I had the original intention of updating this blog every week. But life got in the way. It probably will again, but at least today, I overcame the obstacles and posted. The idea has been to entertain, rather than report. I have been far too distracted to think up any good tales, though there has been much good material on hand.
First is the process of moving. Never have my Must-Do-Now lists been longer. Never have they been more scattered. Fix shower handle. Request Mail Forwarding. Ask bank about direct deposit signature requirements. Get Isaac to find his coat. Call back fellow who wants to buy a drill. Pack Everything. Store Everything. Leave a few books to read through December. Do not misplace brain.
Now, most of our work is done. Our belongings are packed. Our tenants have moved in. We’re staying with exquisitely gracious friends. We’re beginning to wait. While Jeannette still works, I am unemployed and we are technically homeless. The feeling is marvelous and unsettling—rich for contemplation. How much our thoughts find their shape from our surroundings. If the clothes make the man, what about the house? How about the car, the kitchen utensils, the books, the piles of magazines and papers? Sure, we choose to surround ourselves with these things, but then how do these things then shape us? I finally can see a genuine, heart-felt argument for modernist architecture. It’s a form of freedom, though one I’ve always found deadening due to the razor sharp lines. Perhaps there’s an opening here—to create an architecture that uses the living lines of Art Nouveau but distills them to the clean, uncluttered simplicity of Modernism. Sort of S-Curved Modernism. I could get into that.
Back at the end of October, I got our family visas for India, at the simple cost of a day in Manhattan, a lot of patience and $500. It was my first taste of Indian-style bureaucracy, which is not as bad as I had hoped. I mean wondered. The process was circuitous, difficult to fathom, expensive and exhausting. The dingy room was filled with a huge number of people, the sweat was not circulated out of the air, and there were no seats. But it was an essentially human process. People got mad and angry and sick up and fed with the bureaucrats, but there were also smiles and jokes and a general atmosphere that wasn’t unpleasant. Contrasting it with the Motor Vehicle Department in Connecticut, I never felt resented at the Indian Consulate.
After I pressed all four applications through the small hole in the 3 in. thick Plexiglas window, the clerk looked at my papers and said. “Oh, This is complicated” and set them to one side. After a long pause he looked up and said “You are complicated. She will deal with you” pointing to his fellow clerk. After another long pause (talk 15 minutes), the other clerk looked through our applications and pushed them back to me saying “Thank you. You need photocopy of your wife’s Green Card and Job Offer Letter. Come back tomorrow.” She seemed stunned, but also pleased when I produced both these things. She then sat down and paged through everything, saying “Yes, very complicated” now and again. Then she said with a genuine smile “Please wait here” and disappeared. Then she came back and said “Please wait 15 minutes.” So I did. Then after 25 minutes I asked her if she needed anything else to process the visas. She said “No, no. Please wait a minute.” So I did, confused, as she didn’t want anything else, but the completed visas were only to be picked up after 4:30pm. It was 10:45 am. So I asked her if I should come back at 4:30 pm. She replied “No, no, come back at 12:30.” So I did, and got our finished applications around 1pm, handed over with a warm smile. It was all very jolly frustration.
Far more importantly, though, I bought a motorcycle. The current pastor of the school is leaving, and sold me is Royal Enfield 535 Lightning. It’s a single cylinder, 25 bhp bike, with dual drum brakes. It’s the biggest motorcycle made in India. I can’t wait to put a sidecar on it, so the whole family can go “put-put-put” through the countryside. You can check out the specs here. Scroll to the bottom of the page.
The next post, I figure, will come to the surface after we arrive. There’s not much more to say at the moment.