Friday, September 18, 2009

south asia or bust

I was born with a mole under my foot. The baby was conceived the week we got the keys to our first house, by the time he was eight months in utero we had moved to another. So I was unfazed when we received news close to his Month Seven birthday that we might be moving to Bangladesh. Worry not, I told Gman and scuttled about getting travel doctors organized and Pesho's pet passport ready. A week into this we receive a phone call from Aus Quarantine that though for all purposes Pesho is a Rudd-loving, meat-eating, fair dinkum Aussie and can leave the country at her leisure but spending time in Bangladesh (an unrecognized country as far as quarantine laws are concerned) would make her unfit to enter Australia, What Why, I splutter. Like a generation of Brahmins who were at a danger of losing their faith once they crossed the kaala pani, Pesho too faced the risk of being excommunicated. The only hope to be allowed back into the fold was to be spend six month in a recognized country and then 180 days in quarantine. Gman who is a whizz with the calculator concluded that meant nine months, so the choice was ours does she spend an year with us in Dhaka (we will be there for an year come September 22nd) and nine months without us. Or does she stay with friends for the time we were away (with the hope of meeting her in between as I will be coming to Australia in between for a conference and Gman has work that brings him back). It was Sophie's Choice all over. And so I heard the words that I thought would never be uttered in our house (us being not the sort who went for the arranged alliance and all). Gman clearing his throat as he entered the house:
"There are a couple of people who are interested. Do we have some nice photographs of her". He was quick to add that they have been told we are the "broad minded" sort and would like both parties to meet. My mother who was around added her bit "Im so glad she is staying here, Pesho could never adjust to South Asia". Anyways, there were a couple of meetings and we have decided on someone who has loved Pesho from the beginning and it doesn't hurt that she is also a foster parent to children in crisis situations.
Khair, a fortnight ago Gman told me that the move was not a vague thing that would happen some time in the future but IN TWO WEEKS (damn, the visas came on time). And that we had to do plebeian things like pack the house, put it up on rent, and store our stuff in the garage. I did what any person would do in a situation like this. Get down to reading Stephen King's On Writing and borrow the first two seasons of Ugly Betty. I was still sore about the Pesho incident and I had just heard that we were on a budget where shipping our stuff was concerned (the office says that they are moving us to a furnished place so all non-essentials are frowned upon). In brief, playing Sophie's Choice Part Deux where my books and stuff around the house was concerned. So a mad game of I will trade you X if I can take Y started between Gman and me.
"Itna ziada kiyoo likhety hain?" said Gman as he 'weighed' Guha's India After Gandhi.

"Sure, he could have summed it up as bahut roye ji Bapu kay jaaney kay baad but then cricket season started...and the rest you can look up in wikipedia " I retorted.

Anyways I have concluded that I will not be very good as a refugee, so may Allah save me from a crisis. I will be the one slowing down the caravan as I JUST had to take that painting which reminded me of home.
Reading King's On writing was useful when it came to doing the packing, he suggests the second draft is First draft minus Ten Percent. I applied the same to packing, then repacking minus twenty. And I did a trade off that for every essential book I want to take I have to take an item of clothing or shoes out---sadly Im not taking any fiction just some stuff on seminaries that is important for a project. Since my big sacrifice, Gman has sprung tickets for Delhi where he says I can buy books to my heart's content.
However, it is going to be very very difficult. My library like my cat are a piece of my heart, they are me. I am going to feel very raw and vulnerable for the coming months. I know I should not be ungrateful as there are many who leave hearth and home with far less, and I will be back soon. An year is not that long a time not to look at my favourite wall prints, or pore through some well-thumbed favourites or not to fiddle with the carpets that have followed me everywhere. Particularly if I keep in mind the work that is taking us to Bangladesh (and that is all I can say about it as Gman's work place has a confidentiality thing about blogs and discussing the work that they do--all good I promise).
So this is what is happening. Still a lot of work to do. The next year is to finish my own project that I have been procrastinating about for a while. It is a year for Gman to shine and for me to adopt the role of the good Mrs jo thoda bahut interior decoration bhee kartee hain. Next week we will be in India hoping to catch up with family and friends---to put a face to many voices who have been friends "beyond the call of duty", you know who you are!!!