Spring cleaning

After being annoyed non-stop by the noise from the construction in the neighboring site, I moved to my original smaller room. By original, I mean that that room was intended for my occupation and the bigger one for my brother’s. Like with all such plans, this one also unraveled such that both the rooms were empty until I moved back in 2011 and promptly took up the bigger room. This room contained my bed, bookshelf, work shelf and the wardrobe. The smaller one now has space for my bed and my work shelf. I could put my bookshelf here, but that would be a bit of a squeeze.

Having done that, today, 2nd of October, I decided to do some cleaning up. I had 5 drawers spread across 2 different rooms containing various stuff I had accumulated over the years. So there went the entire morning sifting through and tearing up stuff.

It was an interesting exercise, in that it was a trip back through memory, all the way till 2002. Surprisingly the only documents I accumulated till 2002 were the marks sheets and certificates for SSLC, PUC and Engineering. Soon after, there were appointment letters for joining Huawei, multiple challans in Chinese for withdrawing money from Bank of China in Shenzhen, a bill from Taj restaurant, Shenzhen, a passbook with 2 entries, one to withdraw 1500 Yuan and the next where the money came back into the account – my only and failed attempt at withdrawing money from a Chinese ATM. I discarded all those challans and kept the passbook for posterity. Sometimes not everything is easily discarded even though they have no meaning. I guess I won’t need them anymore, just over ten years after my return from Shenzhen.

There were multiple documents, surprisingly large, for my travel to Dubai which lead to this post. Surprisingly little from my Beijing experience. Maybe because it was less time spent there, but I think I had a debit card there and didn’t run around collecting withdrawal challans with red seals.

Then turned up the innumerous documents to get my Australian Visa done for my masters. This is the point where the documents started exploding. Affidavits from parents, from brother, notarized documents, letter from bank saying they’re giving loan (which I had to run around a lot to get in the right format, and also involved a huge argument between my Bank manager and the agent in IDP doing the filing for Visa). Letters from RMIT ‘advising’ me that I was a student now and innumerous help guides and course guides to help me in my experience with various forms of advice. Love how the Australians use the term ‘advice’ so much compared to the US or India.

These then morphed into communications in Australia – notices for amount of fees to be paid, payslips while working in RMIT, other communication from the University, DIMIA(Immigration department), the immigration lawyer processing my Permanent Residence application. All sent to three different addresses – Armadale, Malvern and Caulfield South. The Masters Certificate is proof for and result of that period, the payslips were kept in case I need something and my Permanent Residence has been dead for more than a year now. There were a few certificates of Merit for each semester that also survived and an RMIT University Hang-tag which they sent along when they posted me a merit certificate to the US. An IELTS answer sheet, one I took while in Australia turned up. It had a perfect 9 for writing and speaking, which the lawyer had gone around showing everyone in the office saying he had never seen it before. That got saved for ego massage purposes when feeling blue. The rest were ruthlessly torn and discarded. Still can’t believe it has been more than 6 years since my leaving Australia!

The stay in the US produced surprisingly few documents. But then I guess that was a different era and I had grown beyond maintaining tons of documents. Living alone, I had collected those that I needed and discarded almost everything when returning. It also helped that I had arrived at a time when there were few documents being posted and everything started moving to your email inbox. My tax documents, last few documents from Microsoft like payslips were all in PDFs and moved to cloud storage like Dropbox. The main ones were the paperwork for Visa interviews – two sets. I tore them up and burned them.

Beyond all this, there were the useless ones like lots and lots of ATM withdrawal slips from Bangalore ATMs, business cards given by people you can’t remember anymore, appraisal documents which you carried forward with a vengeance, hotel slips reminding you of stays and holidays spent there, some random photos, credit card statements, etc. There were even complete sheets of Mock-CAT questionnaires and answer sheets.

The one thing I found interesting was a 4 page writeup of some events when in China, when SARS was raging through. Some of us employees had decided to return stealthily to India and I had chronicled those events in some sheets of paper. Was surprised that those still existed, but with one missing sheet. I guess I’ll have to digitize that for posterity. Will make a blog-post of it in future.

Things I couldn’t find and feeling bad about was my IIM-L offer letter, the only proof that I actually made it to an IIM and didn’t take it. The sole document offering me bragging rights over any self-righteous IIMians I might run into. But I know its there, I remember keeping it safe somewhere, just need to find it. I know I didn’t tear it this time.

It was a strangely nostalgic experience, to go over documents that were current and valid once, urging you to do something – demanding money, demanding response, demanding more documents. Those that survived are the ones that we worked for eventually – the Certificates qualifying you for life, experience in coveted companies and of course, almost Twainishly – Tax documents.


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