So we finished our move from the service apartment to the house where we will be living the rest of our time in India. Except that we are no longer in India it seems, but this strange mongerel of a place that seems like a cross between India and suburban Orlando. It really looks like a condo village near Disney world and considering that just outside the gate on Varthur Road is the typical hustle, bustle, poverty and dirt of India, it is a really strange combination.
I think that the architects watched Leave it To Beaver one too many times when designing the place; with its wide, immaculate streets, sidewalks set back from the street, American style and palm trees everywhere. It gets stranger. The people, wherther they are Indian, German, American, Korean or whatever also seem straight out of an idealized suburban American neighborhood circa 1960. People use the sidewalks – in large numbers – to stroll around, socialize, go to the store, etc. In the evenings, it seems that everyone is out for a stroll and there is a sound of children playing everywhere.
One of the other residents, who also happens to be a parent of one of Charlottes’s classmates said to us, “Welcome to the Republic of Palm Meadows”. Does this mean we commute to India now?
Amazingly, the customs brokers actually showed up last night with our household goods. They had about half a dozen guys; some where customs brokers and some were truck drivers. One of them was even barefoot. They would not let me carry anything. When I went to grab a box and carry it up, they were adamant, “no Sir”! Dani and I had a bit of consternation with one another about whether or not we should tip “them”, who of them (she said not the brokers, but the drivers) and how much. Just as I was about to pull the leader aside and how much I should tip his movers, I saw him tip the mover. I can’t express the relief I felt. This gives me an idea for a new line of work here. Tipping consultant for expats!
Everything was still in the air freight palette when it arrived. Customs never even looked in it. In this regard, I am pleased that BLI’s computer systems did not work the day Daniela went to clear it through customs. They usually rifle through all of the boxes at customs. Instead, I did that at home, grabbing the most important items; namely Charlotte’s stuffed sheep, Sammy’s Legos and wooden train tracks, my coffee press and “real” coffee mugs (not the tiny 100ml things we have been using), namely our easiest to replace Starbucks city mugs; i.e. Heidelberg, Frankfurt, New York and Philly. The harder to replace ones, such as the Barcelona mug that Holger brought back from Spain last month, were left behind in Rotenberg, lest they be destroyed by the movers. We’ll leave the rest in boxes until we find a proper apartment.
Sammy was asleep when the movers delivered everything last night. This morning, when he work up, it was like Christmas. He was wide eyed and exited to have his favorite toys back.
I’m about to unplug and pack the router, so this is my last post from Germany. This time tomorrow, we will be in the air, somewhere over Eastern Europe. My next post will be from Bangalore.
I just stepped outside to take a couple of snapshots of Rotenberg before we leave. I have no idea what it will look like at the destination.
The past few days have been a whirlwind. The movers came on Wednesday morning. We were told that we were allowed 428kg (1000 pounds) by the contractor, but when the movers showed up, they told us 350 and that the other 78 was a buffer. This caused a bit of last second stress as we had to cut some less important things out. Some of my books are staying. The kids’ bikes are staying and we’ll be buying plates in India. We eventually came in at 346 kg. The movers were both as old as my father, which caused no end to my consternation. My 50 pound boxes of books are supposed to be hauled by strapping 20 year olds, not guys who should be retired and living on the Costa Del Sol. Afterwards, Sammy bragged to his friends about how his stuff was on a ship on the way to India. pssst… Sammmy! It’s even cooler… they are on an airplane (or will be next week)
Yesterday I cleaned out my desk and this morning I gave back the company car. That is a weird feeling. It is almost as if I’m cutting ties and could walk away. I last felt like this eight years ago when I left the North Country and started the drive to Missouri. I did not have this feeling when I left MO for Germany as I simply hated Missouri with a burning passion.
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Dani just got off the phone with the relocation consultancy. We’re already going to meet with them next Tuesday. Considering that the plane lands around midnight on Tuesday morning, this is an ambitious day that we’ll be getting ourselves into; a few hours sleep, breakfast and then off to an afternoon of house hunting.
The consultant who is going to show us around… his name is Buddy.
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We have an interesting problem. Our employer has contracted with a moving company to ship some of our household goods to India for us. Our weight limit is about 400kg (1000 lb). We will mostly be shipping clothes, children’s’ toys and my PC.
But… India seems to have an interesting bureaucracy. We can’t actually ship our stuff from Germany to India until we have registered our presence there. It is not enough to have the visa, so we can’t pre-ship and have our stuff in transit while we are in transit. First we have to acquire lots of stamps and signatures. Only then are we allowed to ship our household items and we have a 15 day window to get it to India. This means that our thousand pounds of stuff has to go by air, rather than ship if it is going to reliably arrive during this window. I don’t think the lawmakers who came up with this regulation care about either the environment or sparing people needless costs. I’m not paying the bill, but it does seem silly to have to burn ten tons of jet fuel to get a vanload of household items to India.
Everyone in the family is both nervous and exited, except one. Charlotte is not at all thrilled to be leaving her friends for a year. She has campaigned off and on to not go to India. For a long time, she did not even mention it to her friends; as is not telling anyone would make it not happen. Her teacher says that she has become irritable lately in class and this morning she cried before school. She only has two more days of school after today. The kids have vacation next week and then we fly. In comparison, Sammy is easy. We simply had to tell the little mountain lover about the Himalayas, tell the little jet fighter connoisseur about the air show in Bangalore in February and promise to go on a tiger safari. He was sold.
She is going to have the hardest time of everyone, so we are going to have to make an extra effort to find her friends there as soon as possible.