Friday, January 7, 2011

Packing Boxes and Boarding Flights

Call me old fashioned....boring...or unambitious. But I like stability. No, I love stability.

I wish I was part of an older generation...when people seldom changed jobs, cities, partners, cars, houses or friends. Our generation, on the other hand, seems to enjoy the adrenaline rush that comes with visa stamps on passports, flight tickets, removalists, mail redirection, house hunting and friend finding. In short, we love hassle. In fact, we love it so much that we happily give up everything that was truly ours (friends and family) to run after an elusive “something”. Some call it opportunity...others, quality of life.

I have changed jobs (innumerable times), cities (twice, with a strong possibility of a third time, which we talked ourselves out of), countries (once) and suburbs in the new cities (four times, twice in the same year). There is a general lack of loyalty to a place or phase of life. And this constant moving around has left me root-less, to say the least....and yearning for that feeling of belonging.

My dad retired from the company he joined straight after university. And I, his worthy daughter (NOT), changed four jobs in one year. F-O-U-R.  Yes, I have made more money. Yes, my learning curve also looks healthy. No regrets there. But the reason for changing from my third job to the fourth, is not that obvious to me. Let’s say, it happened...and I did not resist.

Only the other day I was telling a friend how my in-laws (who are in their late sixties, early seventies) are still in touch with friends who they have known since their college days. The same set of friends who came to my husband’s rice ceremony, came to our wedding...and will come to our kid’s rice ceremony (if we have any). And remember, they did not have Facebook to be in touch. No “poking a friend” or “sending a smiley” or relying on birthday alerts to wish your friends. It was all plain love...and a lot of sincere effort to keep the relationships going.

That’s the kind of shared history I miss. We make new friends every year. And by the end of the year, most relocate to other cities or countries, fading into the “virtual” world. I doubt if any of my current friends will be attending my kids’ marriage (note I don’t have any yet), who can teasingly pinch their cheeks and say “Getting married, dude? Remember how you peed in our bed once and covered it with auntie’s scarf?”

I have often heard my dad-in-law say “Your mom (in law) got this ABBA record as a gift for me, with her first salary. The sound quality is still superb.” That’s another thing I miss. I don’t really have any thing that goes back years. The books and CDs that I really thought were “mine” are "back home" still, in the room that used to be mine. The luggage allowance wasn’t enough to let us carry all our “emotional assets”. We carried the "essentials". Wish I can sit on a day bed someday, with wrinkled cheeks and toothless gums, and exclaim “Got this day bed on our sixth anniversary. Bloody good quality the mattress is.”

Remember “Central Perk” from the TV Series, “Friends”? It’s not a real place. It is based on Cholmondeley's, a coffee shop and lounge in Usen Castle at Brandeis University, the alma mater of the show's creators. But it was a coffee house that the “regulars” visited often throughout the series. In fact, they didn’t really have to call one another saying “meet me at the usual place”. They kind of stopped there after work, almost as a ritual. Wish I had something like that. Somewhere to stop...everyday...every-single-day, amidst the whirlwind of daily chores and responsibilities. Some place where my favorite people would turn up, every evening, by default. That regularity... that what I’d love. But alas! We have to send 571 emails to plan a dinner...and 689 mails to plan a picnic. And we go out of our way to make sure that we try a different place every time. What’s this obsession with “trying out new things?” Why not just find a place you like, and stick to it?

Until a few years back, there used to be a crack in the balcony of our home in Kolkata. Every time I asked my mom why she didn’t get it fixed, she’d say “Oh that! It’s when you hit the wall with your tricycle.” Now, how a toddler on a tricycle can cause such a crack on a brick wall is beyond me.  But what stands out is that fact that we lived in the same house for 30 years. By the time our kid (again, the one that’s not born yet) goes to high school, we may have changed more houses than his age.

 So, while we're packing boxes and boarding flights, are we really getting anywhere? Or are we only running as fast as we can in our own hamster wheels?


Dip Narayan said...

I guess it is an archetypal instinct to yearn for the good old days, but, a confession here. I have never felt it. To me the now appears with such intesity that the past fades away quite a bit. If I am grumpy, I don't think of the future, or else it comes a close second to now.

I got initiated to changing friends, house, places when I was 9ish, and I guess I accepted it without feeling anything. Now I have been in the same job and the city for around 3 years, and I feel like my feet are ossifying.

Different strokes etc.

PS: Cholomondoley always make me smile. Reminds of a gaggle of menstruating schoolgirls. That's not funny, I know. That a word can somehow connote that meaning is.

GB said...


Maybe you're at that stage of life when you yearn to put down roots....if you want it bad enough, you will. From what I gathered, your moving and changing jobs was pretty much voluntary? right? So if you've found the place you love, and want to raise your (as yet unborn :D) kids in...go for it!

I've moved all my life. Never thought too much about it. Then we landed in a place as close to paradise on earth as can be. We moved (HAD to, forced to) but I dream of getting back there and finally "settling down". Sometimes "same" is boring. Sometimes, it's just a place of strength where you can grow from....all the best in your search. :)

The Ketchup Girl said...

I can relate to this post. We've moved more than you have when in comes to cities and with jobs, i beat you hands down. But I love being a nomad, with no ties. Moving cities and making newer friends, taking along memories of old places and discovering newer ones. But i think its time now to make a decision and 'settle' somewhere, for Mish's sake.

Scribbler :) said...

@ Dip - moving from when you were 9 years old! No wonder you are a "grasshopper veteran" :) And lucky that you don't yearn for things you cannot get :)

@ GB - Yes, you are right. All our moves were voluntary, and there lies the tragedy. All the best for going back to the paradise you found. As for me, the search continues (or maybe I have found it....but just don't know it yet).

@KG - Good for you. Yes, there is that excitement in "starting all over again". But guess I have reached a phase when I just want to sit back and relax with the assurance of "here is where we'll grow some roots".

Patricia Torres said...

when you find the perfect place to work you will settle down for sure.. Its only normal...

Saying that.. this was my first proper job after uni.. and I've been working here for 15 years now.. But not one year has ben the same.. its been a gradual growht and learning proces.s. and once you find that.. you'll do jsut fine!! dont you worry!!

Scribbler :) said...

Thanks Patty. Yes, I think when I find my forte, I'll happily stick to one thing. Hoping that happens soon :)

Debanjana said...

one question...are you pregnant?