The Grass is Greener

So we’ve moved house. This time the strain of moving got to me a little. Either I’m ageing, or we simply have too much stuff. Fitting things into a smaller house poses a challenge even for the puzzle-inclined type like me. Thankfully I have Souvik and Rofa to do the heavy lifting and cleaning up. We’ve tried our best to make the house look pretty – there was a lot of pushing and shoving, and the kitchen had to be organised 3 times before it met my workflow requirements. Getting the bulky sofas out of the door and putting in the compact furniture was a lot like giving birth, with loads of moaning and groaning. The best part of the house is the outdoors; not for nothing is this complex called The Green. It really is.

At the first opportunity I invited my fellow photo walkers (only one made it), and we had a jolly walk in the peak of the hot day. In addition to the welcome greenery, there’s some bizarre er…. sculptures to keep you interested. It being Friday, all the women working in maintenance had gathered together for the Friday prayers and meal. The kids, as usual, were ever willing to pose.

Yeah, living here is turning out to be entertaining!


Ode to Homes

For someone who craves variety, I get plenty packing and moving. The number of times we’ve moved seems like we don’t pay our bills anywhere, and have to make a run for it! Consequently it’s rare for me to get nostalgic about any place, though there are plenty of anecdotes about each one.

kholiTake my ‘kholi’ – a poky little room at Warden Road in Mumbai. I can’t remember if it had a wardrobe, but there was a horribly dusty attic, and to enter the room, you had to jump in about a foot deep at the door. The location was the best part about that room – close to work, close to the seaside, the fanciest shops in all of Mumbai, some lovely walking parks, but I had to fight over the use of the phone line with the neighbouring electronic repair shop.

House hunting in Mumbai after we were married was quite a challenge, since we had very little money and seemingly different priorities. I wanted the apartment in the building with the pool, but Souvik refused to live there because it was called Mota Nagar (Mota = fat). After some desperate searches, we settled down at Amboli Naka, right at the traffic junction, a spot that we both hated; every time the light turned green, all vehicles blared their horns. There was little to recommend that place except that we could afford it. After that disaster, we got on a continuous improvement curve, thanks to our careers and the 11-month lease agreements.


Paranjpe Complex at Vile Parle


Moving to Bangalore was a breath of fresh air. Apartment buildings were swanky shiny, compared to whatever we had seen in Mumbai. Koramangala was the nicest place to live. There are mixed memories of our apartment there. Souvik’s dad battled with his illness there, and sadly lost. We packed up and moved to Chennai.

Diwali at Purva Park-3

Purva Park, Cox Town

Raheja Residency-2

Raheja Residency, Koramangala

MKaka & Varun at home

Gandhinagar 3rd Main, Adyar

So many people complain about Chennai, but we had one of our best years there. Living in Adyar, there was my weekend schedule of grocery shopping at Besant Nagar, brunch at Murugan Idli, coffee and a book at the Barista on the beach. Alternately, driving off to Mahabalipuram and Pondicherry at the drop of a hat. Hanging about the house as little as possible.



Our own place in Bangalore



By this time we had invested in buying an apartment of our own in Bangalore, and ironically that is the one in which I have spent the least time (1 night) calling home. Back in Mumbai, we had a jolly ride over 3 years. Dosti Acres – tiny flat, massive furniture that I had to move around like a jigsaw puzzle to make it fit. My cousin got married there, well, across from there. Moving from Wadala to Pump House (yes, that’s what the area is called) and Kalpataru at JVLR because of, you guessed it, the 11-month lease. And just as I was ready to renew my lease at Kalpataru (gasp!), we took the call to shift to Hanoi.


Dosti, Wadala


Cousins at Kalpataru


Ciputra Window, Hanoi

We were blissful enough in our Hanoi place for Souvik to make a crazy video of it. I spent hours looking out of the big window, blogging about my life there. Then we realised what a jinx we had with lease renewal. Every time we signed that paper, we would have to move. This time to Ho Chi Minh City. That year I spent half the year looking at houses. As we were about to finalise the flat there, we ended up moving to Jakarta instead.

(Click to view video)


I went into an ‘instant hate’ mode with the city. Endless traffic, horrid apartments where windows wouldn’t open, big palatial houses that seemed like to much work for an apartment-inured person that I was. After sound advice from a friend, we settled on the house that we’re in now. Finally there was some love, especially with the pool in the backyard. The house was too big for just the two of us to enjoy, we were happy to open it up to welcome family and friends. And plenty obliged. Not that they were lacking in our ‘smaller’ places, but the joy of jumping into the pool at will is irresistible. We renewed our 2-year lease last November. And guess what – we’re moving again! Right this very week. And this time the nostalgia seems to be coming on, mostly for that backyard and pool. Never have I enjoyed a house (not counting Kolhapur) as much as I did this one. Watching the rain in the afternoon. Barbecue on weekends. Painting the wall. Sewing curtains. Killing off plants one after the other. Negotiating banjir, the floods after a heavy downpour. Jalan Tikus, the tiny lane shortcut to the main road. Decorating at Diwali. Chasing Mia.


In the midst of packing chaos, I’m letting the shifting blues set in, but visualising living in the new place. The landscaping is definitely better, with plenty of tree lined avenues to walk, run and cycle. Actually, with a lot of our ‘stuff’ packed already in round 1 by those efficient packers, I’m in the mood to get going right away. Going by the lethargy I’m exhibiting though, it’s clear that I enjoy unpacking and setting up house, but sorting and packing is just not my favourite thing. HELP!

My top tips for painless relocation:

  1. Hire a good packer-mover service. That’s money well spent.
  2. Pack a week’s clothes, towels, toiletries, shoes, bedsheets separately yourself. If it takes time for the washing machine to be installed, you’re not going crazy. If you’re moving cities, make that 2-week supply. That should give you enough time to figure out the laundry.
  3. Pack VALUABLES (jewellery, electronic gadgets – phones, laptop, tablet, chargers,cameras, power adaptors,  important documents – passport, tickets, IDs, insurance policies, bank papers, house papers) and MEDICINES yourself, and don’t let that bag out of your sight until you have set up the new house. If you are moving cities, carry your valuables in cabin baggage.
  4. It’s useful to wear something (like a jacket) with plenty of pockets to hold small stuff like keys, phone, pens, wallet, so you don’t put it down and accidentally have it packed up, or worse, stolen.
  5. If you’re moving country, make sure to finish or give away all the beverages – yeah, have a big booze party the night before. Spillage in the suitcase is such a pain.
  6. If you’re an Indian like me, take your pressure cooker with you.
  7. Keep calm and enjoy the change!







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Something Old, Something New


After the blue-door-painting project, the corner window needed some nice curtains, not those synthetic shower-curtain lookalikes that came with the house. So on my last trip to Delhi I begged Ma to part with some of her vintage sarees for this noble cause ;-), and came away with an armful. Still, they rested at the bottom of the cupboard while I took my time, half-heartedly looking for a tailor who could make curtains, then almost bought a sewing machine to DIM (do it myself), almost because I decided on a cheap handheld machine which is apparently not available anywhere. Finally, the makeover itch got the better of me – why not use those God-given tools, and some long-forgotten skills of hemming and hawing? The saree length was just right, and the ‘fall’ made great loops.

This was the outcome:






Project: Front Door

I’ve had the itch to paint the front door ever since we moved in. As soon as the dry season set in, I rushed off to Ace Hardware for tools, and got started.

Prachi & Siddharth insisted that the scraped off ‘distressed’ look was quite the thing, but that wouldn’t cure the ‘itch’, right?

After dragging the project over a couple of weeks, I put in a final burst of energy yesterday, and got it over with. Here’s the final outcome:


Need a new project now. Shall I settle for some travel?

The fall of the wall

Woke up this morning to a scary sight:

No no, we aren’t in Libya or Syria – this is just a chunk of the ceiling that fell down. As I write, the men are fixing it, but it made a loud crashing noise when it fell, and got me thinking – it’s so common for people to be possessive about things, but does it work the other way round too? Like, we loved our red Fiat Palio, but when the new Honda City came home, the Palio went into a sulk and gave Souvik some tough times. Now we’ve lived in this house for almost 2 years and all was well, but just around the time we look for apartments in Saigon, this house is angry at us?????