Thanks to the almost non-stop rains over the week across Chennai, schools have declared holiday and offices and establishments have extended their staff, even if they happened to be pizza delivery guys, work-from-home option. And with electricity, DTH and internet too down in many places, several households are staring at a strange, rarely-experienced predicament: Of having to interact with other members in the family. This went out of fashion in the 80s when television arrived into the nation’s drawing rooms. After that computers made inroads. And now mobiles have totally taken over. These days, a family is a set of people, brought together by extraneous circumstances like marriage and its eventualities, who share a TV set and internet wifi connection and order dinner form the same takeaway. Okay, I am oversimplifying things. Family is still sacrosanct and forms the bedrock of Indian culture and tradition for getting a ration card.
Jokes aside, with the showers unrelenting and many of you confined to your house, what are the fun ways by which you can keep yourself and your family members occupied? Remember the rainy days of your childhood, when you and your father tore pages out of your notebook and made quaint little boats that you set sail on the muddy waters and saw them, with wide-eyed joy, float beguilingly? It used to be wonderful fun for about five to seven seconds, after which the boat got thoroughly drenched and sunk unceremoniously. Let us face it, those boats were not built for real water. They were made for playing in imaginary water. But still, paper boats still evoke warm, poetic nostalgia in many of us and we long for them.
And this is how you can rekindle that childhood spirit with a tinge of surprise: Walk in surreptitiously into your son or daughter’s room. Retreat if your daughter or son is inside the room. Moron, we said this was going to be a surprise fun. Slip into the room when no one else is inside. Don’t shatter the ecosystem of pants and shirts scattered all across the bed and floor. Particularly ignore that jeans — it was last washed when Manmohan Singh was the nation’s Prime Minister. Head to the shelf. Pick a notebook from there. Save for the first few pages (filled with some random classroom notes) and the last few pages (filled with furious doodles and enigmatic scribbles made during the same class), the notebook will be mostly blank. Tear a few pages and place the note back in the shelf along with the same dust initially gathered around it.
Slowly slither out of the room. Now get back to your room. Take out the note pages and get down to work to make those cute little boats. Pick a single sheet of paper. Hold it by its ends. Suddenly realise you have absolutely forgotten how to make a paper boat. Never mind. There is internet, your knowledge bank for all kinds of situations. Don’t be a dork, if you had internet in the first place you would not be making the darned boat but instead would be sending memes to WhatsApp group members who will thoughtfully respond with the loving words: “Don’t repeat old forwards”.
Well, here is a quick tutorial on making a paper boat: Spread the sheet of paper in front of you. It will fly off in the gust of breeze from the fan. Switch off the fan. This should have been step one. Now gently iron out the wrinkles on the paper. Carefully fold paper into half and crease the fold for firmness. Oops, you overdid it and tore the paper. Take another paper and repeat the previous step. Unfold the paper, rotate it 90 degrees, and fold it in half from bottom to top along its long side. Okay that sounded difficult. Simply fold the four edges of the paper towards the centre and then fold the whole thing at the middle leaving a small gap at the bottom. Pull out two cross folds leaving two other cross folds to stand strongly in the middle. Still sounds confusing? Dei, do some random folding and pulling, by trial and error you will eventually get a semblance of boat. It is not as if you are building INS Vikrant that it has to be set to precise shape and size.
Now comes the real enjoyment. Call out your kids. Tell them you have a great surprise for them. Wait for that precious response to streak out on their young faces. It will be one of unconcealed annoyance. Understand they are already tetchy without the TV or ipad and are in no mood for your juvenile show. But don’t let that bother you. Now — remember to make suitable dramatic sound of trumpet using your mouth —- unveil the paper boat and tell them that you all can go out and play in the rain like in the pristine days of past. “Hai, paper boat” one of your children will exclaim excitedly and then quickly say, ‘dad, we are living on the seventh floor and the entire apartment complex has only concrete floors. Are we going to set this sail on Cooum?” and walk out from the room without even waiting for your answer.
We think, on a rainy day, you should just stick to rum. It’s always fun.