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Archive for the ‘home’ Category

Sat, June 6th 2009

After the misadventures of the previous day, we woke up early and started loading up the remaining things in the car. We had more things to donate at the library, the salvation army etc. PK ran those errands and also dropped off our second large bag at the friend’s house. They must have been dazed at the apparent lack of planning, but with a move of this magnitude and the complicated one way road trip before the long flight contributed to all the chaos, which some people seem to understand. Then PK set the many bags of trash and several bins of recyclables out for pick up on Monday. Then I went room by room and said good bye to the home. We did a group hug, shed a few tears and stepped out. I walked around full circle of the exterior and admired the plants, shrubs and the fruit trees. Then with a heavy heart I walked to the car. As we set out on our road trip, the house faded into the distance through the rear-view mirror. It truly was a sad moment.

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Closure, sort of …

Not sure, where to start …

The last three months are a blur in my head. We had the home for sale in the market for about seven weeks. The stress we were under can only be experienced if you try to sell your home in a market as tough as the current one. I feel like I could write a book on it. Somewhere along the way, I also felt that a support group for home-owners on the market would be very helpful too. It was seven weeks of constant cleaning – vacuuming, dusting, mopping, wiping etc for the almost daily showings that we had. I was afraid to cook anything even slightly elaborate, for fear of the smells and the mountain of cleaning which would come after that. We lived like guests in our own home with minimal impact, but that still didn’t ease the pain of keeping the home show-ready. The outcome was not too bad. We got a few offers, some real low balls, some decent ones but were badly timed. Ultimately we just chose to rent it out for a year. To me, the most attractive thing about renting was the prospect of quick closure vs the six to eight weeks it takes for sale closures. I was feeling the time pressure due to the academic calendars in Bangalore. There’s also the hope that things will turn around in a year or two.

The relief at having finalized the lease quickly faded when we realized the amount of work that needed to be done in less than three weeks. We had three vehicles to sell, sort through a house full of junk stuff we accumulated over the years, tying loose ends at school and day care and also work towards realizing the dream of a cross country road trip before we leave. Again, the vehicle sales had their own drama. As of today, we are two down and one more to go. And for that last one, we have lost the title and are running around trying to get a duplicate issued quickly. We realized that only on Saturday. It was frustrating to just wait it out on Sunday and Memorial day for banks, RMV etc to open. There has not been a dull or care-free moment in this household all of this year!

Our time here is quickly coming to an end. If all goes well, we hope to vacate our home in ten days and embark on a two week cross country road trip and reach San Francisco by the 20th and fly to Bangalore from there. Along the way, we plan to meet some friends, see a few new places and also do some camping in the Yellow Stone and Grand Teton National Parks.

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For over two weeks, our home has been undergoing spring cleaning, on steroids. We have discovered nooks and corners of the house we didn’t even know existed. We have donated a lot of stuff, sold a few things and just crammed the rest of the junk into boxes and stacked them in an unused room and/or the basement. Still there seems to be stuff oozing out of everywhere, but it is under control. We have busted our behinds off washing all the windows, steam cleaning the carpets, cleaning out the cabinets and drawers etc. The silver lining in all of this? I got rid of the cleaning service.

The house went on the market last week. We had an open house on Sunday. The weather was really nice and there was good turn out. But I’m suspicious of open houses. I think it is mostly just curiosity seekers and very few serious buyers. Whatever. We had one more showing and two more are coming up over the weekend. So, the vacuuming, washing, wiping just doesn’t end. It is hard to be always “show ready”. It has only been a week and sometimes we feel so discouraged. I know it is ridiculous to feel that way – it is taking 4 to 6 months on average for home sales here. But feelings don’t follow logic and rational, right?

To quote a cliche, when it rains it pours. Couple of weeks ago was a pleasant Sunday. We drove to Boston and had lunch at one of our favorite restaurants. That was the only good part. From there it went downhill. We found a parking ticket on the car when we went back. After that we were walking around in the city and I dropped our camera. $300 flushed down the drain. Then unexpected four figure repairs on my car. The tap has opened and money is just flowing out.

PK and AK are at the Copper Mountain Resort (near Denver) this weekend for some skiing. Financial and other logistical burdens compelled SK and me to stay back. I’m used to being alone with the kids but it is strange to have AK gone and being just the two of us. They got an earful from me about being cautious and all that stuff. I am always a bit fearful in the back of my mind, but recent news of Natasha Richardson’s accident and death brought these fears to the forefront. I know accidents can happen anywhere, even while doing simple daily activities and all that, but …

Phew, relieved that I got all of that out of my system. Some of that had been bottled up for a while.

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Almost a year ago, our family decided to move to India, this summer. The bigger picture of moving back “home” sometime, has been on our minds for a few years now, but the time frame was sort of finalized early last year.

 

We are faced with the situation of putting our home for sale in this difficult housing market. It is actually terrible timing for us – not just with the house, but for new jobs too. I’m kind of lucky that I will probably be able to move with my current job since my company has operations in Bangalore too. But PK will probably have a tough time finding something good. I only have a job, but absolutely no relocation assistance. And it riles me when people make all-knowing comments how most companies pay for these moves. Have they not been seeing or reading about the happenings all around? My company used to, also. But that was then.

 

The school situation in Bangalore is extremely competitive. They have all sorts of written tests and interviews for elementary schools. And I’m not talking about elite schools or anything. This is standard operating procedure for just about any school there. The academic calendars don’t coincide either. So AK will probably not have any summer vacation. Probably just about a two or three week break.

 

We are not able to firm up any dates yet since much depends on what happens with the home. We have spent the last couple of months painting, replacing carpets etc, in preparation for listing it. I don’t deal too well with uncertainty, so it promises to be a tough year. Even if we are able to wrap up everything smoothly here, we will have the other daunting task of actually settling down over there. The kids have never spent more than three to four weeks at a time there. School system will be new. And even though it is my home town, it feels like a new place every time I visit (every two years, in case you are wondering). The place has changed drastically in the last decade.   

 

A friend asked me if I was feeling nostalgic having to leave this home after having lived here for eight years. Now is not the time for nostalgia for me. There is just too much to be done and a lot of stress about how it will all work out. Hopefully, once that is all ironed out, nostalgia will come (and hit me hard, I’m sure!).

 

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We are currently doing some work in the house – new counter tops and floor in the kitchen, new floor in the laundry/mud room andnew carpet in the bed rooms. The house is a mess. But not having access to the kitchen is downright inconvenient. I had sorta expected this but didn’t realize how hard it would be. Especially today, with the kids being home due to Columbus day. I’m dreading a week of PBJ sandwiches, mac and cheese and eating out. And all the clean-up and rearranging that will come afterwards. But for now, no cooking, doing dishes etc :). Hey, I have to look for the bright spot in the middle of this chaos!

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Three month check

While I don’t really make new year resolutions, one of the causes of stress for me was the clutter/untidiness of the house. A home with two young kids will probably never be neat and tidy, but what was eating me was the state of the kitchen. Since the beginning of the year, I have been making a conscious effort to put pots and pans back in cabinets and keep the counters clear of clutter and I’m happy to report that I’m doing surprisingly well. Yeah, I know it’s probably a no-brainer, but it was “Eureka” for me, when I discovered the secret was really to spend 15-30 minutes every night to straighten it out instead of letting it all pile up until my fortnightly cleaning before the cleaning lady’s visit. For the floor mess (kids’ gold fish, cereals, cracker and cookie crumbs etc), we bought the Roomba and it has helped a lot. Just switch it on and walk away and it does a fairly decent job. It has also been very helpful for clean-ups after we have had guests, especially with young kids. Now, I’m not nearly as mortified of occasional pop-ins by some friends in the neighborhood. There are still days when I just chill out with a drink and let it all lie around, but overall I think I’m on track.

Now, if only I had such positive news on the diet and exercise bit …

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Look up, what’s that?

Last weekend, we had some friends over from New Jersey. Saturday morning, we were all sitting at the kitchen table having idlis for breakfast, when we were pleasantly surprised to see a hot air balloon floating in our neighborhood. This is not really the first time, I have seen it a couple of times before, but still always nice to see one. The one I saw last time was going much lower down and went directly above our house. A and I were outside in the yard at that time and I was much more impressed with that sight.

Hot air balloon

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