After waiting to unlock life for several months, that’s when we started our new life all over again after our return to India. From Feb 2020 to October 2020, it was a very long wait. But, we were glad the wait was finally over. Kia’s dad anticipated that he might have to continue work from India as we could not reach Toronto due to the exiting lockdown situation. And, he was right. He did get the official news to join work here in India.
This news brought a bag of mixed feelings. The thought of not flying to Toronto saddened us a bit. On the other hand, it made us happy because we didn’t have to travel such a long distance in this critical pandemic situation. Another aspect that gave us relief was the fact that we will continue to be together as a family. Even if Kia’s dad had managed to reach Toronto by a Vande Bharat Flight, we could have not joined him owing to our visa status. And it was unclear when we would reunite as the Canadian government had prohibited all non-essential travel and was not allowing visitors to enter Canada. So it felt better to not go through all these hassles and just stay where we were.
After letting the whole thing sink in, it was time for action. First and foremost, Ravi had to get tickets to fly to Toronto (can you believe it!) to settle the apartment lease he signed back in February and get all the stuff back he left there when he had a short trip to the city to settle everything before Kia and I moved there. So, there began the chase. With three mobile phones and three laptops to do the job, we finally managed to get one ticket on a Vande Bharat flight.
Ravi flew after 3 days and wrapped up everything (like settling the apartment lease & selling off all the household stuff he had bought) in Toronto before finally moving back to India. His flight was one of the most uncomfortable ones with a mask and a shield on his face for an almost 24-hour journey and a PPE kit for some part of it.
But that was not all. He even had to quarantine in a hotel for seven days and then seven days at home. By god’s grace, he did not develop any symptoms and was completely fine.
All of this was just the first stage of our new beginning. Next, we had to plan our move to Pune city. During the entire lockdown period, we stayed in Mumbai at my parent’s place. But now it was time to move out. The pandemic situation was still not better. In fact, Pune had more Covid-19 cases than Mumbai. That’s why it was important to plan our move in such a way so that we had minimum risk.
Three major things had to be worked out before our move. An apartment, a good school, and household goods. Here is how we tackled each one.
We started apartment hunting as soon as Ravi returned home. As we couldn’t go out during his home quarantine period, we utilized this time to look up various apartment renting websites. Narrowing down the area to live in was not that difficult as we wanted to stay close to work.
Next, we called up homeowners whose apartments we were interested in and fixed appointments for the next weekend. Saturday was the day for house hunting. Ravi and I drove to Pune early in the morning and looked around 7-8 apartments. We had decided to finalize an apartment the same day so that we didn’t have to run around again. Luckily, by the end of the day, we settled on one and signed the lease for our new apartment.
Social media groups and forums were of great help in identifying some good schools in and around our neighborhood. I emailed a few of them to enquire if they were taking mid-term admissions. After getting a positive response, I was a little relieved but still worried as Kia had not completed the academic year in the US. And after being stuck in Mumbai for several months she had a long academic gap. Though, I made sure it didn’t affect her. During the lockdown, I homeschooled her and even taught her basic Hindi language which proved to be a huge plus when she resumed schooling in India.
After one week of moving to Pune and settling the apartment a little bit, we took a tour of two shortlisted schools. Keeping in mind that this entire year was going to be virtual learning, we finalized the school that would take a couple of minutes more to reach when in-person school starts next year. Thankfully, Kia didn’t have much trouble adjusting to the whole virtual learning thing and is enjoying her classes every single day.
Household Goods and Furniture
This was something we didn’t have to think about much as we had our furniture and other household items packed and stored safely when we were first moving to the US. It had come to our minds to sell the stuff while we were there but didn’t have the means to do so. This turned out to be a blessing as we didn’t have to incur expenses buying furniture and other stuff now that we were back. The only thing we had to arrange was a reliable transportation company to transfer our goods from Mumbai to Pune the same day we move. A couple of inquiries from various movers and packers helped us in getting a good quote with same-day delivery.
After getting these three things worked out, we were ready to make the move. Packing around ten bags of luggage once again was no fun, but we had to do it. Pandemic made our move a little more difficult. We had to be extra cautious with everything. I had ordered a week’s grocery in advance at my mom’s place so that I could leave it under quarantine for a couple of days before actually using it. Vegetables and other perishable items were also cleaned and stored beforehand to reduce my workload while unpacking at our new place.
On October 17th, 2020, we finally left Mumbai to start a new life in Pune after a very long time. It took us almost a month to sort out our stuff and settle the apartment.
This move was not something we were expecting and ready for, but now that we are here, the sense of being settled gives a lot of relief and peace. I have always loved Pune for its vibe and weather. Now I hope, with this new beginning, Kia enjoys it here too!