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The Perils of Being Urban Nomads


The Perils of Being Urban Nomads

I call us the urban nomads. Why? Just like the seven year itch in a marriage, we suffer the three year itch that afflicts most people staying in tenanted apartments. When our residential lease comes to an end, we uproot ourselves lock, stock, and barrel and move to a different location. If we are lucky, we stay rooted for five years, that is, till we get tired of the landlords or they get tired of us!

We have one such move imminent, which is why, I’ll share how we as a foursome see it.

I dread most moves even if they mean shifting intra-locality. I have to scrutinize everything: the stuff that is locked away from sight for lack of display space or the stuff that is already displayed and not worth displaying in future, so it implies relooking my stash. Now, I am not a hoarder but my possessions have significant memories attached to them and that just makes it harder for me to discard them.

My better half is more practical to the point of seeming cold-hearted. One look at his prized ware and a rapid fire series of commands is all it takes to know what stays and what goes.

My kinder on the other hand, are excited by the prospect of a shift—their first—but are filled with trepidation too. Top of the list is the fear that they will lose their bosom pals in the present building and that they will be ‘replaced,’ worse, forgotten. For my children who have lived most of their young lives in veritable geriatric-majority, single-storied buildings, the prospect of moving to a place possibly similar to the current one and having to make friends all over again can be rather daunting. All this, if there are children in the building!!

So cries like “play times will never be the same or as fun again,” or “a simple yell “homework over” will no longer bring down my friends” or “a call over the intercom will not work now,” or “I won’t be able to talk with them outside the door” or common ‘classes’ will need to be rescheduled rent the air.

Reality hits me too. What happens when I have a meeting or an open house at school and the school bus is late? What about when the maid comes and no one’s home? Or the gas-wallah or even the postman? Who shall I trust with the house keys?

I reason and try to allay our collective concerns. Sure, the intercom may not function but my phone has all our friends’ numbers. We are not moving to a different city or continent. It’s just the next street! So play times and venues need not change. If it is any consolation, our classroom at school next year will overlook the building we will be moving out of now. What joy! More importantly, I tell them that our friends come into our lives for a reason but they stay on for a lifetime so there is no question of any replacement.

Worries addressed, some swift decision making begins. My ‘waste’ basket is dragged into the room and piled high with things we have outgrown and won’t need anymore. It is imperative after all that as urban nomads, we stay lean in worldly possessions but carry a heart full of memories wherever we go.

If you are shifting homes, schools, or offices and amongst all else have an anxious child to pacify, here’s our take on how to deal with things:

1. Explain the move clearly: Specify where you are moving, why, the length of time, and what awaits your child there. Check out the place you are moving to (if it is a different school or country) if possible, on the Net or physically. Read up about it together with your child. Nothing helps a child settle in better than the preparatory material you provide.

2. Confirm that you will be there with him: There is tremendous anxiety that all that is familiar will be lost during a move. Reassure your child that you will be there. That is one BIG fear taken care of.

3. Give your child time to settle in: It takes us adults a while to settle into a new place. So give your child adequate time and space when he adapts to a new environment. Don’t push it but help him in his efforts to melt in.

4. Encourage your child to keep in touch with old friends: The Net and the snail mail often help here as does the good old telephone. Skype, call, write and your child will have mementos and memories to cherish and relationships that last a lifetime.

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7 thoughts on “The Perils of Being Urban Nomads

  1. sharmila

    After three years… there are the parents whose feet start twirling and itching and all they think about is the shift, new place, a chance to start all over again…it kind of becomes an addiction and a contagious one…

    The children too get hooked on and start eagerly awaiting the move…and not to forget – family gets closer as all decisions are taken together, everyone is consulted and every members views and opinions are valuable :)))

    Reply
  2. meera

    i don’t want to shift while my husband and my daughter seem to want some change..We have been staying in our apartment for the last 12yrs…

    Reply
  3. amrita.pai Post author

    12 years! Wow!! Meera, 5 yrs is the longest I have stayed in an apartment in Mumbai! While its mandatory for us to move given the corporate lease tenure, I feel some change…need not be earth-shattering…is good.

    Reply
  4. Vibha

    Nice piece Amrita! Liked the part about staying lean…with a heart full of memories.
    Straight out of Ripley’s Believe it or not : I have only ever lived in 2 houses – with my parents and now in my own home with husband (and kids) !! And my mother has lived in her home ALL her life – 72 years on the last birthday!

    Reply

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