The art of D-I-Y


I suck at DIY. Perhaps, even on a multitude of levels.  

Which is oddly ironic, considering that I grew up in a household that had a steady (and constant) source of DIY projects. My father is a very hands-on person and where and if possible, he would get the work done himself. Be it just fixing a lampshade or assembling a cupboard. So, you’d think that someone who grew up watching his father constantly involving himself in Do-it-yourself projects, would have an eye for that. At least, a bare minimum amount. Well, you would be wrong. Because I surely don’t.


When I was a child, we would often frequent the IKEA store. Now, I call this a store. But the reality is that (and anyone who has been to any IKEA store can vouch for this), it is a little village in its own right. A little Swedish village with amazing interiors, that even kids will find appealing. There was also another reason why I did not mind a trip to IKEA. It was because I had an inexplicable fetish towards IKEA catalogues.


I’m still not certain why, but a quick survey of my home library, in all likelihood will reveal a collection of IKEA catalogues from the year 1994 onwards. I’m not sure what intrigued me so much about them that I felt the irresistible urge to collect them, but I loved flipping through the pages and looking at home furnishings and how they would magically transform what was previously a 6 x 6 room into a place that I’d gladly eat/sleep and drink in. But not once, have I been excited by the prospects of having to 'do-it-yourself'.


My first complete tryst with DIY commenced, perhaps, when we moved to London. It was about the time we'd just started earning. DIY furniture seemed to be the obvious choice. It was inexpensive, easy to transport and had a bunch of instructions that any idiot could follow. But if the slanting bookshelf, rickety TV stand or the masking-taped cupboard doors are to go by, not this particular idiot. Needless to say, my wife took over pretty quick. And it was fortunate that she had a knack for these things.


But they say nothing gets bruised easier than a male ego. So, despite my cheerful exterior, deep down, I was always looking for an opportunity to redeem myself. And that opportunity was presented on a silver platter immediately after the birth of our child. We’d ordered a particular model of cradle for the little one, who was an infant at that point. Since it was out of stock, they’d said they could get it delivered. But before I could ask the salesman about the installation and assembly, my ever-happy-to-DIY wife tugged on my sleeves and gave me a look, which can only be described as, “Main hoon na!” (which roughly translates as : Don’t worry. I’m here)


Now, for those of you are very familiar with my ongoing love-affair with Murphy and his famed laws, it so happened that the 'supposedly flat-packed' cradle was delivered while my wife and son were out of the country. It was delivered on the day that they were scheduled to return from India. And me being the darling that I am (stop snickering!), decided that I would assemble the cradle and surprise them (and perhaps, myself too). Yes, I know what you’re thinking. The results of my DIY attempts are rather shocking.


To cite some examples

The hammer loves my thumb. They always like to kiss and make out when I’m trying to hammer in a few nails.  Glue, especially industrial strength ones, have an inexplicable affinity towards my hair.  I suck at following instructions and directions. But that might be a ‘male’ thing.  

But I knew one thing. I would rue the day that I let a few pieces of wood, screws and some glue get the better of me. Yes, the DIY gene was starting to assert itself.


So, when the delivery personnel rang the door bell, I was ready and raring to go. Rocking my workman overalls, and armed with all the tools that I required, I opened the door. However, I was mildly surprised when instead of a small, flat packed box, the delivery man dumped a large crate right in the middle of the living room. I even eyed it cautiously from top to bottom, half expecting one of the animals from the Madagascar movie to jump out and shake a leg or move a bum to ‘I like to move it, move it.'


Of course, nothing happened and soon, it was just me left alone with the crate, wondering what on earth I had signed up for.

[bctt tweet="But determination is a wonderful thing. It can make you drive miles just to prove a point."]

Or in my case, follow instructions to the T and assemble something wonderful. And as I discovered, it really gives you a sense of achievement.



Later that evening,

As my wife entered the bedroom, I stood there happy and proud. She looked at me with an amused look on her face and asked, “How much did you pay the handyman to assemble it?”


In retrospect, I should have put on an insulted expression. Instead, I laughed loudly.  “I did it myself!” I announced, giving the cradle a slight push. With a creak, the cot rocked gently from side to side, as it was designed to.


“I must say, Sid. I’m impressed! Never thought I'd see the day!” she exclaimed, walking around to look at the assembled piece.


“Go on. Check it out. I’m sure you suspect that I may not have done a good job of it. I’ll go get R from his stroller”. I said, with a sly smile. Yes, I was feeling rather cocky.


As I picked up my sleeping infant son from the stroller, there was a loud crash from the bedroom. With him in my arms, I rushed over and saw my wife standing over the collapsed cradle, with a stern look on her face. I gulped loudly, but couldn’t help wondering what had gone wrong. As I walked over to my wife, I heard something jingle.

“What’s that sound?” asked my wife, taking my son from me. I shrugged my shoulders for I had no clue.

“Can you hop lightly?” she asked, obviously more concerned about the jingling sound than the collapsed cradle that should have contained our child. I do a mini hop and the jingling sound starts again.

“It’s from your pocket. The right side one.” she said, pointing towards my jeans.


“It’s just the house keys!” I exclaim, my tone bordering on irritation. Why wasn’t she asking me about the cradle, I wondered.


As I emptied my pocket onto the bedside table, I was shocked. For in between the keys, were two small screws that were obviously part of the cradle.



Needless to say, that was the last time I was allowed to assemble anything. Nowadays, I’m only allowed two tools, as per my 'modern' D-I-Y Mantra.


[bctt tweet="DIY Mantra: Oil for things that should move, but don’t.

Tape for things that shouldn’t move, but do"]


Perhaps, my wife thinks that there isn't much trouble I can get into with just those two. Apparently, she doesn't know me as well as she thought she did.


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