Our new home, Moving in…
And so, finally, after some 30 years of travelling, we moved into what we can now call our own home. That was the reason for my silence the last three weeks as it was back breaking work, literally and physically, getting all the stuff into the new house, with no time to spare. The garage is still littered with boxes, some containing stuff that we held on to and which had remained unopened for many years now. As we moved from continent to continent, country to country, they followed, in silent tow, filled with items that triggered memories, but not much else. Now the task of finding them resting places or disposing them is yet another arduous one.
It was fun actually, locating the place to live and finding a home that we liked. The construction phase in this lagging market took a while, and as we eagerly waited for the building to take shape, frequently checking up on the progress, we learnt some of the nuances in the American way of building a home as opposed to the Indian one which is mortar and concrete and tiles. Here it is hardboard, drywall and frames. New terminologies like sidings, shingles and drywall were quickly learned and absorbed and we watched the contractors come and do their stuff, efficiently. Some of the Mexicans who were around doing the work agreed that the brick and mortar way is what they were used to too, but well, they had by now mastered the gringo technology, and it well, good or bad, paid them daily wages. An desi pal at our office, one of the others who had recently purchased his pad gave me valuable tips of what’s and what not’s as the construction period chugged along merrily through the winter and snow. Finally the home was ready and we quickly completed the various financial and legal formalities to arrive at the closing event, a legal ceremony of sorts. The lawyer made sure we had our signatures in the right places on the many documents and with a final flourish the copies and a gleaming set of keys were handed over.
And with that we were the owners of a new home in Raleigh.
His arrival was in regal style, dressed in traditional Poojari garb. I watched him as he parked his car. He was bare bodied behind the wheel, and I wondered what the state trooper who may have passed him or others on the street in other cars would have thought. With a big mu-gopi on his forehead and a smart tuft or Kudumi, he was exactly like any other poojari outside Kerala. As he parked, the effects of technolgy came to view. The GPS was switched off, the Iphone was taken off the docket and the blue tooth removed from his ears. With that he stepped out in regal fashion much to the amazement of the Mexican crew working next doors. I could see their eyes literally pop seeing the priest in his red and green bordered dhothi worn the traditional Telugu Iyengar fashion, and the poonool across his chest. He walked in cheerily waving to the gaping Mexicans with a distinct Carolinian twang ‘ hey guys, how’re ya doing??
I could only smile, seeing all this and thinking about the life of an Indian abroad. Most of you may not be able to visualize all this and I am not really doing justice to telling the story, but well, I hope I gave you at least a hazy picture of the events taking place.
Soon our man set about his task, keeping the vigraham at the right place, as we conversed in Tamil, dressing the idol & did the cleaning up of the area. The pooja and homam went on for all of 3 hours, the priest turned out to be very competent & knowledgeable, occasionally checking up on the stanzas with the e reader on his iphone and explaining some meanings to us. The smoke wafted by, and I had based on a friendly tip from the desi friend I previously mentioned, removed all the smoke detectors off their mounting well before the event to avoid a police visit, and finally the home smelt right. Gone were the chemical fumes, replaced by the smell of burnt coconut and ghee and incense sticks. The interesting thing was that we had to do most of the pooja based on running instructions from the Pandit, which was again was a big difference from Kerala.
With that the various landlords I dealt with in our nomadic existence thus far became fond memories. I still recall the Mysore clerk who owned the home in Bangalore where we first lived, then the KEB executive engineer, whose basement area we inhabited, the Arab businessman who owned our apartment in Riyadh, the multi-millionaire shipping magnate at Istanbul who would personally come to collect his rent or follow up for it with phone calls, the Sardar who operated through his home manager in California and so on…and the many well managed apartment complexes along the way, not to forget of course the Ambika Nivas at Madras which I have written about.
And thus we sit these days, when time permits, in the porch to listen to crickets and birds, the train that goes by infrequently with the typical horn, not the whistle, taking in the white noise of the road hum from the nearby highway….as we inhale the smell of the grass and become one among the many happy home owners of America…
I promise to be more regular from now on and look forward to your interaction with pithy comments for they are what keep it all going. I know there are many readers, but those comments from a few always tell you if you are in the right direction or not and if you are addressing the matter right or wrong. I hope for more...