Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Move, Part 1

The past week has primarily been one of anticipation and preparation for the move from the comfort and familiarity of the hotel into the relative unknown of the apartment.

On Wednesday, we decided it was time to start the transition from long-term business travelers to expatriates and finally ventured to our first Gurgaon Connection (a social group we joined comprised of expats) event, the weekly tea.  Even though it was located at the hotel we were staying, we had somehow found excuses to not join the first two Wednesdays we were here.  It was a primarily female (besides me, there was only one other dude, an attorney from Washington, D.C.), yet diverse group of people of varied ages and countries of origin.

Move day itself was sadly uneventful.  We both kept waiting for something crazy or unexpected to happen, and nothing really did.  All the finishing touches had been applied and the RO UV water filtration system had actually been installed.  “RO” stands for reverse osmosis and “UV” is like the rays from the sun.  Apparently, it’s the thing that keeps parasites, bacteria, and other unmentionables out of our consumable water and keeps us (hopefully) out of the hospital. 

Our apartment is considered “serviced”.  For those unaware of what that means (as I was until about 23 hours ago), it means that it’s furnished, holds an inventory of daily use items like small kitchen appliances and dishes, gets cleaned six days a week by a nice young gent named Sanjay, includes daily towel service, a daily newspaper (I requested my favorite, the “Hindustan Times”), and four or five different levels of phone numbers to utilize in the event we have issues.  In addition, it sounded like Sanjay will do some level of laundry and also deliver items needing pressing to some person in the basement that will apparently iron for Rs. 2 an item.  A little less than a nickel.

Based on a number of factors on a varying scale of importance, including both the size of the water heaters in the bathrooms and the amount of closet space in the master, we split up on our belongings to give one another space.  The net result is that it feels a little like we’re roommates at this point in time, but I’m sure we’ll grow accustomed to the setup.  Surprisingly, I “won” the right to the master closet and bathroom, though it must be recognized that this was “given” to me and not a simple assumption on my part.  Apparently the guest bathroom has better light.  One other quick tidbit about the bathrooms and the availability of hot water is that we have to switch the geezer 30 – 45 minutes before we want hot water.  Lindsay is looking forward to this as an official excuse to hit the snooze button.

The rest of Saturday was spent touring our nearest shopping haunts (all places that will surely be referred to throughout the next two years), including Galleria Market and Super Mart-I.  In addition, there is a small grocery store located within our apartment complex that has a surprising selection of produce and basic staple items.  Galleria was our first stop, where we visited at my newest favorite store, ElectriCity.  It’s like a cross between Best Buy and Home Depot with about 0.05% the square footage (that might be generous).  There we purchased an India coffee maker, which has already performed admirably.  From Galleria, we made the short drive to Super Mart-I where Lindsay attempted to get back in the bargaining mode.  Not successful.  Let’s just say she’s going to need a little work before she hits the pashmina stalls.  On the other hand, I successfully purchased a copy of George Clooney’s “Up in the Air” for Rs. 100 (approximately $2.17).  I’m pretty sure it’s not a bootleg because there’s a manufacturer’s suggested price of Rs. 199.  What kind of self respecting bootlegger would print a price on the package?  Totally legit.  Funny side story, the kid working the stall was having trouble understanding my English, so the kind customer next to me (who was purchasing porn that the kid pulled out from behind the table) helped broker the deal.

From the video stall we made our way to Needs grocery store, which comes highly recommended by all expats.  Within about four minutes, you just come to accept the fact that all packaging is dirty and that as long as it appears sealed, it’s worth rolling the dice and making the purchase.   Fifty bucks in groceries, ten bucks in produce, and two bottles of wine later, we made our way back home.
Part two of the move takes place tomorrow (Monday) when our air shipment arrives.  Slowly but surely we’re acclimating to the new lifestyle.  The most striking difference between “hotel life” and “serviced-apartment life” in the winter is undoubtedly the temperature.  Simply put; it’s cold.  As I close this entry, Lindsay is sitting next to me, reading a travel magazine, fully clothed, yet still wearing her robe – perhaps this IS just like home.

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