Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Oh, for a handyman

Handymen should be handy. That, in my opinion should be their biggest qualification. Whether or not they are good at their job is debatable. I mean how much can go wrong with fixing a nail or mending a fuse?
Sadly, my good karma days seem to be over with Lord Vamne. He is the complete antithesis of the handyman. First of all, he is more elusive than Gautam Singhania, who one can only interview mid-air on a chopper, even though he is partying every night.

Lord Vamne loves the chase. He doesn’t take my calls, but once in a while, he does send an sms in chaste English, which sounds like a mechanized voice mail. You know, the kind that says, “I am sorry, I am unable to take your call, but I will call you back shortly.
Now, I am a guy’s girl. In the sense that I am incredibly good at getting things done, and although I would love to sound like a helpless damsel in distress who says, “Honey, how are we doing to do this? Can you do something? I really need that nail on the wall…?" I have tried that voice and it doesn’t look good on me.
So I do the stuff that I am good at. Track down local contacts. Talk to random people on the road. Suss out the watchman to see how enterprising he can get for a few extra bucks. The weirdest thing is, all roads led to Vamne, as if it were a conspiracy. So instead of ousting him, which was my original plan, I had to be “nice to him” as advised by one and all.

On an auspicious day, after many prayers and breaking coconuts, Lord Vamne finally descended, with his coterie of two assistants. Now, in my book, this is so not cool. The point of being a handyman is “do it yourself”, not strut around, ordering your assistants to do the job. The result? I have two crooked frames, one spice-rack that is reminiscent of the Leaning tower of Pisa, and a gas regulator that has been fiddled with and rejected.

How could this happen to me, the queen of handymen?
Flashback to Mukeshbhai, the local electrician cum plumber cum mason cum packer cum loader cum blackmarketeer at the local single screen theatre. He called me saab, and I got a kick out of that. Then there was Lakkibhai, who was a tad too dandy to be handyman, but all it took was one sniff at the object of repair, and he would say “Ho jayega. Koi vanda nahi…”. Or even Singh chacha who organized everything from cook cum maid to raddiwala to cornershop telephone number to takeway menus to carpenter.

My mother has an electrical shop aptly called Moonlight who does bodyshopping as a side business. Depending on the nature of the assignment—from fixing a lamp to the sink in the bathroom, to the curtain rod, he would send different men, all of whom were called Shabbir. My mother went terribly batty figuring which Shabbir she had spoken to the last time, and it caused much stress.

So I went to a technical institute for boys run by a convent, asking if they had crash courses in “everything that can go wrong with a house and how to fix it”. I wanted to learn how to fix a car, the tap, the fuse and just about anything that needs fixing. The Brother in charge stared at me as if I were a lunatic. I tried explaining to him that “self help was the best help,” etc, hoping to strike a chord in churchspeak, but he was further amused, and laughed me off as a girl who knew too much.
So handymen it will be…

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