I was this nut case of a kid who used to pick up interestingly shaped branches from the yard and drop’em in vases, or fill vases with flowers of the Mexican Lilac / Gliricidia or Seema Konna as we used to call it (totally insulted my grandma that I would bring flowers of such a lowly common tree aka. weed inside), or grow euphorbia in an old shoe, or DIY a vase out of the broken leg of a large hand-me-down doll. Of course all these decorating endeavors were met with a stern scolding for bringing in things that belonged in the yard.
Even with these adult interventions I carried on my antics. One such hilarious incident was making a changadam or raft (those things that float on water usually made of bamboo or reed poles, see pic below). We were vacationing at my grandparents’ whose yard (60% of the 1 acre or so compound) was flooded ‘coz of the heavy monsoons, which by the way used to be an annual thing. We had to wade through knee deep (I’m talking about 12-13 yr olds) water to get to my aunt’s home on the other side of the same compound to play with our cousins. Anyways as it usually happens with me I got bitten by the “I have to make something” bug and rounded up my sis and cousins and set to work on the raft.
We made ours with dried out areca nut wood. The areca nut tree trunks wouldn’t usually float but the ones I chose had a tough life fighting a loosing battle with insect rot. So the insides were pretty hollow and they weighed very less; technically those should float. We managed to cut them in uniform lengths and tied them down with rope to actually make something that looked like the above pic. We had a low lying area in the yard which used to be like a 4 ft deep swimming pool co-inhabited by snakes and paddy field crabs. We were not allowed into that water ‘coz of the obvious safety reasons. The mastermind of the operation, yours truly decided to do the trial run in those tabooed waters and gently nudged the raft in. It floated! Yay! Success!
What more could I ask for other than to personally test it out? So jumped right in. Within seconds the whole thing sunk royally and I of course fell into the “not so safe” water. And as luck would have it who was watching the entire episode? My very strict by the books college professor dad! 🙂 You can imagine what would have followed. To put it gently, weeks of grounding for moi and a day or 2 (I think) for my poor cousins. Frankly I was too psyched that I built something (though it was a dud) to worry about being grounded. To this day I wonder how overprotective my dad, an avid DIY’er himself in the DIY starved India, would have been to ignore the whole creativity aspect of the endeavor.
The DIY streak soon died down as high school and college took over. All along I’ve known that I had little in common with the folks I was surrounded by, which could have been the root cause of my reserved nature. Back in those days in Kerala (and even now) talent meant either singing or dancing and if you stretch it maybe acting and writing (the last 2 were far far behind the first 2). Even with acting and writing, both of which I tried my hand at and loved, you were restricted by what was considered the norm. Every other talent was not even worth being “looked out for” or encouraged. If none of these were your forte no one noticed you and that was what happened to me. I think the basic Indian nature is to group people into boxes and fortunately or unfortunately I didn’t fit in any box or conform to what was the standard. All through my years in India I swam with the tide swaying from one side to another without figuring out what my “thing” was.
Moving to this beautiful country which celebrates “being different” as individuality made me realize that it is ok to be different. Still hadn’t figured out what my “thing” was until years later when I stumbled on home decorating & DIY blogs. There I hit the jackpot. All of a sudden a group of folks with whom I identified with opened up before me. These were people who preferred to spend a free day with a glue gun or a paint can or a hammer or a sewing machine over trips or movies or TV! I finally belonged in a group! Seriously folks it took me 33 years to figure out what my ‘thing’ was!
With this realization came the need to let the my passion out and in that process help anyone else out there identify theirs. If I can finally find my ‘thing’ after 33 years then so can you. If you already know what your dreams are and are jittery about following them, then please do not procrastinate. I tell ya, nothing can beat the feeling of seeing your dreams sprout wings and take that first flight.
Have a great weekend!