10

DIY Project – Painting a wall

Painting a house is always a huge undertaking in India. First, there is the budget, then choosing the colors and then, the most important, the search for a team of painters who come recommended by at least three different people and who actually have the time to do the work. Finding skilled labour is becoming a difficult job nowadays.

When we decided to paint one wall of our drawing room, finding a painter who would be willing to come for such a small job became a headache. They were charging too much and were wont to cancel at the last minute. So, we decided to take the bull by the horns and paint the wall ourselves.

I am sure my American friends can’t believe we would think so much about such a small job, but we never grew up doing stuff like this you know. So, we don’t have the tools at home for stuff like that. For wood work, we hire a carpenter; for painting a wall, we hire professional painters; for stitching clothes , we visit our friendly neighbourhood tailor and so on. Hell, even for putting a simple nail into the wall, we usually call a carpenter with a drill – unless you have wooden pegs and a hammer at home.

Thankfully, the wall did not need any scrapping or putty work, which would have definitely dampened the spirits at our first attempt at DIY.

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We got all our supplies easily from the guy at the hardware shop, who was very happy to sell us rollers with a smirk on his face – at the over-confidence of the new generation no doubt. The telescopic pole helps you to reach high and the paper tape was to line the corners to protect the wall that we did not want to paint. With these few things it is possible to paint a wall (one that is not damp and requiring scarping and putty and primer work) all on your own.

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After taping the corners and spreading some newspapers on the floor, adding some water to the thick paint I finally began. I chose the Sunny Yellow from Royale Asian Paints. Now I realize that I wanted a bit of orange in it –  a little Mango perhaps, but sunny yellow is nice as well.

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First coat, followed by a second one two hours later and we were done.

  PicMonkey Collage   Not a shabby job, even if I say so myself. The hardest part was taping the molding on the ceiling and not going overboard with the roller in enthusiasm. It can be done and my paintings do pop out more on the wall now.

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The Nook

Next project will be to tackle a wall that needs scraping, putty and primer. Now, that would test my mettle.

8

Adultery – Paulo Coelho

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This book was sent to me by Penguin Random House India in exchange of an honest review

Remember the time when you read Paulo Coelho for the first time and absolutely loved him? The first book I read by him was ‘Veronica Decides to die’ and thought it was brilliant. It had a message that made sense to my sensibilities at that time. I then went on to read everything else by him that I could find. Interestingly, I did not love ‘The Alchemist’ as much as most people did, most of whom were men.

In Adultery, we meet Linda, who is a journalist in her thirties, with a husband and two children, living in Switzerland and rich to boot. Her clothes are designer and she has a picture perfect life. Until, that is, the day she decides she is depressed with the perfection all around her and embarks on the road to adultery to alleviate her boredom. For this purpose, she chooses the convenient ex-boyfriend, Jacob, who is now a prominent politician and has just strolled back into her life.

I did not like the book. To be honest, I haven’t liked his last two offerings either. But by some misplaced sense of loyalty and seduced by the beautiful cover of this one, I still fell into the trap of reading it in the hopes of finding something of the connect that I had felt with his earlier works. Now I wonder, whether his books are the kind that can only be enjoyed when you are in your teens and early twenties. At that time, his stories felt like very sophisticated works of literature and seemed to have deep philosophical meanings. At this stage, his work seems contrived and ‘trying too hard’ to be cool and full of hidden depths. Frankly, the pseudo problems of the super rich fail to evoke any kind of favourable response in my bosom.

I am old-fashioned for sure, but in no way am I a prude – either in real life or in my reading choices. However, reading about Linda giving her ex-boyfriend a blowjob out of the blue at their first meeting in years and immediately following a political interview, during which she was completely bored and is thinking of anything but sex, without any provocation/sweet-talk was jarring and crude. It read like typical male fantasy fluff. Jacob’s wife also makes an appearance early on and very carefully marks her territory by being condescending and hostile to Linda, which only manages to spur her on in the affair. As Linda progresses to obsessing about Jacob, who was just trying to have some fun on the side, and stalking him at home and work to trying to get his wife into jail, the story just gets more and more unpalatable. Her long conversations with herself on the meaning of love appear to be ramblings of a mind looking for excuses instead of any deep insights into the same. She meets a drug dealer and thinks he is ‘someone special’ and ‘experienced and knowledgeable’ and someone who she can talk to. Dear god!

And after all this, does she do something new? Does she leave her husband or even her job to explore a new/ different path? No, she only realizes that after all she loves her rich husband and her perfect children and would like to stay with them.

What was the point of this book, I think and wonder. It was supposed to be a voyage of self-discovery by a woman going through mid-life crises, but was it really? I feel zero empathy for her and her discoveries and feel utterly sorry for her husband who ‘knows’ but will never condemn and is surely a saint.

Unfortunately, this will be the last Paulo Coelho I will ever read. Well, it was fun while it lasted :)

5

Valentine’s Day, 2015 – One of those days

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That was me this Valentine’s Day.It was just one of those days. Today, I look back at it with a shake of my head and an indulgent smile. Well, almost.

Well, it started off with my well-meaning intention to visit a beauty salon. My beauty regime is so sparse that it is practically non-existent by normal womanly standards. I use a moisturizer on my face after a bath and… that’s about it. And I visit a beauty parlour once a year or in case of some big event – so, maybe twice. When I do go, I usually take the O3 facial, which does seem to work miracles on my skin and is usually the most expensive one on the list and makes me wish I was more regular in Salon visits, even if that sentiment doesn’t last long. Sigh! What would Martha Stewart say.

This time, I decided to go to the parlour in the mall near my home. I have been there before and had been very pleased by the work of a sweet Bengali attendant working there.  However, unfortunately for me, she had left  a few months back and I was handed over to another woman who was declared to be ‘very very good’. Let me skip over the hasty cleansing, the scrubbing of my face without adequate water so it seemed like my skin was being scraped off with a sandpaper, or the 20-second inadequate steaming followed by the battle to pull out black heads that had were still snug and tight in their cubby holes, or even the completely new massage moves she tried out on my face and move on to THE FACE MASK.

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O3 facial ideally culminates in a gel face mask that peels off your face in one fluid movement. So, at first she fobs me off with a normal mask and when I ask for the gel one – she immediately says that comes after this mask and scuttles out. Not my first rodeo darling, I think smugly. I hear some whispering out in the corridor and then she brings the real mask along with the manager since she is not sure how to apply it. Anyway, they muddle through it and then leave me alone for the mask to dry. I had not made a single comment upto this point, which was probably my mistake.

Ten minutes later and nobody is back. The mask should be off by now. I decide to wait, trusting the incompetent fools to know better. Fifteen minutes, no sign. Twenty minutes and I am really getting worried – that thing seems to be fusing to my face. There is no bell, so I frantically call the front desk with my mobile and start banging on the door. The attendant finally appears, whispers a bored ‘sorry madam’ and proceeds to try and take my mask off.

Only, the thing is like a block of cement glued to me face. She tries to pry it off my skin and I scream for her to stop. It was like the pain when you hurt yourself, a scab forms and you try to prise it away too early. Only this wasn’t my knee, but my face. The manager comes in too and decides to ‘help’ by trying to pull it off my face by sheer force. I scream some more. I ask them to pour water over my face and let me do it myself. It takes 20 minutes to get it off in little solid chunks with wisps of my long hair still attached where she had touched the hairline. By the time they finished my face was red and rashes were sprouting one side of it.

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I cannot remember correctly when I last lost my temper in a proper way or used the words F*** and B**** in anger. It was in college probably. I hate creating scenes in public and don’t like them in private either. When I get angry, I usually walk away after one line or so and sulk and, very rarely, give in to a bout of tears. But when I do lose it, maybe a total of four times in my life, it is like another human being has overtaken my body. I have actually turned and looked for the ‘screaming’ woman one time a gang of guys were eve-teasing me in the bus, only to realize it was me. It would still have been alright this time around and everyone would have escaped unscathed if the stick-thin, sour-faced manageress hadn’t decided to say,’Nobody else ever has a problem with our mask – I don’t know why you have one madam’.

What did you say?!

What did you say?!

For one second, I was aghast at her brazenness. Five seconds later, I hear a woman’s raised voice and realize it is me. For a second, I think I should stop myself but then THAT woman says sulkily, ‘That’s what a mask is supposed to be like’ and I decide to just Let it go.

I used epithets that I have never used in anger before and shouted the place down. I used the B**** and F*** words one time each, accompanied by lots of idiots and stupids thrown in. I am not proud of that. By now, we are surrounded by about 15 employees of the salon and I can’t believe that the woman refuses to apologize for their mistake.

Then, a rear door opens and a 6ft,5in guy walks out. He asks the woman to step aside and turn to me with a suitably grim expression and wants to know what the matter is. I tell him and THAT woman again starts saying stuff like ‘We didn’t pull her skin off’. By this point I am ready to assault her. Only, the guy turns to her and says solemnly, ‘You cannot talk to a customer like that – customer is Godfather!’

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That was my undoing. I took a deep breath and once again Let it Go, but in the ‘wash my hands off it’ sense. I paid them, because the smug Woman had said to me in a condescending tone that I needn’t pay if I was unhappy and my burning Rajput blood refused to allow her any nonsensical moral high ground.

Wait! It wasn’t over yet!

For the evening, my husband had tickets to an ‘intimate’ dance performance at Ranga Shankara. My face was better after lots of ice and I dressed up for the event. When we sat in the cab, the driver said he wasn’t familiar with the address and would Hubby check it again.

Hubby, who was very smug about planning a Valentine’s Day surprise for me, opens his mobile app and exclaims with horror, ‘What!?!’.

‘What?’ I ask.

‘I have the wrong address,’ he whispers. He thought it was in Malleshwaram, while it was actually in JP Nagar, a time difference of more than half an hour in Bangalore traffic (you have to see it to believe it).

I'm Sorry, WHAT?!?

I’m Sorry, WHAT?!?

Since, Hubby had thought it was closer (20-25 minutes) and because he is a civillian, we had left home at almost 7 for a 7:30 performance. He called up the theater, only to be told they bar the gates after 7:30. Hubby still insisted we should try, although I was ready to turn back already.

Then, the driver decided to throw his two cents in. He said we must cancel the ride and then re-book the cab with a new address or else he will get into trouble. The car is stopped by the kerbside. Hubby tries frantically to re-book the cab, but the driver claims he isn’t receiving any info for the same, even though it is clearly coming up on Hubby’s phone. Ten minutes of this and I am ready to disembark. It seems the driver wanted to take us as a private fare after turning off his app. Alas, he stretched the ‘introduction’ to that act too long.

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We got off.

Hubby suggested going to Toit for a pint, since we were a few steps away from it. But, It was Valentine’s Day! There were no seats to be had for walk-in’s that evening. I just wanted to go home by then. Hubby tried to book cabs and none were available for the next 25 minutes, as we stood outside the pub among revelling, courting couples. I spied a cafe next door and suggested a coffee, since I could see Hubby about to blow his top.

So, to cut a longer story a little short, then we ended the evening by me having a hot chocolate in the cafe sitting across a scowling husband, booking a cab for home after several more tries, going to three ATM’s before finally finding cash, reaching home, trying to order food from Food Panda - who happened to be closed on Valentine’s Day for some reason – almost despairing of the vagaries of fate, but ultimately finding the Fasso’s website and ordering sustenance for our frayed nerves.

All in all a memorable Valentine’s Day!

4

Arabian Nights (Acrylic)

The stories from Arabian nights have always held a fascination for me for the vibrant, dark imagination that each one is made up of. When I came across this illustration in The Art of Dreamworks Animation, I decided to go for it.

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The glaring mistake in the picture is not immediately obvious to Hubby and he is thus pretty happy with this result. One of these days I am determined to present a painting here without a single fault that I can see.

We have recently discovered white frames and so this one was also ceremoniously draped in white. Only thing, our walls are white too and me and Hubby are unable to decide on a colour for the wall that would compliment the white frame properly. He wants either red/rust/brown/green/blue-green. I want mustard yellow, also known as Indian yellow or Mango.

IMG_20150211_065646902 Until such time as it takes for him to understand that I am right, our paintings must suffer a pale backdrop. IMG_20150211_065858The Drawing room now has nine pictures, my husband’s birth date and his favourite number and he is very happy. Our home does seem a bit cluttered to me now, but also somehow incredibly cosy.

10

Musing Mondays (9th February) and the January Random House Book-Bag

Two posts in one just shows how frugal we Indians can be – when it suits us.

So, this Musing Monday is about the books I received from Random House India this weekend. The security guy in my building was so chuffed to be finally able to present me with my parcel on Saturday evening before I asked him one more time whether ‘My Parcel had arrived?’.

The twitching eyelid has put a serious damper on my reading for the past 15 days. I am better now, but am determined to take it a bit slow for the next few days. Hubby keeps challenging me to try and stop reading, or listening, to books for a month! Hah!

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So the books I received are :

1) A Mirrored Life by Rabisankar Bal – Because I loved the cover and the name Ibn Batuta intrigued me.

2) Seahorse by Janice Pariat – Because I absolutely loved her short story collection last year and am crossing my fingers about this one.

As for the question that Miz B asks on her post today, I have to say its a bit of both! My husband and I met and got married because of a book (Gone with the Wind, but that’s a story for another day) and even though our reading choices seldom intersect, he does understand my love for books over jewellery and clothes. Also, one of my dearest and closest friends, with whom I initially became friends because someone told me she had a huge collection of books, reads a lot and thus is another confidante. But we now meet only in the summers when I go home and I miss her terribly. So, for the rest of the time, the internet provides me with the eclectic mix of bibliophiles just as crazy about books as me. I come to know about new authors from all of my internet buddies and have managed to increase my TBR list to gargantuan proportions.

8

The Twitching Eyelid and Rescue by BBC audiobooks

bleph·a·ro·spasm
ˈblefərəˌspazəm/
noun
  1. involuntary tight closure of the eyelids.

Okay, mine was not that violent, just the slight twitching of the upper eyelid, a bit like half of a quarter wink but it was bloody awful all the same.

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Does Master Shifu look Happy?

My right eyelid started twitching on the 26th of January. At first it was funny, with lot of wisecracks about receiving an unexpected windfall and so on based on long established superstitions in my wonderful country. When it didn’t abate, it started getting annoying. I tried yoga for eyes, cold compresses, hot compresses, splashing water, eye exercises. Nothing helped. I went on the internet and started searching for anything that might give me information about this condition. What I found was as frustrating as it was hopeless. So, it turns out a twitching eyelid is like the common cold of eye diseases. Maybe even worse than the common cold since along with no cure for it, nobody even knows what causes it!

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Does He look happy?

By the eight day I was ready to punch my eye out and even go around wearing a eye patch for the rest of my life to keep it closed forever. The advice of ‘ignore it’ was not very helpful, especially when I visited forums on the internet where people were suffering from a runaway eyelid for more than a year! Then, I decided to rest my eyes. No computer, no reading, no painting and no television. The first two and last were not so bad, but not reading was torture.

As I sat twiddling my thumbs on the drawing room sofa looking suitably glum, Hubby was concerned. He said it was weird to see me without a book in my hand. That he couldn’t take it. Considering that he had suggested ‘resting’ my eyes, his saying such things every five minutes was not helping my morale at all.

Then, he presented me with these wonderful BBC audio books, as luck would have it, by the very author, Ann Granger, I was reading before the ‘episode’.

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Oh Bliss! For one thing, everything that the BBC churns out has always been of such high quality, both content and production wise, that even the staunchest anti-Anglo freedom fighters were known to trust the BBC implicitly and so did their later generations. And things have only gotten better at the BBC headquarters in the decades since our struggle for freedom. For some reason, I always imagine the BBC offices to be a world stuck in Dickensian England with everyone going around in top hats and long skirts. That would involve a bit of magic as well I suppose, with secret doorways concealed behind brick walls. Well, I must be getting better with my neurons firing in their usual fashion, since I have managed to club the BBC with Harry Potter.

Anyone who scorns at ‘listening’ to books like a little child hasn’t come across the wonderful narrators from BBC. It really feels like they are sitting by your bedside in a rocking chair, with a spectacle on their noses, turning pages slowly and reading in a soothing voice. Kim Hicks, (read a review of her narrative from someone other than me here) the narrator of the first two Ann Granger books I read, is my new favourite celebrity. She can change her voice to suit any character that crops up – from a whiny rich girl to a burly bouncer to an old, drunk beggar. She reads a bit fast, but once you get used to it, it is a pure pleasure.

And, more importantly for those around you, while you listen you can sort out the cupboard, cook your dinner and iron your clothes so nobody can ever accuse you of wiling away the time over ‘stories’ ever again. I wonder how many people use audio books out of choice instead of necessity. They really should.

Two days of listening to audio books and my eye is much better. I did visit an ophthalmologist and will not recount the exasperated looks I received when I told them I was there for a flickering eyelid when my vision turned out to be a perfect 20-20. They explained in painful detail that there was nothing they could do about it, and that I should ‘ignore’ it and go about my work as usual.

Everything is a learning experience in life and this one made me discover, or rather rediscover, the pleasure of listening to a story narrated by an expert storyteller and I will now continue to do so, especially at bedtime. As for the eye, only time will tell whether it will be a recurring phenomena or a one-off thing.

11

Jeeves and the Yule-tide Spirit and other stories – P.G. Wodehouse

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This book was sent to me by Penguin Random House India in exchange of an honest review

The moment I set eyes on this book, the first thought to cross my mind was ‘Collector’s item’. This beautiful hardcover offering from Random House would make a perfect gift, especially as a Christmas present, what with snowflakes on the cover design and the more obvious reference to very mysterious sounding Yuletide (which is just a fancy name for Christmas but always reminds me of the delicious baked yuletide log and a cozy fire).

This here is a collection of short stories, garnered from the various collections of Wodehouse, hence making it a perfect introduction to P.G.Wodehouse to the uninitiated. There are twelve stories, one for each month of the year, and one for good luck I suppose, bringing the total to the well-loved number in our household – thirteen.

1) Jeeves and the Yule-tide spirit (from ‘Very good Jeeves) – Jeeves and Wooster are about to depart on a trip to the gaming tables of Monte Carlo just after Christmas, when their plans are disrupted by an invitation from Lady Wickam. While Wooster seems pretty happy with the change of plans, the same cannot be said of Jeeves. Watching Jeeves get his way once again is as always priceless as are Wooster’s antics and misfortunes.

2) One touch of nature (from ‘The Man with Two Left Feet’) – This was a story I hadn’t come across previously in my forays into the Wodehouse archives. Its the story of Mr. J. Wilmont Birdsey, a doting American father who had to shift continents when his daughter married an Englishman, and his love of Baseball. After 5 years, he gets an opportunity to see his beloved game played on English soil and there meets two strangers who seem just as enamored as him with the sport. What follows when he invites them for dinner is hilarious.

3) The Ordeal of young Tuppy (from ‘Very Good Jeeves’) – Tuppy Glossop makes his second appearance since the book began and this time he has a much meatier role. Considering Wooster, it comes as a pleasant surprise to both the reader and Wooster himself that his friends are not just indolent, floppy Englishmen, but have some fire in their veins. If I had been present at that rugby match, I am sure I would have fallen in love with Tuppy Glossop on the spot!

4) Ukridge’s dog College (from ‘Ukridge’) – I never liked the Ukridge stories. He seems to be not cute and a pretty encroaching sort of person, apart from being a leech and somewhat of a crook. And yet, he has friends aplenty. It is a boy thing, I think, to give leeway to rogues just because you have known them since you were kids and sort of live vicariously through their adventures. Hubby does it all the time. This time he has hit upon the scheme of training Pekingese dogs for the stage. Needless to say, things do not progress as imagined.

5) The story of William (from ‘Meet Mr Mulliner’) – Mr Mulliner is a storyteller with an anecdote for every occasion. How much of his story is true is usually open to interpretation. Here, Mr Mulliner recounts the story of an uncle who visited California in 1906 to an American he encounters in his pub.

6) Uncle Fred Flits By (from ‘Young Men in Spats’) – Uncle Fred is the bane of Pongo Twistelton’s life. Here he is once again making an ill-advised visit to London and had roped in Pongo to make the rounds with him. Pongo is well aware where such shenanigans will lead and is suitably depressed. When Uncle Fred suggests visiting the suburbs, Pongo breathes a sigh of relief, for who can get into trouble in the suburbs! Alas, he has failed to heed the voice of experience as Uncle Fred manages to do just that.

7) How’s that, Umpire? (from Nothing Serious) – A story about cricket lovers and those not particularly enamoured by it. Conky Biddle hates cricket but must attend every match in Lords to please his uncle who loves cricket and controls his purse strings as well. When he meets a girl who despises cricket as much as her, he is ecstatic, only to learn his uncle despises the girl from the bottom of his heart. Conundrum!

The rest of the stories are bound to be just as funny and hilarious as all of the above and following my one story at bedtime routine, I will post them up as I get along.