I think I have figured out what drove Christopher Columbus, or for that matter most other daring explorers, to take off to distant lands unmindful of the extreme dangers involved in their exercise: They must have just ordered refurbishing of their homes. For, home-repair is an exercise guaranteed to push even reasonable men to run off from their family to far-flung places, sometimes in the fond hope of never returning.
This week, I was in such a state.
But it all started in the aftermath of the rains, when the walls had become all damp, the paint had begun to peel off and there was a constant musty feel, almost making us feel that we were living inside a government office except the fact we had a functioning toilet and we didn’t like to sleep in our chairs, I, like a fool, asked my wife whether we must have some workers attend to the walls.
Till that moment, my policy towards home-repair situation was mostly based on successive Indian governments’ approach to terrorism in Punjab. Remember how the Punjab problem of the 80s was solved? Terrorists were demanding a separate Khalistan, and to drive home their idea they were killing people by the dozens almost on an hourly basis. But the government of the day was equal to the occasion as it went about its essential business of doing not much of anything. Eventually it came to a situation where the impassioned Punjabis simply got bored with the killings that they forsook arms and went into the even more dangerous line of rap singing. There is also another way to tackle problems: Take a problem, make it more complicated, make it more messy, make it a totally different, humungous problem that the original problem becomes insignificant and hence deemed solved. HR departments specialize in this approach.
Sorry for the digression, the thing is that we should have just ignored the wall situation at my house, and I am sure at some point the paint would have stopped coming off. But we chose to call a painter to have a look at it. He came, saw and like all painters said that we needed to rope in a mason. And so we got him on board, and he arrived and told us — again like all masons — that we have to bring in a carpenter. The carpenter guy, needless to say, wanted an electrician along, who luckily happened to be a plumber too, so he didn’t suggest any more inclusions. But if he had said that we have to rush in, I don’t know, an origamist, we would have doubtless gone for him also without asking ‘why’. Because when pushed into home-repair situations, we home-owners just lose our thinking faculty.
Anyway, after chalking out a well-thought-out plan, the four well-trained professionals got down to work in all earnestness, thanks to which, I am happy to report here, my house from being a creaking, frayed-at-the-seams structure quickly transformed into a completely unlivable quarters filled with debris and dust. Especially dust, it was so much and so dense that at one particular high-point we more or less ran the risk of Delhi’s Odd-Even formula auto-kicking itself into effect inside our house.
When I told the workers that I have never encountered so much dust and dirt, one of them calmly moved aside one of the sofas and pointed down, where there was dirt, which with proper filters could have been passed off on Instagram as a dark hillock worthy of several ‘likes’, piled up in casual profusion. ‘It is amidst this you were living all along,’ he said wryly. We clean the rooms every morning, I protested. ‘Dust accumulates every second,’ he dead-panned.
Don’t laugh. I am sure your house is equally dirty. It is better we all accept the simple reality that the world we live in is teeming with pollutants, bulk of which are stationed, probably in the form of AAP workers, over Delhi, while the rest of the dust are collectively holed up behind the sofas, chairs and bureaus in our homes.
And so it has been going for the last one week, the house is a total mess with workers all over the place, our furniture covered with a liftetime of dust and filth. I surely wanted to escape to some distant continent, but after all the repairs, the money with me would have barely taken to me to the airport, or in this time of surge-prices, just to the foot of the Kathipara flyover.
Amidst all this brouhaha, two truths on home-care struck me: If you don’t regularly attend to problems, your house will become a run-down structure sooner or later. If you regularly attend to problems, your house will still become a run-down structure sooner or later.
This writing on the wall is always clear. Just that we don’t read it probably because the paint had come off it.