The popular choice of the first Japanese author for many people would be Haruki Murakami; but for me, I first picked up the small book by the Zen Buddhist monk Shoukei Matsumoto “A Monk’s Guide to a Clean House and Mind” 👉Adding meaning to daily chores (Buddhist approach) 🧹 as a window of motivation for cleaning and organizing around the house.
Earlier this year in January 2022 I was at my apartment in Kochi having planned a week long stay with the sole aim of cleaning up the place. A week for just cleaning 😬 !? Definitely not an enticing prospect; there were no family functions scheduled, no plans visiting of the extended family and no shopping expeditions. Normally, it’s the other way round, cleaning would be squeezed in when at Kochi for one of the above activities and as a result the tidying up would be hurried and cursory; with no feeling of satisfaction at the end of the activity, “There is so much more to do ! I need more time !” 😏 I would tell myself. And this time, it was going to be a deliberate activity. I was actually looking forward to it.
It’s been almost three years since the apartment was last cleaned; almost two years since I have set foot inside; inter-state travel from Bangalore was avoided during the two years of pandemic. Prior to that, I was in and out, just to spend a night at the flat, to attend a family function and off the next day; no time for getting sweaty and dusty. The years of neglect was very visible, there was a lot of dust and dirt everywhere !
In addition to the layers of dust, the floor had water stains from rain water flowing in through a window. The windows frames, furniture, surfaces, lights, fans were all covered in dust. The balcony was a field of dirt. And the cleaning was going to take a lot of time and effort. And this was just the outside.
Inside the cupboards were stacked with stuff from the yesteryears – clothes, books, stationery, papers, linen, unopened housewarming gifts, plastic containers, glass containers still holding the spices and powders in the kitchen cupboards. In the course of our relocation to Bangalore we took with us only suitcases packed with the necessary clothes; everything else to set up a home was purchased new. The Kochi apartment remained a storehouse of everything we left behind; I was hoping to make time someday, go back and sort things out. And that someday never seemed to come around. Allocating precious holidays to the task of sorting and cleaning up the apartment seemed a waste. Who does that when you can travel during the holidays !?
It was now or never. I wanted to sort through the stuff in the cupboards first; get rid of the unwanted items and then focus on the cleaning up. And for the cleaning part, I called professional cleaners; the house could use a thorough deep clean. The professional cleaners would complete the job within a day; it was too much work for me to do alone.
Needless to say, it was a sweaty and labourious work, but I enjoyed every minute of it; it was exhilarating and freeing to get rid of all the stuff. The soon empty cupboards gave a sense of peace and immense satisfaction.
To keep me going in the process of discarding and sorting, I listened to a free audiobook titled Goodbye Things by the Japanese author Fumio Sasaki. It was a fantastic book ! It added the fuel to the fire 🔥. And then as a sequel which had to be even better, I listened to the audiobook The LIfe Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. Both the audiobooks were fabulous🎧 and they helped get through the arduous task of cleaning up.
Heaps of stuff was discarded. There was man who came to pick up the old books, metal stuff, plastic and glass. All the papers were shred and burnt in the apartment’s incinerator. I gave away the old dresses and saris which could still be worn and the rest was disposed off. The only thing I couldn’t get rid off was the electronic stuff; there were e-waste processing units in Kochi, but the stuff had to be dropped off there, so maybe another time.
It took almost five days to go through the stuff in every cupboard, sort out the stuff, discard majority of it and finally store well what was left behind. After that the cleaners came in.
The professional cleaners was an excellent idea; they came with all the cleaning tools and set about the task with practised perfection. They started with the innermost bedroom and worked their way out. The windows, doors, cupboard doors and tops, fan, light, wall hangings were dusted and cleaned; the bathroom made spick and span, vacuumed the upholstery and finally cleaned the floor of the bedroom. To clean the floor, they removed all the movable furniture out, vacuumed the dust, sprinkled soap water on the floor; cleaned the floor with the floor machine and then mopped all the water away. After finishing one room, they closed the door so that the dust from the next room didn’t fly in.
I don’t think I would have had the energy to clean after all the sorting and discarding and am so glad to have got help. The vitrified tiles on the floor are gleaming, the windows are clear and the place is dust free; clean inside and outside.
A tidying event worth the time and effort; a great start to the new year and yes, it can be life changing !
Till next post, take care !!