in those times because we were young and more importantly, had almost akin to nothing to pack except for bare essentials required to run a house hold. But as we grew older in service and age our possessions have increased because with every new posting we would add one or two more boxes [ yes, faujis always pack their stuff in boxes ]. A posting at Deolali means drift wood, carved furniture, rugs and carpets from a Jammu or Srinagar posting, leather goods from Mhow, carved elephants or brass lamps from South, Pipli and philigree work from Orissa, crystalware from Siliguri…the list is like a bottomless well! Before we go to a place we know what we are going to buy there. Living in small colonies we live in our own world and one can find almost similar things in most of the houses. The passion to collect things starts decreasing when the number of boxes increases beyond a certain limit. So, by the time some sense gets into one’s head the house is almost like mini India with all the rooms in the house displaying items from different corners of India snd sometimes curios from other countries also if the officer has had a deputation abroad.
The trouble starts when the time comes to pack these proudly displayed things. Just imagine, the agony of packing each and every item with extra care once in 2-3 years. Now a days people have started calling packers and movers but most people prefer to do it themselves and the family as a whole gets involved. The first question is from where to start. Since all the house hold items go into boxes that are stored in the garage, they have to be brought out first to clean and sun them nicely, and repaint if need be. Then only the actual packing process can start. On an average every officer would be having atleast 30 boxes, some steel and some wooden, with a number assigned to each one of them.
I’ve a diary which has all the details about our boxes– what all items will go into which box, which lock will it have, along with the key number etc.. It takes a lot of patience to make this list first time but subsequently only minor changes need to be made. This diary makes our life so easy because I’ve to just keep it in front of me to know what to put in which box . Of course, with every posting I’ve to make a new one because there’ll always be some addition or deletion in the list and also some locks and keys may become non functional.
A lot of discussion goes on about the things that are hardly used and while packing I wonder ‘oh I’ve this also?’, because we don’t use all the things that we have but still keep carrying it for years. I remember a friend telling me that if a thing is not used for five years it means the time has come to discard it. So, lot of things are kept aside to be discarded because husband dear just says ‘throw it’ when you ask his opinion about a certain thing. But we ladies find it so hard to part with a thing citing some sentiment, that when the time comes for real action[throwing I mean] half the things go back into the box again for next time consideration.:)
The most difficult things to pack are crockery and decorative show pieces, the most delicate ones of all. Each thing has to be packed individually with utmost care and while placing them in the box also, one has to make sure that there are no gaps between them. This packing takes the maximum time and we really feel elated when we are done with them. We never throw any packing material when we buy a thing. It straightaway goes into a box because without that, things get a little difficult when it’s time to pack and move.
It’s a lot of hard work and takes a long time ranging from 15-20 days, if we have time at our disposal. But there are times when we’ve finished it in a week due to shortage of time and in retrospect, I wonder how we did it. When it’s finally done and things are loaded into the truck, one heaves a sigh of relief. But is only temporary because the anxiety remains till the truck reaches its designation safely. Once you get the news that it has, then you are happy, temporarily again….because with that, the process of unpacking and settling down in the new house–opening each and every box, putting things in their places, shortening or lengthening of curtains according to the size of windows and doors, drilling holes in the walls to put up wall hangings and photo frames–oh! it’s another nightmare and a different story to tell.