We are moving to a new city.
When I think about leaving the city I was born and raised in, the city I have spent all but a year of my life in, and the city I love more than any other place in the world, the sense of nostalgia and loss that overwhelms me is inexplicable.
But before moving, there is packing. Packing is both nostalgic and interesting. And often makes me wonder if I’m a hoarder. Or someone who never lets go of the past. Or a world-class collector of plastic bags and gift-wraps and rubber bands.
Here are some of the things I discovered in the process of packing. [It was less of packing and more of gutting the crap from all our cupboards]
- God is everywhere. No, not metaphorically. He is actually everywhere. In calendars and key chains and pen stands and boxes and paperweights. And no one in my family, including me, can get themselves to throw these away. You can’t actually, physically, throw “god” into the garbage. Just, CANNOT. But a lot of these things are of no use to us. How many key chains can one really use? So we just keep them all in a box. Stationary inside a box inside a box inside a box. And these will stay inside the box forever. Because, you know, theres god inside it.
- God is everywhere. Really. My father is named after one of rather popular Hindu deities. Everyone we know has at some point thought it rather ingenious to gift him a small or big statue of that deity. Now we have hundreds of them. Will have to set aside a shelf at our new house that can be bedecked by these beauties. [To be honest, not all of them are beauties. But as I said, one cannot throw god into the bin :D]
- I have collected and preserved every single letter and greeting card I have received since I was 11. EVERY SINGLE ONE. All those inside a big box that won’t close any more. What is wrong with me? Some of them are cute, some are special and hold many memories. But why do I have a card from someone who says “Happy Birthday! Can you help me with my math homework tomorrow?”
- I store empty boxes and bottles. Of lotions and creams and oils and spices and cookies. Some because I think they will be useful in future, and some because they are too pretty to be in the trash. I think I have used one of them just once in all these years. It will break my heart, but I have decided to throw these away.
- Cassettes! I was a mad collector of audio-cassettes before Steve Jobs and the iPod. They were my dearest possessions for the longest time. I spent hours listening to them. How can I discard them? Some of those cassettes are so rare – there are songs that are difficult to find even online. I hunted down every music shop in the city to get hold of some of these. I am okay being called a hoarder. I shall NOT throw these away. There is Dil Se, the album that made me fall in love with A.R. Rahman once and forever. A recording of one of Jagjit Singh’s concerts. A collection of Runa Laila’s songs. The best of Illayraja. S.D. Burman. Hemant Kumar. Pink Floyd. All the creepy Bollywood albums from the 90s. And the non-creepy ones The time when Sonu Nigam looked like an overgrown child and Bipasha Basu wasn’t sexy. So many memories. They are staying with me. No debate.
- I love stationary almost as much as I love lists. Diaries, pens, post-its, bookmarks, pencils, crayons, highlighters, paper, fountain pens – the list is endless. I’m sorting through these. Only some will stay. The fountain pens and post-its I guess. The rest – TRASH.
- Old footwear. My foot size never grew beyond 3 and half so I still fit into most of my old shoes. But I think I’ll just discard the ones that are old. Pretty sure I won’t be wearing them. Ever.
- Plastic bags. I think this is a pathological disorder with many Indian families. This firm belief that all plastic bags must be stored safely for future use, and that they will be of use at some point. I think our family switched to paper and cloth bags quite a few years back. So the plastic bags – TRASH.
- Wires and USB cables. Over the years, we may have discarded several electronic devices once they were too old for use – music systems, phones, MP3 players, VHS players. But somehow we managed to forget the poor cables that connected them to power sockets or other devices. The cables are still there. Yards of them. They need to go. TRASH.
- Photographs. These don’t go anywhere near the trash. Cherished moments – all stored on film. The ability to revisit old times. When I slept on my grandmother’s lap. Film is the best invention of mankind. Really.
There it is. I know I am yet to discover many more of my idiosyncrasies. But here are some of them.
Have you also experienced something similar? How did you feel when you were moving to another city? Have you also collected inane things? Let me know!