Friday, October 26, 2007


Having recently moved house (yes, again)I had to undergo the rather painful job of packing, cleaning, unpacking and cleaning some more. As I ripped apart the many, many boxes we lugged with us I wondered how I would answer the standard question asked of celebrities in inane magazines "What is the one thing you would take with you if your home burned down?" Not exactly the most cheerful thought I agree, but hey, it was raining and cloudy and I tend to get like that when the weather is on a downward spiral.

So what would I take? Most of you are thinking 'Her shoes'. No, not really. I mean I really love them but most of my shoes are replaceable. Not my clothes, no wardrobe means new wardrobe. My notebooks perhaps with my many scribblings and doodlings? Probably. But what about all the irreplaceable seemingly meaningless bric-a-brac that crowds my existance? The little post it notes my sister wrote me years and years ago that I have saved? Those black and white photographs of my mother when she was about six? That letter. What about my sambhar stained copy of The Best of Cook and See? My stuffed mouse (not a 'real' stuffed mouse) who has been by my bed side since I was 9? The more I thought about it, the more I worried. I'd need another moving truck to get everything I wanted to save in a fire out of there. Traumatised by this notion I went and checked that the fire alarm was on.

So I ask you, what would you save in a fire?


anantha said...

What about my sambhar stained copy of The Best of Cook and See?

You have an English translation of "Samaithu Paar" or have you just translated the title? I so want to have get an English version if its available. Very difficult to ezhuthu kooti padichify "uppumo laguthip pilli" in Tamil when I have a 10 second window to add these and shut the stove down.

Doggeroo said...

I would take Chinnai, Puli, Charlie, Gundumani and my laptop. Madhu can fend for himself. :P

prakash said...

So I ask you, what would you save in a fire?

Insurance papers :-)

anantha : are u referring to samaithu pAr by the famous Meenakshi Ammal?. The translated version 'Cook & See' is kind of a best seller and is available in all major book shops.

Broom said...

passport and file cabinet.
camera & old photos.
and my books.

Charu said...

ouch, how does one prioritize in such circumstances? i would probably grab my husband's hand first :) and then my wallet and laptop? perhaps? mobile phone... I don't really know...

btw, have you been reading these accounts of what people have been saving in the California fires... very moving...

Terri said...

1. Children
2. Dog
3. Husband

anantha said...

Thanks Prakash. I will make that call to my mom now :)

avataram said...

In "un homme et une femme" jean-louis trintignant asks a fabulous anouk aimee the question that alberto giacometti asked first (when you name drop, you should do it like me), "Your house is burning, you have a cat and a rembrandt, you can just save one, which one would it be?". anouk aimee says the cat, and jean-louis falls in love.

Mumbaiwallah said...

I had the same thought a few months ago when I was sure I heard some noises in the apartment past midnight. If I was burgled (or if there was a fire), I'd miss my laptop the most. It has my writing, notes to self and irreplaceable photos.

Since that night I've begun taking back-ups on a removable hard disk. Might grab that too on the way out. I'd miss my books - but there are too many to play favorites in a crisis.

Everything else can be replaced, I guess...

I'm quite happy to let my diaries burn :)

(on a holiday in India and trying to get rid of decades worth of paper in Mum's house)

Falstaff said...

Wasn't there a Terry Pratchett novel that had Granny Weatherwax asking this question of everyone?

As I remember it, the winning answer (so to speak) went like this:

"If you could take one thing out of a burning house, what would it be?"

"The fire."

Kusum Rohra said...

Passport,Cell phone, i-pod, books, er but if I do take the books then I guess I will choke and die before I collect all of them :(

??! said...

Dammit. Falsie swiped my answer.

Aarthi said...

ahaa...asking the age old question!
Interestingly this weeks cover section on Time (magazine) deals with the same question (wrt the california fires)
In all honesty...I would make a grab for the following if I had 30 seconds left(assuming there is no family left behind in the house)--
There is something to be said for common know!
If I had more than 30 secs..pretty much everything is fair game!

Anonymous said...

So weird that you ask this q'n. Just last week, I was faced with a situation where we could have been asked to evacuate because of the wildfires near where we live.

Packed snacks, water, first aid kit,wallets,laptop,photographs, passports,insurance papers,degree certificates and my son's baby book.

mg said...

Husbans, sisters, myself.

Ravages/CC said...

What would I save?
Assuming that people around me are able and in a position to escape, and presuming this question only implies material things/possessions, I shall save the following.

Camera. The one I first learnt to shoot with.

No books, for I can always get copies. Besides, I have only run of the mill, pulp-fiction-y books at home.

Wallet. Need the money. Need the money.

Definitely the insurance papers. If, that is, there's insurance.

How about practical things? Like a can of water. Or something to douse fire with?


Laptop/PC? Not so much. Most of my work is already online. As are writings. As are photos I don't mind people looking at. SO...

Jessica said...

It's true, moving house can be stressful enough having to pack everything away and then securely and safely wrap items up in bubble wrap and other wrapping to make sure your items don’t break, then having to put your wrapped items into the boxes. A good idea is to make an inventory list when you begin to pack your items in the boxes. And also, what can help is that many removal and man van companies now offer a service which not only means they come and carry your items from your home into the van or lorry and carry them and put them in your new home but they can also wrap and pack all your items safely away for you saving you the hassle and time.