Three Weekends of Chaos

Two weekends ago, Amit and I had a long and serious conversation, at the end of which we decided…. Wait for this… that we really, really needed a second workstation at home. The reason was that, when we both work from home (whether working hours or evenings or weekends) one of us gets the workstation and the other gets the dining table and unadorned laptop. So far, I had been the “other” and hadn’t really minded. But now, I decided I needed the monitor to work on photographs (because the definition of “working from home” includes doing personal computer work using the home laptop and laptop screens don’t show true colors) and so Amit got to use the dining table. This was ergonomically so highly unsuitable for his build, that a new monitor was immediately purchased.

If you’ve stopped blinking at that brilliant non-sequitur, you’ll realize that this was just Amit’s way of getting us to buy a slim, flat, no-butt, BIG, sexy monitor, purportedly for me to use. This new monitor would sit on the dining table, and so would I (at, that is, not on) and I would use VNC (which it took him all day to configure on my office laptop – DON”T ask me why) over wireless to use the home laptop for photo-work. Amit, as before, would sit in the study, with the old (please note, the old) monitor at the old workstation.

That was the plan.

It didn’t last long. A few hours after the new monitor arrived, it had been firmly installed in place of the old monitor, and the old monitor had been firmly dumped in the guest bedroom cupboard (DON”T ask me why), where it was entirely inaccessible to me.

Thereafter, we spent that entire weekend trying to come up with a plan for how a second workstation could be concocted with the furniture we currently had in the house, because I could certainly not be expected to move the heavy, old, fat, ugly CRT monitor onto and off of the dining table every time I needed to use it. Amit enthusiastically set about dismantling a trolley that had always been part of our dining room furniture, intent on turning it into a workstation. After struggling at re-engineering it for one-and-a-half days, he was reluctantly forced to the conclusion that it was eminently unsuitable for workstation use. By that time, we had already purchased a replacement for the dining room, which I had spent roughly eighteen hours screwing together. It was a great example of totally unskilled carpentry, but it served the purpose and was a little more elegant than the trolley it had replaced.

So now we had a spare trolley, a spare monitor (not to mention a keyboard and mouse that had somehow slipped into the shopping cart along with the monitor), even a spare power strip, and still no second workstation.

Finally, last Sunday, after much discussion and experimentation we realized that none of the furniture we had at home could be adapted to workstation use, and we’d have to bite the bullet and go buy a ready-made workstation. So, like fools venturing where angels fear to tread, we hopped into the car and headed for Central Street. This, as many of you know, is stone’s throw from Shivajinagar – and that day, there were plenty of stones being thrown in the neighborhood of Shivajinagar, but of this small matter we were blissfully unaware. Pleasantly surprised to find little traffic and easy parking, we walked into the nearest shop, stated our requirements and were informed that the workstation would be manufactured and sent to us the next day, Monday. Of course, in the event, no workstation reached us on Monday, as Central Street closed down less than an hour later and did not reopen till Tuesday.

Now, the reason that it becomes really critical to get that big, fat, old monitor out of the cupboard in the guest bedroom and decently housed in the second workstation is that my parents and sister are visiting this weekend. And this weekend begins on Thursday!

My parents will not be staying with us due to various reasons too complicated to go in to here, but my sister will. And I can’t very well have her open the door of her cupboard and find the backside of a hulking big monitor staring her in the face. Well, I suppose I can, but I’d rather not.

The advent of parents and sister has also made a lot of other activity necessary. For starters, cleaning up the house, an activity which is usually only undertaken under threat of death or in-law visitations; since neither situation had threatened for several months now, the house had returned to its customary state of being, namely subdued chaos. The guest bedroom has a tendency to become a junk yard in a very short time, so enormous amounts of junk need to be unearthed and shifted out (to the study) whenever visitations are impending. The cupboard has to be emptied, the carpet has to be laid out, and the bed has to be re-discovered and made. Making the bed in a proper “western” style (bottom sheet, top sheet, with blanket laid on top and sheet turned over the blanket-top, bed-cover tucked under and over pillows with pillow-cases matching the bed-sheets) is exhausting at the best of times and doubly so when the bed in question is a 40kg cotton mattress spread on the ground adjacent to the wall and needs to be hefted this way and that in order to tuck in all the spare miles of sheet.

Additionally, I have the delightful tasks of cleaning bathrooms, tidying the study, and changing all the covers and runners in the living room.

As if all that weren’t enough, I found that my house-cleaning maid has been shirking work in a big way (what’s new about that) and that the balcony attached to the guest bedroom had about 25 kg of dirt in the far corner, and, what’s worse, some horrible weed had begun growing in it!!! I got so mad that I managed to scrape my thumb and cut my finger (and will probably develop tetanus) trying to clean all that.

Naturally, whenever I’m doing all this activity, Amit is busy watching tennis on TV, which leads in short order to an extremely volatile situation (him shouting at the television set and me shouting at him).

Once I had the house looking almost respectable (but for the monitor in the cupboard, where skeletons should be), Amit mentioned that the car could do with a bit of a clean-up as well. I told him to send it for servicing, and guess what? He did. Instead of fixing the problems with the zip-zap-zoom locking (no, that’s not the brand name, but you know what I mean) they made it worse, and now the back door will neither lock nor unlock centrally. But at least it looks clean and smells nice.

On our last trip to Metro (stocking up on liquor for the parents), we had made a monumental error. We sampled the cold meat cuts by the meat counter and enjoyed them so much that we picked up a roast leg of lamb, and a roast turkey leg and breast. Total cost: ~Rs 1200! Since we hadn’t bothered to check prices when picking up the cold meat, we almost swooned on the spot when we saw the bill at the checkout counter. How could we have spent Rs 1200 on 2 kilos of non-veg?

Our fridge being too tiny to accommodate 1200-bucks worth of non-veg, we sent the turkey home with some friends (hoping they’d eat it and we could then charge them for it) and stuffed the lamb leg into our freezer. Somewhere during the following two weeks, the shock of the price tag wore off and we braced ourselves to thaw and taste the lamb. It was quite nice… it’d do nicely for the impending family visit. I thawed it overnight and sliced it into sandwich-size chunks for our lunches.

Now it’s Wednesday and I’ve almost caught up with the laundry overflow from last weekend’s cleaning spree, and the car servicing has set us back and extra 800 bucks spent on getting the upholstery spruced up (a first!). This is time for me to catch my breath before my family lands on Thursday evening. After that, it’s going to be a long weekend of food, booze, shopping (my mother’s all-time favourite activity), talking nonsense and stuff like that. I’m looking forward to this.

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