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A newlywed's 'kahani ghar ghar kii'
Surabhi Goel Agarwal |
January 09, 2006
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Get Ahead reader Surabhi Goel Agarwal, 27, shares her musings on moving to a new city post marriage and setting up house from scratch.
I was born, brought up and spoilt in Mumbai.
I have never lived anywhere else or without my parents. Hence, moving to Hyderabad post tying the knot was very hard for my parents, sister and me.
I don't think the enormity of the situation hit me till I actually reached a new city with a new husband (ours was an arranged marriage) and new house.
I stepped into my new home to realise my husband's worldly possessions comprised a television set and a mattress! "What else does a man need?," he asked! Er…plenty more, as he was soon to find out.
We live on the third floor of an apartment building. There are three bedrooms, a living room with dining area, three balconies and a kitchen. That's HUGE by Mumbai standards. The area is nice. Lifestyle, the department store, is a five-minute walk away, a fact my poor husband overlooked and is now paying heavily and literally for. In the first week, my learning curve was vertical.
First, I was introduced to a whole new world of soaps and detergents. As our house was closed for nearly a month and the previous tenants had kept it very shabbily (how can people live so badly?), I decided to do a bit of cleaning. There are different cleaning agents for tiles and fittings. And, if the floor is really dirty, one can also use acid. But hey, acid should not be used for marble flooring because it leaves holes. Then, there are obviously a zillion soaps to pick from for washing clothes. To soak them, however, you need detergent. If the clothes are white, you can also buy bleach. Once you get through all this, you need to buy scrubs -- an aluminium wire scrub for big vessels, slightly softer one for other vessels and a sponge one for crockery. Phew, this was worse than rocket science!
Armed with a carton of soap and detergents, when I got home I realised I had forgotten to buy more obvious things, like a bucket and mug. I didn't even have a dustbin to throw the garbage. And no clothes rack to hang washed clothes. This kept happening for the next two weeks. If I would make tea, there would be no strainer or no box to keep the bread. No hangers to hang clothes on the cupboards.
Instead of buying clothes or shoes, these days I walk into a store and buy a fridge (I recommend one with at least two doors) or cooking stove (at least three burners).
As my cousin said to me the other day, a short pencil is better than a long memory. I would spend the whole day jotting down things I needed to buy and go shopping every evening armed with those lists.
Furnishing my new home
We must have visited every single furniture and curtain store in town. It's nice to get a new bit of furniture every few days -- our house would look different every time a bed or sofa set arrived. We soon knew where to get the best plastic boxes (microwave friendly), aluminium stands for vessels, etc. -- things I would never have known even in Mumbai.
We don't realise the luxury we have at our parents' home and the zillion things we take for granted.
But now, our home is actually pretty much in shape (we even have a cute name plate on our door), and everyone is invited! Of course, I still need to buy some plants. The list never ends!
Managing the house help
I seem to have an army of people reporting to me now. There is the milkman who comes in the morning but has been given strict instructions to leave the milk bags at the doorstep and not ring the bell. The same goes for the newspaper man.
Then comes the watchman who cleans the car, followed by the garbage man. The dhobi picks up clothes for ironing. The first maid comes and does the vessels and clothes, the second dusts and sweeps.
One difficulty we encountered was in deciding how much to pay these people. A small market survey in the neighbourhood took care of that.
~ When going shopping, do make a list of what you want to buy. This way, you won't splurge nor forget to pick up something.
~ Check with the neighbours before making any monetary offers to prospective house help.
~ Before buying furniture you could pick up a copy of magazines like Inside Outside for ideas.
Half the population now officially calls me amma. Thankfully, children in the building have not started calling me aunty yet.
I also now know and share the feeling of despair our mothers go through when maids don't turn up, and I often find myself calling my husband at the office to complain. Gosh, I feel so domesticated!
However, I am enjoying my status of unemployed housewife thoroughly -- maybe it's the novelty of it. I sometimes feel I'm playing house house, only this is for real!
Illustration: Uttam Ghosh
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