Objets de rien

Most of our belongings arrived two days ago and are sitting scattered about the apartment (waiting for Q’ul to utilize them in his quest to single-handedly increase the entropy of flat 4B).  I’ve been here before.  Staring at boxes.  Preoccupied with whether I like that shirt, does it even fit anymore, and when did I purchase that?  It’s like re-living memories except that I just re-lived them about 3 months ago while packing.  The word culling (along with a vision of weak sheep being weeded out of the herd) comes to mind, and I apply the same logic to these mounds of material goods.  The Kolkata Kid becomes the Kolkata Kuller.

Is there a point in life where you start get rid of more things than you gain?  People get smaller because their bones start to shrink,  so why not the accumulation of material possessions?  Maybe I just need a professional decorator.  No, that can’t be it.  It’s that I just don’t get the idea of tchotchkes, of objects placed at feng shui angles on a coffee table so that there’s nowhere to place your drink.  I long for clean lines and a clean slate.

And what do you do with your new found reduction in material things?  We’ve all read the story of the woman in the U.S. who donated an old Mr. Goodbar t-shirt to CARE or some such organization only to see it hanging on the frame of an adolescent in a random developing world country.  “Hey that’s my t-shirt,” she exclaims to all her fellow tour bus riders.  The shirt is still hers.  It’s just in a different country.  Narcissism at its finest.

We’ve given many things to our nanny.  I think she enjoys these items.  I pray that I never see those leaf green, Ace-brand workpants again.



  1. greatest things on earth to explore for little Q’ul. No amount and variety of toys could top this! Could imagine his determined, adorable self, in his quest, wish we were there!


  2. totally agree with Mom. Actually, a swiss paediatrician recommends for babies to have very few, simple and NO battery-operated toys. Think Froebel and Free Play.


  3. I feel your pain! I’m just now getting to boxes full of old memories (and crap) that movers delivered two years ago and I’ve been paralyzed about what to do with them. Some of us, me included, hold on to things as as way of holding on to people, fleeting moments, and good times long since gone. If you can conquer this common human failing you will have accomplished a rare thing.

    And for the record, I would like to lodge an official protest on the backdoor naming of sweet little Q’ul! Kolkata Kid wins again!


  4. Objets de tout! Material goods are everything – don’t deny it. Not as status symbols but as evidence of a life-lived. Last night I had a truly unpretentious conversation with my next door neighbour whose apartment is equally filled with lovely, unmatching but meaningful ‘stuff’ from around the world. It wasn’t a question of showing off – just enjoying the apartment-as-story-of-my-life experience – great fun!


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