Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone! I apologize for how long it’s been since my last post. It’s been quite an experience moving into our apartment!
We spent our first night in our apartment December 16th and it’s been a slow process getting settled in since then. If we could say anything about it, we would sum it up as one huge learning curve in expectations.
I’ll start with the cleaning. Everything is dirty. Everything. All the time. And for those of you who know me, you know I like a clean, well-kept home. So this has been my first reality check.
Michael took time off from work for my birthday and Christmas, but we had no idea we would be spending that entire time cleaning. I mean, I realize when you move into a new place there is always some cleaning to be done, but this reaches a whole other level.
I’ll acknowledge that the amount of cleaning was so surprising partly because our apartment is quite large compared to what we had in the U.S. We lived in a 800-something square foot apartment back in Kansas. Upgrade that to a 2800-something square foot apartment and my cleaning regiment just increased by nearly four times.
But the bigger issue is that we live in a different environment now. Suburban America is very clean with virtually no pollution (I know, I know, you may think you have pollution, but trust me, you don’t). The air quality in Delhi, on the other hand, is very poor. There are a number of reasons why, but the result is that all countertops and basically anything else with an exposed surface also has to be dusted on a daily basis. That includes the light switches, outlets, doors, plants, or anything else we leave out uncovered. Even our groceries must be wiped down before we put them away. Everything is coated in dust everywhere you go.
|The bottoms of my slippers at about the half-day mark|
Delhi is also a very dirty place – as in literal dirt is everywhere. It gets on your clothes, your linens, your walls – everything. And because of that, our floors, which are entirely marble – with the exception of the laminate wood flooring in our master bedroom – requires daily mopping. And even though they may be mopped every morning, by the end of the day our slippers and socks are entirely black with dirt.
The bathrooms alone are a day-long job. We were told by one of our neighbors that he believes our apartment had been vacant somewhere around two years. And it was probably during that time that the hard water stains we have found in the bathrooms accumulated.
|The living room balcony|
Of course the lack of drinkable water is probably one of the more notorious problems plaguing India, but the poor water quality is also hard on marble and other home fixtures.
Marble on average costs about $1-$3 a square foot in India, so it’s the flooring of choice in most homes. It has a cool surface that makes it great for the sustained 120°F degree temperatures in Delhi – but it’s easily etched and damaged by acid or calcium build-up from water. Unfortunately I’ve had to resort to using harsh chemicals to remove the stains in the bathrooms, which in turn has taken away the polish of the marble. But, I see that as a small price to pay in order to have clean bathrooms.
So the initial cleaning of our apartment has been an incredible task (and one that is still not complete). But whatever problems existed before didn’t suddenly stop with our arrival either…
The second part of this whole moving-in process involves (and apparently will continue to involve) having various plumbing and electrical work done. I can count on one hand the amount of days we’ve gone without a repairman or representative from LG or Whirlpool or Daikin or Venus in our apartment. There is constantly someone working on a geyser (or what’s officially known as a storage water heater), installing something, fixing leaks, tinkering with the electrical wiring, replacing an appliance or fixture, or more recently moving furniture into our apartment.
|Booze I found hidden under one of
the bathroom sinks
And unfortunately, they usually don’t clean up after they’ve “completed” a job. We have been told that this might be due to the “nanny culture” that exists here. Even if you weren’t affluent enough to have an Ayah as a child, you still had a mother or older sister who took on the task of cleaning up after you. So while it seems disrespectful (and oh believe me, I really struggle on this note), it simply does not even enter their mind that they should be responsible for the mess they make.
So there are almost always wet bootprints randomly left throughout the halls and rooms. If they’ve been working on a geyser, there are usually puddles of standing water that need to be squeegeed into a drain. When they installed the curtain tracks, they obviously needed to drill holes in the wall to mount the rods – but they didn’t bother to sweep up the piles of wood and drywall all over the floor. Same story when the DSL was installed.
|Geyser explosion? Not to worry!
Ashley to the rescue!
Recently the pipe exiting the geyser in the kitchen burst from the wall, spewing gallons (liters, if you please) of water all over our dishwasher and microwave. In a matter of seconds we had water running under the kitchen door and out into the hallway coming towards the bedrooms and dining room. And if once wasn’t enough, it happened again the following morning 5 minutes after the plumber had “fixed” the problem and left.
Throw into the mix communication barriers, incomplete or poor quality workmanship, people not arriving when they say they will, and you have your work cut out for you. Not to mention, nothing is just a quick fix. At any given time, there are at least four people involved in fixing a problem – and if they can shift responsibility to another party, they usually will. It all takes hours and multiple trips to the market so the repairmen can go to get “more parts”.
|You put the pipe IN the hole. Simple,
And since you never know when a repairman will return, it makes it nearly impossible to plan to goto the store or leave the apartment. (Once again, this seems to be a symptom of the “nanny culture”. Most people expect that even if the owners are not home, there will still be a household manager, or at the very least a housekeeper available to receive visitors or repairmen.)
So despite the fact we’ve been here since October, it just now feels like we’re getting our feet wet (no pun intended!).
There are some mornings when we wake up, groan and say to ourselves: “I am sooo not in the mood for India today!” But looking at the big picture and not fixating on all the little things going wrong make a big difference. (All that talk about this being an investment and not just an experience is really hitting home.)
Our time here will be what we make it. Being intentional with taking our troubles to Jesus in prayer and letting His grace rule our lives is the only way, as far as I can see, to avoid becoming bitter or depressed. And thankfully God has supplied us with a close network of friends who are also going on this journey alongside us.
The good news is our ocean shipment from home is supposed to be delivered this Friday and the rest of our permanent furniture should arrive Saturday. It’ll be like Christmas, except we know exactly what we’re getting…… or will we? 😉