Ever since we have moved into our home in August 2008, we’ve always wanted to change the carpeting in the downstairs (guest) bathroom. I mean, seriously, who has carpet in their bathroom? I know, we did! Till 2 weeks ago. As you can see, it took us only close to 3 years to rectify this anomaly. We take full responsibility, but some blame has to be shouldered by Mr. and Mrs. Moritz, first owners and previous occupants.
I’m far from what you’d call a ‘handy man’. By that I mean, I will not generally take on DIY (do it yourself) projects. This is not because I’m lazy, uppity or have loads of money. I will work pretty well under instruction and guidance. It’s because I have had little exposure to DIY projects and the tools and accessories required for such projects, for most of my teenage and early adult years – the time that you learn about stuff like this. In India, you ask your ‘darwan’ (building watchman) to go and bring the ‘para-r’ (neighbourhood) plumber or carpenter or smith-mason or painter, as and when you need their services. The labour charges in India are much lower than even minimum wages in the US, and you are guaranteed a professional job, without burning a hole in your pocket or getting dirty. People do not make trips to the ‘hardware’ store to look at power tools. To put things into perspective, the largest hardware store I’ve ever visited in India has got to be smaller than one-hundredth (right, that is 1 in 100) the size of a regular Lowe’s or Home Depot. I’m not kidding. And you do not wander into a hardware store in India; you come up to the store counter and ask someone to bring you what you need. That someone, usually in a ‘sando genji’ (sleeveless t-shirts) and ‘lungi’ (piece of cloth worn around the waist – like a Scottish kilt) and hands full of (seemingly) black tar, saunters into the depth of this store and brings forth what you need. You pay and leave and do not stay a moment longer than necessary.
When I visited the airport hanger-sized hardware stores in the US for the first time, I’ve felt that I’ve missed out on something. (Not that I really endorse the largesse of these behemoths and their opulent consumerism beckoning everyone to get the even bigger lawn mower or the more powerful chain saw, but that’s a thought for another day). From my uncle who’s been here for over 30 years and my father-in-law and brother-in-law (Vivian’s sister’s husband) M, I have been learning and learning and learning. I like it. Started accumulating tools – mostly presents on birthdays and Christmas – and thinking about a tool rack in the garage. I’m at a stage now that I probably know enough to start something and categorically don’t know to enough to see it to closure. So a project involving tearing up the carpet from the bathroom and laying it with vinyl-flooring, was beyond me.
It was either getting a contractor to get this done or have M do it, with me helping him. I have to learn and so we always wanted to go with the second option but with them living in South Dakota, the timing had to be worked out. Eventually, two weeks ago, it did. Now M is someone who has completed his own basement, and is obviously very adroit at fixing things up. Not only has he the knack, he also has had the professional experience to fearlessly undertake such projects.
So we went to Menards (once) and Home Depot (4 times) in the course of a Saturday, to purchase the materials we needed and got the job done. In the process I gained a few new toys, namely a hammer drill, a cement drill bit, a utility knife, a putty knife, a caulk gun, an 18 ounce hammer and some Tapcon screws.
Thanks a lot, M!