D-I-Y- A four letter word

So what’s this DIY again? Seems as mythical to me as the Unicorn, Santa Claus or tax cuts. Did you grow up in India? Well, if you didn’t you probably have no clue what I am talking about do you?

I actually grew up in a quaint little town called Bhopal; Bhopal known world over for all the wrong reasons- The 1984 Union Carbide gas leak accident that left thousands dead. It used to be an erstwhile Kingdom and it was actually one of the most fun places to be in. I lived in a huge converted palace with god knows how many relatives. So big that it gave me plenty of secret alleys to hide in and it took me 6 months to realize who my brother was. That’s the thing about joint families, no one bothers and you basically get away with anything.

And then of course , being India, everything was done by someone else. D-I-Y? Well the only DIY we did was to pick up the phone ourselves and ask for someone to come over to fix a broken piece of furniture or wash the vehicles. And before anyone gets any ideas, we eventually moved out of that gigantic joint family and spent the rest of my formative years in a 200 sq feet tenement. So of course the only vehicles we saw were the ones driven by others and owned by the others. And how about laying floors, fixing a broken fence or assemble a bed? Now that is really pushing it because as simple as it sounds to you, its still rocket science to me. It just simply does not happen in India. We never got to do do anything ourselves. Someone else was always called upon!

So imagine the shock of it all when I started living in America. So the guy at IKEA hands me a compact box and says that’s my bed. If jumping out of one’s skin is possible, it actually happened to me then. So I am supposed to put this together? I am supposed to look at that sketch of that Apollo 13 and use the screws, nuts and bolts and assemble a bed? Sure enough being hard up for money, I attempted it. And of course after a sweaty, on-the-knees session on the bedroom floor, I thought it was mission accomplished. Then my eyes go and I see 21 screws quietly ensconced in a corner. May be the Swedes were generous and gave me that extra helping of screws? You can run your mind on what the bed looked like? Well it wasn’t exactly a square. If I call it pathetic it would be highly unfair since that is a superlative for the piece of wood that stood on three and half legs!Bad Assembly

And then there was this instance when I had to fix a couple of floor boards which of course involved some rather mule like adamant adhesive. After having smartly spread that adhesive on the floor board, somehow in a fit of extreme enthusiasm I ended up kneeling down promptly on the part where the adhesive was generously spread.So here I am in this position, stuck to the floor and by myself in my kitchen. I managed to slither and reach for my phone while still having my knees stuck to the floor. Voice recognition or Siri doesn’t recognize an Indian accent if you knew that. So 911 and here comes the guy a few minutes later and guess what he does? He laughs until he cries! He couldn’t stop and for him it was the most ludicrous thing he’s ever seen. And being at the receiving end, it was very unfunny to me. I am sure he must have thought- What’s Apu doing on the floor? Isn’t he supposed to be running the cash register at  7-11?

Since then I have vowed not to get too adventurous with DIY.  I will skip a meal a day, I will walk to work, I’ll try to live off one kidney so I can afford to pay those handymen that have absolutely no compunctions about charging me $50 for a 15 minutes check in. Of course if not for me, their families will die of starvation and I’d be accused of stealing those American jobs!

So much for D-I-Y! It is truly a four letter word!

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Author: Ashok Iyengar

A published author and a Project Management professional I love to travel, mentor and network. Writing my travelogues, commentaries on political and social issues I create meaningful conglomerations between the west and east. I live in the Washington DC metro area. Just started a new journey with assisting teaching Project Management classes at GWU, Washington DC

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