Two days from now, we are throwing our reasonably organised lives into a gargantuan mess by moving to a partially complete and scarcely livable house.
At this point, let me do it the "filmy" way by going for a flashback to update you on the recent events of my otherwise uninteresting life. This is probably unnecessary for the selected few who follow my life-cycle with considerable interest but since the head-count of these "selected few" is in single digit, it makes more sense to give a general update.
Three months back, on a cold winter morning, while sipping super-heated masala tea, we suddenly came to the conclusion that we should buy a flat in Gurgaon. I don't recollect the exact rationale, if any, behind this decision but I do remember that it was taken in our usual Quick-Gun-Murugan style - decided before you could say Jack Robinson!! Subsequently, this proved to be a wise decision, as our landlord is coming back to Gurgaon and we anyway would have been forced to move to another flat.
The next steps were, of course, somewhat more long drawn as it involved finding a suitable flat in Gurgaon, selling our Navi Mumbai flat, applying for loan, applying for NOC from the society and various other mundane stuffs. Arranging the finance was not easy and neither was completing these formalities which usually involves filling long complicated forms where they ask intimate questions like my grandmother's maiden name, colour of my first pet and the measurement of my left thigh.
We finished these formalities with about 10 days to spare i.e ten days before our landlord is going to arrive and take possession of his lawful abode. The next step is, of course, shifting to our new house.
This house that we have bought is not a locked up "Khandahar" of some well meaning gentleman. It is a well lived in flat and people were actually staying there till last month. Theoretically, it is possible to move into this flat without any renovation. We, in the eternal folly that has hounded mankind ever since they started building houses, chose to do "a few things" before we move in. And this single step was the beginning of a nerve-wrecking Odyssey that is likely to hound us for another month or so.
"A few things", we soon came to realize, is a large basket of ideas and can put even the Buckingham palace to shame. After many hours of contemplation, most of it consisting of looking at our bank balances and feeling miserable about it, we decided that we will get the flat painted, put new tiles on the floors and the sanitary fittings replaced. Simple and basic, isn’t it ? Not quite.
To replace the sanitary fittings, we had to break a few tiles of the bathroom. And by a deep rooted conspiracy of the tile manufacturers, any design of tile is available at best for 2 years. This automatically means, we have to replace the entire set of bathroom tiles. From there, the next logical step is also to replace the embedded pipes of the bathroom and then, of course, the electrical fittings also need to be changed and...you get the drift.
Long and short of it is that we now have the following set of people working simultaneously in our house :
- a plumber
- a masonry fellow (who also does the tile job)
- an electrician
- a carpenter
- a painter
- a welder
What made matters worse is the fact that all these aforementioned gentlemen have some peculiar characteristics which, under the present time-critical situation, is quite a hindrance in completing the project on time. A quick summary of these characteristics are as below :
a) Mr. Rajkumar, the painter is a loner who cannot work when other people are in the same room as he is. He also has difficulty in communicating what he wants and expects that you will, somehow, read into his sub-conscious psychological abyss and extract the relevant information. He also refuses to give his own opinion and prefers to take the stand "Jaise aap kahiyega (As you wish, sir"). This, occasionally, can push you to a stage when you would wish that you had a loaded Kalashnikov or Uzi sub-machine gun handy.
b) Mr. Nandan, the masonry worker feels that his work is not being appreciated and he is not getting the due respect for his job. For example, he resented bitterly when one of his precious tiles showed a slight scratch (less than 6 inch long). He complained in the most vociferous manner that this has happened due to the dastardly behavior of the carpenter, who, apparently is the miscreant. Other workers like the electrician et al tried to pacify him by stating that this sore spot will disappear if rubbed vigorously was met with contempt and disdain and fortified his belief that nobody appreciates his job. Left to himself, he would have broken up every tile of the floor and relaid them but alas, in these troubled times, nobody appreciates a true artist.
c) Mr. Prakash, the plumber, believes that it is his duty to forgive the follies of his fellow human beings in the true Christian spirit of "they know not what they do". This sentiment, unfortunately extends towards his employers as well and it is almost impossible to instruct him about how a job should be done. Forceful statements and high decibels does not work with him and the only way is to tentatively give a suggestion and then tip-toe around it in a delicate manner to craftily guide it towards the desired result. This is a time consuming process and also tests your diplomatic skills to their limits.
d) Mr. Baidyanath, the electrician, does not believe in schedules, dates and deadlines. Time, in his opinion, is just an instantaneous point in the infinite space-time continuum of the universe and it is therefore stupid to argue about why something, which was to be done yesterday, is still pending. He dons has a beatific smile when he fails to meet a commitment (a situation which occurs with an alarming regularity) and remains unperturbed by any verbal missile that you might throw at him.
So the D-day is alarmingly near and the progress is not what it should have been. For the past week, every dawn had been bringing in new hope for me and the dusk had been bringing back the broken fragments of this hope. I suspect that our entry into the house will be almost an archeological expedition where we have to wade our way through broken pieces of tiles, marbles and conduits, empty and partially full paint cans and a team of workmen recruited from the mad hatter’s tea party who have no intention of leaving us ever.
How I wish that I had the powers to say “Off with their heads” like the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland!!