In the first of our four-part series on everything you need to know about moving, columnist and serial home-changer Arun Janardhan gives us some tips - plan in advance, don’t tempt fate by marking any boxes as ‘precious’ and don’t mix up the keys
Twice in my life, I have moved houses under pouring rain. The first was as a teenager, when shifting from Calcutta to Bangalore with the family, carrying boxes down from the third to the ground floor, which was filled with water up to the waist. The second time was in Mumbai, moving from Andheri to Kandivli, as a single man. With water above knee level on the ground floor, carrying my meagre 2-3 belongings on my head to an auto-rickshaw that was charging my monthly salary for that ride.
Having moved homes over 30 times, I have garnered some experience of the process. You learn over the years the benefits of minimalism that makes your home more aesthetic and practical, and how packing and unpacking a house is the best time to get rid of excess baggage—in more ways than one. As is commonly said, whether you move into a flat or a condo, always remember Marie Kondo.
Pack Like a Pro
Before packers and movers evolved into the professional set we have now, people like me did everything on our own. We emptied cupboards and lofts, chucked whatever we had not seen or used in over a year and marvelled at discoveries (my long-lost ping-pong racquet or when did I put this apple behind the brass lamps?).
The objects that were to be transferred to the new abode were shoved into packing boxes and labelled with marker pens. ‘Clothes’. ‘Books’. ‘Can’t decide’. ‘Miscellaneous’—till a few years ago when excessive use of MS Word made me forget how to spell miscellaneous and I went with ‘Whatever’. That helped in the new place, so boxes could go into appropriate rooms and, if you lived in cramped Mumbai, the appropriate corner.
Nothing would be marked ‘precious’ or ‘jewellery’ or ‘This costs Rs1 lakh’ because that is just tempting fate. Every box would have clothes as packing material, to line the sides and bottom along with plastic sheets in case it rains while moving.
You Are An Optimist When It's Half Empty
When you hire a professional packer to do the job, you have to brace yourself for damages, losses and chaos. Its just part of the deal—like gas after eating rajma. If you have a car, load it with valuables and carry things yourself, thus minimising heartbreak. Just look at the bright side—packing and lifting is good for the forearms and glutes.
The most exciting part of the move, for me, has always been the unpacking, because it marks an end to the move. You fill the cupboards and lofts neatly, chuck whatever you had not used in over a year and marvel at discoveries (Oh, I didn’t know I owned a dumbbell… Whose baby is this?).
You stake your ownership of the new home, create zones and give them their own energy with your belongings. It’s similar to marking your territory, without the lamppost. It gives you an opportunity to experiment with your living space, make it exactly the same or completely different to the previous one. It’s easier to do now because you have marked your boxes, so you can tell the mover exactly where each set goes—except for the one marked ‘miscelanous’, ‘misellanes’, ‘whatever’ which can lie in the kitchen till you move again.
Keep It Simple
When I meet people who find the process of moving stressful, I snigger softly, because of my experience. I tell them that it’s all in your control and a little bit in the hands of the mover Makarand who will only drop the box marked ‘crockery’. I have, therefore, some simple advice for people about to get on this arduous journey.
Start planning the move as soon as you can. Don’t procrastinate—find the packer and mover quickly, even though he would inevitably arrive four hours late on D-Day. Make lists, of everything that needs to be done, including informing the paper delivery, changing your address on Scootsy and finally having that tough talk with Muscle Mukesh who parked in your spot three years ago. Visualise how your new home will look like fully furnished—it adds to the excitement. Work in bits and pieces—that adds less pressure towards the end and gives you a sense of accomplishment on a daily basis.
Every house that I have moved out of, I have left behind not just memories, but one thing that’s dear to me. It’s like a gift for the person who comes next, my attempt at good karma. This also adds to that feeling of sadness and joy, which comes with moving. Only once did I leave something by error—my Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King DVD. Fortunately, a friend had moved in my place and I could replace that DVD with a copy of the book, Belly Diet Planner.
We lost touch soon after.
Mumbai-based Arun Janardhan is an independent writer-editor who writes on lifestyle, personalities and sports. He has lived in over 30 houses across seven cities.