The New Home

Central heating, faux wooden floor, water you can drink straight off the tap, hot running water 24 hours a day etc. are just some of those things that the developed world takes for granted but are nothing short of luxury for someone from middle-class India moving abroad. I am divided between enjoying it all and not getting too used to it.

Our house faces east which means that one day we’ll wake up around 5:00 AM and see a beautiful dawn. We are up by 6:30 - 7:00 AM these days and on a cloudless day the sun is already in our face by then.

The thing we love most about our new place is the view of the waterfront. We are practically at the bank of the IJ (pronounced like egg with both gs silent) - a water body that was once a bay but is now a river that connects to the North Sea. Since both me and my wife grew up and lived in land-locked cities all our lives, the fascination with large volumes of moving water is probably not unnatural.

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Hundreds of boats, ships, ferries and all manner of things, which must have a proper noun in the naval dictionaries but are merely man-made fast-moving floating objects for us, cross the IJ every day.

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There are vessels of both the sea-faring and the sea-fearing kind.

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Once in a while a large cruise ship would pass us by. The people standing on the decks of these ships look down on (in the most literal sense) our 5th floor apartment.

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[These pictures convey the scale of things poorly. A 100% crop of a small section of the ship will probably do a better job.]

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Needless to say that sitting on our couch and looking out into the river takes a considerable amount of our time these days. The charm of the view is magnified during the evening when the sun is in the west and lights up entire stretch of water and illuminates every ship passing with a golden-orange light. But the magic of the river is strongest at night when the lights come on at the other side of the river and the ships gently drift across the water, their lights reflecting in the water.

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While our apartment was fully furnished - right down to a fast internet connection - it was missing a bookshelf. Those handful of books that we count among our worldly possessions, had to lie packed in the guestroom for a few days. Then on one weekend we took a metro ride to the nearest IKEA and got ourselves a small wooden shelf. We were constrained not by the number of books we wanted to keep, but by the weight we could lug home in a small trolley in the metro. Assembling it at home was a lot of fun too. The material is exactly what we paid for (all of 20 €) and yet it has the sort of fit and finish which we would struggle to find for double the price at home (I am looking at you Infantry Road).

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The journey from a house to a home is now complete.

June 7, 2011