I sold a lot of books before I moved to LA. A ton of reference books, lots of comics that I knew I would be able to buy again or owned multiple copies of, a bunch of books I was pretty sure I won’t read again. There was also a year of minimal book-buying – I think I bought about 5 or 6 books in 2010, just because it was getting out of hand.
It took about a year to move my books here. I was undecided about whether I should cart them off to my parents’ or my sister’s place. Chandru, over in Chennai, offered to put them in cold storage in a room at the office, but I wasn’t sure how I would get them over. A lot of people had conflicting opinions to offer about moving stuff to the US. Some said books in bulk were not allowed to be imported, others reported packages being returned to India after months of sitting in customs. I spoke with second-hand book sellers – none of them had experience taking books into the US, just exporting them out of the States. Thankfully, pal Ajanta had no problems babysitting the books, but time was running out – even she was to move out by end of the year.
I am not sure how I stumbled onto the R2I forums, but that got things moving. Based on the positive experiences people had with movers in some sticky threads, I emailed a couple of the names mentioned there. 21st Century Relocations, based out of New York was the first to respond, and their responses left me pretty confident that they would do a good job. They went to the apartment one weekend, sent me a reasonable quotation and a week later, packing was complete. I did not even have to mail a check, just sending a scan was enough. Had to printout, sign and scan in a boatload of documents, but they did all the running-around for customs clearance. Things got a little complicated because my departure ticket to LA was not a direct flight – I had to stop at Romania for a month, and my ticket was through Delhi, while the books were in Bangalore.
But it all went well, and by end of November, the books were enroute.
They arrived end of January, in a truck whose size made me very nervous about whether all the books would fit in the apartment. But fit they did, though my room looked like a cardboard hurricane hit it.
I had a Minor Adventure while buying bookshelves from Ikea, where the gentlemen with the pick-up truck decided to hijack my items and go make three other deliveries on the way. With me in the truck too, of course. And then proceeded to give me a ride to a movie theater, with a convoluted 20 mile side-track. It was a weird day.
In the course of the week, shelves were assembled, cartons were unpacked, muffled curses echoed through my chambers. It’s not an easy task, arranging 70-odd packages of books on your own, but I managed. Strangely, I managed not to get distracted by the books I hadn’t seen in a year. Though I confess I felt complete when I arranged the Walter Moers volumes on the top shelf, and smiled at the Tom Sharpe collection, putting them aside to reread Riotous Assembly and Indecent Exposure. Srividya Natarajan’s No Onions Nor Garlic joined the maybe-I-will-read-soon pile, as did the Lee Siegel books. Some left me rolling my eyes – what on earth was I thinking when I bought the Clarke Gable biography (called Long Live the King) or the book on Obie award-winning plays. Or the piles of Star Wars novels. Oh well, at least 2004-version of me must have been a happy camper.
And it was done. Almost. The comics and manga were in my room, and the books went to the living room. The DVDs (the manageable pile of originals that I had the nerve to get into the States, the rest being disposed off quite some time ago) were still packed (2 boxes), and about 4 more boxes of comics remained still – I had run out of shelf-space. There was no way I was going back to Ikea any time soon, and so these boxes remained unpacked for a few weeks, affecting my zen calm every time I entered my room. Last weekend, I figured I had had enough – went to Target, bought a non-Ikea shelf and finally, finally, it was done. My preciouses were home! मेरा पिया घर आया! やった!
And now, presenting a bunch of pictures. Whee!