Tuesday, August 29, 2006

A long long way from home

V & I are noticing women in Indian clothes roaming around central London with far greater frequency than before (as in there are more such women than before, NOT we are suddenly becoming more observant - we are very observant thank you very much) . And these are not just salwar kameez and saree aunties who have come to look after their children/ grand-children. These are bona fide tourists. Backpacks, cameras and sneakers. All the way from India.

I know this is not new. Once upon a time I worked in the tourism industry in India. Till that year traveling abroad on holiday was the pleasure of the rich and well heeled. Let's be brutally honest, you needed black money and loads of it. Alternately you could travel in a huge group,with mummyji's, auntyji's and uncleji's, a busload full, whizzing around Europe with a maharaj cooking all your Indian food as you took in the sights in double quicktime. (No point trying out any new cuisine as god forbid we bite into a forbidden onion or eat on dishes once used to eat meat). That year foreign currency regulations changed and because people could take more money legally with them they were able to consider holidaying abroad with just their own families. My job became the most interesting one of all time. I got to travel around the world, negotiate and create individual holidays for every category of holiday maker from the 3 star wanderers to the super-deluxe craving few. Initially it was a steep increase and as the years have gone by the number of Indians on holiday has steadily continued to grow. It’s amazing what a good exchange rate, a higher disposable income, a competitive holiday market and a world of destinations brought closer by new age travel can and will do.

Yesterday I was sitting near a Manhattan-style tube station, reading the Times, enjoying the odd breaks of sunshine through the quick marching clouds, while waiting for friends to turn up for lunch. An Indian, with his bag on his back and his camera slung around his neck came up and very politely asked for directions to the DLR station. While he made his enquiries his family stood behind and discussed possible routes amongst themselves. A mother draped in the most beautiful Chaderi saree, a father in his neatly pressed trousers and shirt, a wife in salwar kameez – all with appropriate walking shoes. Instructions taken, map consulted and they were off. Explorers of the best kind.

London in the summer is a lovely place to be a tourist. There is an efficient (for the most part) tube system that connects you from one corner of the city to the other. There is an award winning tube map that shows direction and stations clearer than a bright blue sky. The Tube station staff are friendly and helpful. There is a wonderful bus system (at least for central London) that will take you the short distances. And there are so many touristy things to see including five world class museums: National Gallery, Victoria and Albert, Tate Modern, Natural History Museum, British Museum. Small cafe's to buy an innocent cheese sandwich and cola from. There are also a huge number of desi's like me who live here and know the city well enough to guide a lost person. Being of the same colour makes us more approachable.

I don’t want to sound like a blurb for the London Tourism Board but I am glad that more and more Indians are shrugging the fear of traveling abroad and venturing to newer and further sights. I like that there are more people who look like me and will smile back at me as I make my tube journey across town. People who, in that moment, across the aisle in the tube carriage, are wondering where in India I am from, while I wonder where they are from and whether we can prove the six degrees of seperation and find people we know in common back in just six short steps. Just the sight of beautiful intricate saree's will bring a little bit of India into this sometimes parched life. Living so far away from my original home this brings me just a small smidgeon of comfort, for just a second. Till the odd person leaves their litter behind and I remember one of many reasons why I think people should be given a litter 'black star' on their visa/passport for the next time they plan to visit. Three strikes and you're out.

I'm glad people are taking these chances to explore the world beyond their own backyards. While I agree that there is so much to see in India, I am adamant that it's beauty would be enhanced by the experience of having travelled abroad and having something to compare it with. I’m glad that we too have the capability to take holidays, short and long, to appreciate other cultures and cuisines, to see other landscapes and ways of life. I’m glad the world is a smaller place.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Dining tables, exercycles and gyms - all good for round people

Where have all the long lazy weekends gone? This house settling in is taking up way too much of my time and energy to be believed.

There was a time when I would wake up on a Saturday morning, peer at my mobile phone clock digits through one eye, be shocked that it was 7am and that my bloody body alarm had kicked in 5 days too late, and promptly curl myself deeper into the duvet, promptly shut that one eye and go straight back to sleep. And be asleep within an instant, till noon at least. I can no longer remember the last time I accomplished this feat.

Now my Saturdays have taken quite a different shape. And I do not like it.

As with all recent weekends this was a busy one. Furniture delivery in the morning – a four drawer, four door reclaimed teak sideboard and one round teak dining table to go with the chairs that arrive 2 weeks ago. The sideboard weighs in at over 100kgs and looks solid. I can almost imagine what those teak trees look like. In the time it took to find the prefect place for the sideboard to live it magically grew roots and rooted itself to the spot it has been placed in – there is no hope of ever moving it or taking it with us when we leave this flat. Look at me, talking about leaving before even having been here 3 weeks!?

The dining table is a revelation. The perfect size for the little alcove in front of our kitchen. So now whoever (me) is cooking can be talking to their guests while throwing pizza dough into the air to form the roundest lightest crispiest pizza bases for dinner. Of course I don’t make pizza bases. And anyway with my luck it would probably stick to the ceiling. Coming back to the dining table - I am a great believer of eating at the dining table. I hate eating off my lap and I hate the idea of crumbs everywhere – or drops of gravy gravitating to the floor. It’s all the legacy of my mum and dad who insisted that every meal be eaten, not only at the table, but off beautiful dishes and a well set table. I believe that a meal is better digested if eaten of a table. Call me old fashioned if you must.

The afternoon was spent in John Lewis with me trying to convince V that beautiful patterned curtains were the way to go. With a little 'effective persuasion' (ie. do what you want) from Shoefiend I managed to win half the battle. We’ll have bright red flowers on pale ivory curtains in our second bedroom. Absolutely exquisite. V says he is never going in there again.

It took about 3 hours (I kid you not) to order curtains that will now take 5 whole weeks to be made and delivered. My guess is that the cloth is woven in India, measurements are taken in John Lewis stores here and relayed to workshops in India. All that too-ing and fro-ing is what takes 5 weeks. Meanwhile I will have paid a small fortune to pull down masking taped sheets and replace them with real curtains.

Our first meal on our beautiful table, and not precariously balanced on our laps, was Pizza out of a box, greedily eaten with our hands. Disappointing. I had wanted the meal to be more dramatic. Table mats, cutlery, an array of pickles. Curries, gravies, dal, subji’s – all vying for the opportunity to fall off our plates – surprised to find their descent cut short by our solid table. I shall have to call our friends over again, for a proper meal.

Sunday was no less tiring though the pace slackened a bit. Had lunch with possible new friends; i.e we’ll see how it goes. Then we traipsed around a Greenwich furniture store till we found the perfect ‘media’ cabinet to house the various bits and bobs of electronic equipment needed for ‘pleasurable cinema quality home viewing’. That is to store sky box, dvd player, amplifier and woofer. V is thrilled. And it nearly matches the rest of our furniture so except for the plastic steel of the boxes and 300 wires it should look quite nice.

There’s an exercycle shaped space on our floor. No, it hasn’t died, and no, we weren’t robber by exercise thieves. Colleague came over in the evening to pick up our exercycle. I had put up an advert for it in office and within a day my colleague had walked up to my desk and said she wanted it. So she came along on Sunday evening with her 6 year old daughter in her Skoda, admired our flat and left one cycle richer. This exercycle has been our main form of exercise for well over a year now. Either V or I would place it in front of the TV and cycle for between 30-45 minutes in the hope that our hearts and bodies were getting stronger. While it made no discernable difference to our physical beings it was all I was willing to put myself through.

Things have changed. From a time when I was not willing to use a gym I now live too close to one to have any excuse not to. So the exercycle has been sold and a gym membership bought. What I think of gyms and attempt in the gym are stories for another post. I am feeling nostalgic about the exercycle. A bit like a pet that’s been given away because we are traveling to places where the quarantine is too long. I am glad it has gone to a good home.

Getting back to the rest of our Sunday evening, we then had M&A round for our new ‘apartment approval programme’. They approved and so we fed them a dinner of pasta at our shiny new dining table.

I feel tired but it was a weekend well spent. More than tired I feel grown up. I own a dining table. And some day in the future we will have curtains. Who ever thought that these facts would rock my world!?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Independence Day

I always stand up if the Indian national anthem is playing. Always. And I will deny this if we ever meet in real life – I even stood up when it was sung in uber corny movie K3G. I’m not sure if initially it was patriotism or just ingrained habit or just school parades for Independence Day. I am sure that now it's patriotism.

I am not going to wax lyrical about freedom from the British, partition and modern day India. Others do that far better. For me it's about being patriotic, if from a distance. And this year I shall do a better job of it than the short post last year. Although I must say that Nehru's speech was brilliant and maybe at that point no more needed saying.

There is something about living away from my homeland that brings out the patriotic in me. It’s akin to never having been closer to my folks than after I got married and moved out of their house. Suddenly my bones, blood and skin are more Indian. My brown-ness and strange neutral accent are special (only to me; they are just strange to people here).

Now that I live 8 flying hours away from India I take every opportunity to talk about India, the culture, the people, the food, the festivals, the gods, the cities, Delhi. And mainly I’m defending everything to the Brits who have no inkling. (I must give you an example here. Recently an American volunteer at my organization has announced that she is leaving us to go and live in Bangalore with her Indian boyfriend. Her line manager sidles up to me the other day and asks if I think “she will be alright in Bangalore. I mean do people there speak English? Will she be able to go out of the house on her own?”. What should I say?!)

I try and find a connection with every desi I meet: “So where did you grow up/ go to school/ college/ work?”. And if we find even the slightest of connections I work to make them my friends – another usually unsuccessful operation (but why is a whole other story)

I celebrate as many festivals as I can remember: Diwali, Holi, Karva chauth, Onam, Vishu and some. I celebrate them with more seriousness and piety than ever before. I have a more beautiful ‘puja’ than ever before. I visit as many temples as I can while on holiday in India.

I still think of Republic Day, Independence Day and Gandhi Jayanti as ‘my’ national holidays even though I haven’t been there for any of them for the past four years.

I hunt down obscure Indian recipes made by ancestors and try to recreate them. Mainly to disastrous results. At least I try.

I suddenly love dal – all kinds, cooked in all ways - something I successfully avoided eating till I hit 25.

I am suddenly more aware of my Indian-ness. I like accessorizing with nice Indian jewelry and patterned shawls/ scarves. I try not to stand out like a sore thumb but to wear the odd ethnic piece that is so far removed from the standard English Black and Blue.

I watch the news on the Indian channels everyday. I read the news on a number of Indian news sites. And I hurt when India hurts. I even try and read the BBC South Asia in Hindi so I don’t forget how to.

I call home and random family members all over the world on a regular basis, trying to cement that Indian connection. I have large phone bills.

I even miss the dreaded Delhi winters and am constantly favourably comparing it to the grey English one.

I miss the sunshine and the extreme temperatures it beats down on us. I miss the coolers with khus khus in the soaked side pads.

I miss the rain because it breaks and beats down in sheets, lifting the smell of mitti (which the English don’t have). And I compare that too, constantly, with the dripping Chinese torture rain in England. They are also missing any serious, meaningful thunder and lightening.

I never thought I would say this but I miss cricket. I only ever watched it live once in India and that was a blinder of a match but for the most part I just ignored it. Now I watch snatches of it with the ardent V when I can, cheering on the Indian team, screaming at the screen till I’m hoarse. Or better still watching the scintillating NatWest final against England, live at Lord’s, where Yuvraj and Kaif chased 325 to win. Sachin meeting us was a big deal

I miss the mess, the chaotic roads, the markets, Dilli Haat, the fabrics, the textures, the chaat, the unending curiosity, the people. I miss it all. And I love it like I never did when I was there.

I cry (not out loud or even with tears, just a strange internal crying) at strange hindi movies that show India so beautifully. Also when I hear the ‘Rang de basanti song’. And thanks to S I have a load of hindi music on my ipod that is prioritized over the English for when I travel to work.

I miss India – in case you missed what I’ve been drumming on about - very very much. And no, before you ask, we are not going back “in the foreseeable future”. As plans stand “we will live life day by day and see where the road takes us”. Besides I can’t imagine packing and moving – again - quite just yet.

I don’t think I have ever used the word Homeland before.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Ever had a weekend so busy that you wished for a workweek?

I did. And here I am sitting at my desk in my lunch hour blogging about how good it is to be sitting at a desk instead of running around the city organizing things for the house.

Our weekend was heavy duty running-around-packed. The lift is back to normal service. We went for a riverside wind & drizzle–swept Barbeque on Friday evening and came back to a fully operational though ill sounding lift just past midnight. Being swept up to the 7th floor instead of painful trudging up and wheezing is akin to angels singing in my ear. I cannot emphasize the strength of the YAY rushing through my exhausted veins when we reached our floor and casually walked the short distance to our door.

The lift being functional does mean that all the mundane tasks that could have been spread over the whole week of evenings was to be compressed into two days of hectic activity. I could not be more tired if I had run the half marathon.

Numerous trips to myriad stores - supermarkets, electronics superstore, furniture showroom, sound specialist. Numerous taxi rides with big bulky boxes and bags. Numerous trips up and down in the lift. A whole new path worn into the corridor carpets. A layer off the soles of my aching feet.

As if we didn’t have enough boxes and junk we have added more stuff to the little spare floor space. As with Mars-Venus, women-men, this stuff is essential to me and V on whole different levels. For me there is an ironing board, dishrack and dustbins. For V there is surround sound speakers, amplifier and unending high tech measuring tape. I’m glad there are two of us though because it made running around less tedious and carrying stuff much easier. Also in retrospect I think that different ‘essential’ lists are helping us choose, co-ordinate and buy stuff that will give us a complete house all the quicker.

We are still weeks away from a complete house. Our whole Home Theatre experience is yet to be set up. We have no real storage till the sets of drawers, sideboard or bookcase arrive, staggered over the next 4 weeks. We have open overflowing suitcases, towers of books threatening to topple over, and unattractive bin bags/ boxes of stuff in every corner. We have sheets tacked up with duck tape masquerading as curtains.

On the positive side we now have super cool spotlights shining on down in every room. These are brilliant and outshine the gaping holes still in the ceiling, left on purpose to enable wiring in the Home Theatre (when that happens!). We have a fully functioning kitchen and are getting used to the different shapes and sizes of appliances. The shadows and uncertainty of a space not mine will soon disappear.

It is not easy, this setting up of a home from scratch. There are lessons to be learnt each day. How the hot water boiler works. Which direction the key turns to open the doors to our heavenly abode. Where to store the cleaning products so they don’t mistakenly poison us. Where to place the dustbins so as not to trip over them. Where to place all the furniture that fitted so beautifully in the showroom and our minds. How to eat a meal balanced on ones knees without dropping some food on the newly cleaned floor.

We are getting there. Bit by bit. By hook or by crook. People visiting in the meanwhile will not be impressed.

I'm so tired I'm going to have a mini nap with my head balanced precariously on my keyboard. Toodles!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Good v Bad - nobody wins

The bad news: We’ve been eating all our meals out for 7 continuous days while we got organized, packed and moved.

The good news: The most nutritious thing has probably been the idli’s at Saravana Bhavan.

The bad news: I, the queen of all things Wagamama, have now sworn off them. For a bit at least.

The good news: We cooked our first meal in the new place on Monday – Bhindi, aloo subji and rotis. Never have I been so enamored with home cooked food.

The bad news: UFO light removal has left big gaping holes in the ceiling. Bare wires with sockets and dim bulbs do not make for a romantic setting. Or encourage unpacking with speed.

The good news: We hunted down and agreed on spotlights. Electrician uncle is fitting them in all the rooms today and tomorrow.

The bad news: I have to sit in the rubble and work (as my boss has kindly allowed me to ‘work from home’ rather than sit in office and yell at the electrician down the phone) . Then I have to clean up.

The good news: Once we can see the light maybe we will want to unpack and live like normal people.

The bad news: On Friday evening our lift broke down. It was the day after the movers and the evening after a morning of hectic furniture delivery. It was after all our stuff was in but this is still bad news. We live on the 7th floor.

The good news: Now we are walking up and down. 7 flights of stairs. Apparently this is good for my heart.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Life in a cardboard box

I moved to London on a cold winters day in early 2002 with my bright shining new Samsonite (wedding gift from aunt) containing the 20 kgs of life that the airline kindly permitted**. Now 20 kgs may seem a deceptively large number but when moving from parents home where every possible utensil and all design of linen is available, it is hard to decide what is essential to steal for the new home being set up. I decided that to make life slightly less complicated I would first pack my clothes and then depending on space/ weight available choose a few utensils.

Having heard all about the legendary London winter I ended up packing nice thick clothes, gloves, beanie hats, a variety of woolen socks and solid shoes. Needless to say my 20kgs filled up really quickly.

And I brought no utensils.

When we began packing up our things last week for the move my initial thought was that we didn’t have too much stuff. We'd been careful about collecting junk and consciously clearing out the unessential. Nothing a few cardboard boxes and suitcases couldn’t hold. I was so wrong.

In our 3.5 years in the rented flat we seem to have collected 20 large files of paper (bills, leaflets, notices, letters etc.) that could better be used as nest materials for some poor birds, numerous pieces of ‘decorative’ items – mirrors, wooden statuettes, assorted candles, paintings and etchings, 5 x 4ft stacks of books, a mile high pile of MAD and National Geographic’s and plenty of other things. When I say ‘we’ I mainly mean me – I have become a bit of a hoarder and till DNA proves otherwise I’m blaming it on my genes.

Most of this stuff is not what I need, just what I want. I am the Accumulator. Seemingly I need to be surrounded by these materialistic things – wood, paper, plastic and ink.

Moving day was an eye-opener. 24 small, fairly flimsy cardboard boxes and 6 medium-big strong cardboard boxes later we were three-fourths packed. A kitchen of stuff lovingly brought bit by bit from the Indian kitchens of my family and procured from supermarkets here, packed with care. Pressure cooker. Idli-maker. Belan and tawa. Woks and pans. Home ground masalas. Matching storage baskets. Cleaning materials. Plates and bowls. Crockery and wooden salad servers. Table mats. Table runners. Hand embroidered napkins and holders. Fondue set. Dals of different shapes and sizes. All the essentials to create the meals for our bellies.

Clothes got dumped into suitcases. The all important footwear took up more space that we thought possible. Knickknacks sorted into piles to take with us, give away or recycle. Packing was done in a wonderment of where all this stuff had been hiding all this time. We even resorted to bin bags at the end of it. Our movers arrived early and within an hour and a half had moved our rented lives into what we hope will be our very own home for the next few years. Up and down in the lift, several trips through the corridor and into assigned rooms. The new flat looked oddly empty even with all the boxes.

Our furniture arrived the next morning. Or rather its parts did. The assembly men efficiently assembled solid pieces in a few short hours. Hey presto, we suddenly own furniture – a bed, sofa’s, chairs, dining apparatus’. Now it looks less bare but not complete. Just a higgledy-piggledy mess of boxes and bin bags.

Now we must disassemble these boxes and find storage space for all our things. A shelf for linen, hangers for clothes, shoe rack for the millions.

Slow and steady. Breathe deep. Don’t let stress headache take over. My entire motto’s for the mo.

**This is my firm view: the people who decide how much luggage can be carried when you move abroad (anywhere but the USA) are all idiots. Period. Why is it that when you travel to the US you can have 2 pieces of baggage each weighing up to 32kgs but when moving anywhere else you can only carry 20kgs? Do people in other parts of the world need less? Idiots.

Monday, August 07, 2006

See, I told you I'm exhausted

This is what exhaustion does. Takes all comprehension, rolls it into a ball and chucks it into the deep blue sea.

Sorry Labile......

I did the wrong tag.

So listen up you 7 whom I have tagged. It was the wrong tag. I was meant to list seven bloggers that I do not know in real life but who I would like to meet and a hypothetical setting that would be ideal to meet them in.

Jane Sunshine - she sounds like fun and on a similar wavelength. I would have to say somewhere like Regents Park, in the sunshine.

Shoefiend - Ok, now her I already know and have met a few million times. But hypothetcially lets say I only knew herfrom her blog. Then I guess she sounds kind of like the person you would bump into at Burburry or Mulberry.

Rohini - She sounds wise and levelheaded and logical - all traits I admire muchas. A Mumabi coffee shop like at the Oberoi at Nariman Point, over cold coffee and club sandwiches.

Mumbaiwallah - Would be hoping for some of that intellect to transfer itself in a handshake (like osmosis(?) perhaps). I think the British Library would be an ideal setting.

Neha - Ah, for being a Jill-of-all-blogs and the courgae to voice her opinions. To ask her how she got so famous. Meet her maybe at an Amnesty movie screening!!?!

Sambhar mafia - For being the collector and disperser of all information it would seem. Knowing that much trivia must surely make for an interesting person! I would say over a dosa and filter coffee in a saravana bhavan type place.

Just another - For being quirky and interesting, for letting the fears and triumphs of youth be the meat of his blog. Somewhere like a gadget show - I doubt we could tempt him to a museum!

And last but not least, Labile - For letting us into the life of a student/ doctor/ american desi. Body Worlds sounds a good idea.....

So people go blog and tag.

Not too tired to tag

I’m exhausted with the move. My mind is not functioning as it should – I blame the exhaustion, others would probably say this was normal. I will post about the move and all its crazy moments. But for now Labile has tagged me.

Labile - It’s uncanny but I have been thinking about the Body Worlds exhibition lately and whether going would be cool or just downright creepy. If you are ever in town….

I am thinking about ... our next holiday
I said ... life is too short so don’t sweat the small thingsI want to ... write a funny family history
I wish ... the world would really become a better place
I hear ... muzik on my oh so cool new ipod
I wonder ... how people can be unpunctual and callous
I regret ... not having learnt an instrument as a youngsterI am ... calm and well planned – mostly!
I dance ... to 80s music I sing ... only when I am sure no ones eardrums can be damaged
I cry ... alone and very quietlyI am not always ... as organized as I seem
I make with my hands ... this simple food we eat
I write ... endless posts on this blog
I confuse ... daylight saving time all the timeI need ... 48 hours in a day

And following on from Labile tagging seven bloggers, here are my seven:
Jane Sunshine
Mumbai wallah
Sambhar mafia
Just another

Whump - the sound of my face falling on this keyboooooooooooo

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Meet the 30s: all grown up, living in debt and loving it


Keys jingling in a handbag. A fob heavier than the keys to the last place.

Bare wood floors. Massive glass panes. Three thin pillars holding up the floating ceiling. A hole in the wall where a plasma TV once lived.

Sepia light pouring in through the windows of the living room. Two people sitting on the cool warm floor. One playing with the remote for the electric blinds. The other gazing through the window at the terrace that is to be known as ‘outside space’ even at this height. And flipping through a folder of manuals for various appliances.

Our first evening in our new flat.



I have a warm fuzzy feeling in my heart right this very minute.

Our very first home together was here in London. A studio apartment on a leafy street. Since we were young, starting out and basically living like a student and his wife, our apartment was minimalist. We consciously avoided buying junk and stuff that was not desperately needed. Or could afford. Clean my house meant throwing a bedcover over the bed and hey presto it was all neat.

We moved to our next rented place in the month of December. We found it after looking at about 30 apartments within a close commute of V’s new workplace. And we fell in love with it in an instant. Bright, airy, modern and by the water, we’ve been very happy in this flat. We’ve entertained like crazy, had friends and relatives treat this like their home and thoroughly enjoyed growing into the space, buying stuff to equip it well, bringing treasures from India to make it feel like a bit of home. Our 3.5 years of bliss are over. Morphed into something even better: Ownership.

Yesterday my heart was in my mouth all morning waiting to hear from V that the solicitor had confirmed completion. That is money transfers and now we own this ship!!! And once he did (the solicitor) and then he did (V) my heart was aflutter with joy. Like good Indian children we quickly called our parents to share the good news. All the while marveling at how grown up we suddenly were.

Our age slowly creeps up on us draping us with an ever thicker shawl of responsibility. Before we know it we fall in real love and out of teenage drama. Then we get married and play ‘house’ for a bit. Then we buy our first home together and suddenly it hits us. Thwack is the sound I imagine in my head.

We are all grown up. And there’s no way but forward from here. I feel a little bit older, a lot more responsible and somehow a bit more secure knowing we own a bit of a bit of a city. It’s like all our life’s accomplishments coming to some fruition – all our seriousness and wise investment play dough-ing into something tangible.

I know I sound a bit sentimental (or is that mental?) but I am just a bit weepy. I also sound corny but that’s only because some of these clich├ęd things are coming to mind right now. Is that age or circumstance or both – we’ll never know. The day we never thought would come is here. Nearly a year on from when we started down this road we have finally reached our destination. Our journey is complete for the moment. Satisfaction guaranteed till we outgrow our box.



We have not moved yet but we have taken possession of our first ever home. Hence the jingling keys and everlasting wonder with electric blinds. The biggest purchase we are likely to make for sometime to come. The debt that is an investment. We went to have a look yesterday evening and finalise our plans for the rest of this week. We ended up trying to layout our living room with just our imaginations. It was fun.

Our furniture arrives on Friday. We’ll have to decide on some sort of layout by then or else risk our backs to move very heavy stuff once the assembly chaps have gone. Not so much fun.

P.S. Meanwhile, at Casa 30s we are still struggling to fit all our stuff into cardboard boxes and suitcases. Why did we ever buy all this stuff? When did we buy all this stuff? How expensive is all this stuff? Think we could ebay it? Where will we fit it in our new place? When will this move ever end?