Last night, my mother handed me a complicated-looking form and said, “You need to fill this up. It’s insurance for the contents of your house.” So I sat down and tried to think of all the things that we had bought and ordered for the new house: electrical appliances, furniture, even the cabinet and closet fittings that an interior designer had mapped out. Then I had to figure out which of these items would be classified as (a) Electronic and Electrical Appliances, (b) Furniture, Furnishings, Fixtures and Fittings, and (c) Kitchen Equipment and Appliances. Then I had to add in things that I had forgotten, such as the lights (b), computers (a), and the hand-me-down coffee machine from my father (c). And then I was told to include (d) Personal Effects, such as any personal belongings that cost more than RM2000. By the time I signed the form, I was frustrated with the house all over again.
Moving — or in this case, preparing to do so — is a pain in the [insert body part of choice], especially when it’s your first house and you don’t get much help because the only people who can help you are busy preparing their own new house too. There is a lot of trial-and-error, stab-in-the-dark guesswork involved, and it is (to me) one of the greatest untapped secrets of anger management.
Over the past four months, my weekends have been overtaken by trips to furniture stores, furniture exhibitions, and Starbucks outlets to meet with an interior designer whom my dad hired to plan both his new house in Klang and mine in Challis Damansara. On average, half the conversations I have had with my parents are about the new house and what can, should and will be done to it. In total, these conversations were probably equivalent to about 180 hours of anger management therapy. Now, with just a week to go before I move into the house, I have come to deduce that:
- Nothing will make you realize how very fortunate you are more than the knowledge that you are setting up your very own home.
- That said, it’s always, always easier to go shopping alone, whether it’s for clothes, groceries, or furniture for your new house.
- People don’t particularly want to hear what you want for your new house. They’re just interested in stating what they think you should have in your new house, and what they plan to give you for your new house, such as a granite dining table which was originally ordered for their house but was discovered to be too small. Whether you actually planned to have a granite dining table in the first place is not the point.
- When someone thinks you should have something, but isn’t forthcoming enough to just give it to you because it’s not right for their house, they will perpetually hint at it, until you have to be forthcoming yourself and tell them that mirrors with lighted frames are tacky and a living room that will be mostly black, gray and white doesn’t need another solid dark oak coffee table.
- Clearly, you are not allowed time to think about what you want or whether you want it.
- People are going to be thick-skinned and remind you to invite them to your housewarming party. The thicker-skinned ones will tell you that you ought to have a housewarming party and that they would be happy to attend. The absolutely persistent ones will tell you that it’s recommended for Chinese to have housewarming parties because when they ‘open up their homes to people, they will bring with them their ong (luck)’. Questions such as “What if these people are sui (cursed)?” will fall on deaf ears.
- Nothing will hone your organization skills more effectively than planning the renovation and decoration of a new house.
- Feng shui has a way of making even the most rational of people behave like complete fools.
Unless I am presented with an opportunity to leave this country — and I have never been so desperate for one — I now hope with all my might that I will be staying put in this house for at least a good few years, because I can’t imagine having to plan something like this all over again anytime soon. However, as I mentioned before, this has allowed me to dust off my organization skills like never before, not to mention curb my temper because it would never do to fall into one of my blind rages in front of, say, the man who does the curtains.
8 days to the Big Move!
Yes, 8 days as determined by my father’s feng shui consultant.