01 October 2005

Retrospective Series: Part 4 - Assistant In Chief

This is turning out to be a nice sunny weekend. Something of a rarity as Halloween approaches. Sometimes after an intense week of work(Steam blowing from the ears and heated brain storming sessions, kind of work); I believe a weekend with a large dose of mundane, physical work is called for. I cannot possibly give a medical explanation for how the brain recuperates during that rest, but I can guess with reasonable accuracy. The brain cells say, "yo buddy, you go take a hike. I ain't budging for the next two days !". Monday's are a pleasure after such weekends.

So here I am having just finished cleaning my deck with a powerful cleaner, then washing it up to get rid of the soapy residue. I am now waiting (and blogging) for the sun to dry it up. Then a nice coat of sealant will protect the wood for the winter and maybe for the next couple of years.

As I was doing this, I could not but think of my childhood. I was my dad's assistant-in-chief. A designation that I created for myself, knowing that I was his errand boy when he started on a home improvement project. Being an only child, its not as if there were other assistants for me to be chosen chief of staff. So whether it was painting the bathroom in our backyard, building the garden benches, laying cobble stones underneath the clothes line, I was always lugging around my dad's home improvement tools. He has a natural engineer's perspective for these things, so he can conjecture up a project and finish it to perfection with enough analysis being done in his head than on paper.

One interesting fact (and my wife agrees with me on this...you see, she was the reluctant assistant to her dad too, and usually ran away appointing her kid sister in her place ) about being an assistant to a master craftsman is that you always see the ease with which he does things and wonder; "Wow, that was so cool...can I try that dad ?". "No, of course not, you will mess it up!" would come the reply. I would sulk for a minute and then at the first instant that he was looking away, would try the same trick on a block of wood or tile or whatever the material he was working on. I don't need to tell you how it usually turned out, do I ? Someone is a master craftsman for a reason, and someone else is an assistant for exactly the same reason. Little do the tiny brains realize this universal truth.

Anyway, I would always want to perform the important tasks. Why should I be the one to lug the tools around? Why should I clean up the mess afterwards ? Why can't you ask me for all the tools at the same time ? My dad always asked me for stuff one at a time. "Can I get the hammer ? Oh the big screw driver ? Not this one, the one with the star head."

Now that I am doing it, I know how important it is to pay attention to detail, the process, and the need to have a handyness to perform these tasks. But thanks to genes, I am not so bad myself. My dad chuckles when I tell him this over the phone. I am sure, in the true indian gurukula tradition, he still has a trick or two up his sleeve that he hasn't taught me yet.

Things are no different when one grows up too, isn't it ? We see a master craftsman working at his trade, no matter what it is and we wonder; "Wow, that seems so cool. Can I try that ?" We never change, do we ? At least I haven't.

No comments: