So many have asked me “How do you manage to move so often?” that I decided I’d write it down so that I would find the answers too.
Newton taught us that all physical objects resist change and as humble beings we are no different. So the first phase in any move is always the denial phase. “Thou shalt not move”, is what I rant for the first week. Thankfully I have a husband who thinks differently than what I do and that always helps in getting a new perspective. And he has a knack of convincing me… always!
The second phase is the pandemonium phase when there’s utter chaos in the brain. It’s hard when you have to move. It’s harder when you have to move across countries and continents and it’s still harder when you have to with your children. But the hardest part happens right here in our brains. Should we move? Should we not move? Should my husband move and we not move? Should we move, but later? Should I leave my job (again)? I hate that period of my life – my mind is working overtime and there is constant pressure that you make the right decision for yourself and for your children. It is at these times that I wish I could be a child again when mom and dad could take all the decisions for you. Thankfully my parents, in-laws and lovely friend Ketaki are always ready to hear me out and give their honest opinion.
In the end, our judgment is always based on the answer to the very simple question “Are you ready to stay away from each other for a year or more?” (Again Ketaki, thanks for asking it). Since that is never a yes, the decision is made. For a large part of my young age my dad worked in a different city and came home only on Sunday. And we all missed him a lot during the week. That desire to keep the family together is probably what keeps us moving - TOGETHER. 5 years from now if we have to move again maybe things will be different; kids would have grown older, become more independent, and schooling would be a big question. But let’s cross that bridge when we reach there.
So once the decision is made, the third phase is actually one that I love – the planning and execution phase. My rational is if you know you have to do something, the best thing to do is to do it with a smile with all your energy. Friends who know me know my fetish for lists. That’s how it always starts. Different lists – To do lists, Shopping lists, ‘things to trash’ lists, “restaurants to go to before leaving” lists. The more you move the more of an expert you become. You know for example that it’s not worth packing up all your plastic boxes since you’ll get much better and cheaper sets in IKEA for much less. You know there’s no point keeping back any kids clothes because by the time you come back they’ll have outgrown them. You know it makes sense to carry all your ‘flat bottom’ stainless steel utensils since those are expensive in the US. You know you need to carry small pouches of chilly powder, turmeric, mustard seeds and jeera since you are not going to search for an Indian store on day one. You know how to prioritize and select what goes in each bag. You know exactly how many sets of clothing go in your cabin bag. (Deja vu – Kapil spilling orange juice thrice on his shirt on the Mumbai- NJ flight. Yes this time it would be different - the flight would be to LA. The rest is going to be the same!)
The last phase is the landing phase. Since my hubby goes first and we join later, he takes care of renting the apartment and buying the car. Craigslist – Jai ho. The Asleys and LazyBoys are not for us nomads. By the time we reach, most of the house is set. Then all that needs to be done is school admissions which when we move to the US, are done the day after we reach. See, it’s not that hard!
Plus there are some amazing benefits:
- You get the best of both the worlds. We never get India-sick or US-sick. By the time we start missing India we move J and vice versa.
- You get to travel a lot and see new places. It’s like a paid vacation every time.
- The kids learn much more than what they would in one location - of course it needs a lot of effort (see previous blog) but in the end they emerge far more enriched – academically as well as culturally. My kids speak fluent Marathi (with the Puneri thaska) and fluent English (with the American accent). Last time we moved my daughter picked up the accent in 1 month. This time she was ‘hash-phushing’ in 2 days.
- You make many new friends every year. (God has been kind; we have always been blessed with wonderful friends wherever we went.) The tough part of course is parting from them when it’s time to move on.
- You become more adjusting with a don’t-care attitude. You don’t care if you have to sleep on the carpet or the futon. You don’t care if your kitchen drawers don’t have PerlPets lined up but emptied Yogurt containers. You don’t care if you have just two sets of shoes – wait, no. That I care. J
- You become an optimist. After my first move I would not have thought of all the points above. You start to believe that there is a good in everything that happens and the belief helps make your dreams come true.