It didn’t take long for our neighbours to figure out we were moving. I guess they were alerted by all the pieces of furniture disappearing through the front gate as buyers came to pick up the things I had put up for sale on an expat forum.
My landlords started getting inquires about our apartment from prospective tenants. The fruit seller asked me if we had a television to sell. The electrician told me he was interested in ‘kitchen items’, and the maid blatantly told me: “Whatever you don’t take with you, give to me.”
Then one day as we were parking the car, the security guard who’s stationed at the office just opposite the house approached us and asked if we were selling our car and for how much. A few days later, as I was returning home from the market I saw three men studying our car. One of them (who works as a driver for the director of the office) approached me and asked when ‘Sir’ was coming home that evening because someone had come from Mysore to buy the car! Later I found out from my landlord that the security guard had decided to look for a buyer for our car and take a tidy commission for himself.
We sold anything of value easily. Also, I learned it’s very easy to get rid of unwanted junk. After 6.5 years I had accumulated a lot of it.
I had tons of paper to get rid of – magazines, brochures, pamphlets. I filled several bags and waited for the paperboy to come by, but of course weeks went by without me hearing his timid knock at my door.
So one day just as I was reaching home, an older man on a bicycle yelling ‘Paypaar!’ was passing by, so I told him I had some paper for him. His eyes grew wide when I presented him with my many bags full of unwanted paper. He started pulling out his scale from his canvas bag, but I told him I didn’t want to get paid for each kilogram, and that he could take all of it. His eyes grew even wider and he put his hands together in a very respectful namasté and bowed his head, which made me feel uncomfortable because this ‘gift’ of waste paper he was grateful for was just junk I wanted to get rid of and he was actually doing me a big favour by taking it away.
Then there was the issue of getting rid of the real junk: stuff I couldn’t impose on anyone. Stuff that has to be thrown out in the garbage. But something as simple as putting out the garbage is not such a straightforward task. I had filled several bags and I've learned it’s not a good idea to leave them unattended on the roadside… because if it’s not picked up quickly, the contents will end up all over the road, the work of stray dogs or the rag pickers who open and sift through garbage bags. But how to catch the garbage collection van? By the time I hear it and run outside, it’s gone. So I solicited the help of my ever-helpful landlord who told me he’d keep an eye out for them. They didn't come on Monday or Tuesday, but they did show up on Wednesday. I knew they were there because I heard my landlord yelling at them. “Why haven’t you come the whole week?” he berated them. He told them to pick up the bags I had left just inside our gate. The garbage collector started to make a lame excuse, saying they only pick up the garbage left on street corners, not in front of houses… Then he saw the 10-rupee note my landlord had in his hand (he was prepared), and quickly shut up and picked up the bags, pocketing the tip. (My landlord then launched into a long tirade about corporation employees and how they’re too lazy to do their jobs and that the only way to get our garbage collected was to pay them a few rupees every week which we shouldn’t be doing because they’re already getting a salary. Like I said, it’s not as easy as putting your garbage bag on the curb!)
It’s amazing how liberating it feels to get rid of stuff… as our furniture disappeared and the house was slowly purged of years of accumulated ‘stuff’, I felt lighter and lighter. I happily gave away things (to the delight of the maid) and felt more and more liberated. However, once the moving boxes were packed with only our essential and beloved things, I no longer felt so light-hearted as reality hit me.
After almost 7 years, we're leaving India!