In a fickle world consumer tastes and preferences keep on changing. Old household items/ paraphernalia are disposed of under the garb of de-cluttering your home. However certain possessions have stayed with me for quite some time. So much so that when I had to move out of Mumbai lock, stock and barrel I couldn’t bear the thought of getting separated from them. They accompanied me along with other possessions much to the amusement of packers and movers.
But for me, these are precious possessions. They are my lucky charms. In 1969, my father had purchased a coat stand and a Zenith brand cupboard. The coat stand, he tells me, was purchased at a price of Rs.25 and it was made of teak wood. The Zenith steel cupboard cost him Rs.200 and it still adorns the home where my parents live.
Though it was a coat stand, it did not have much utility value then. I would randomly keep books or newspapers on the lone shelf that the coat stand had. Sometimes shirts and trousers would be hung from the coat stand. As a 4 year old, the coat stand was also a hideout, whenever I played a prank and was scared about getting yanked for it. It was my constant companion all through my childhood and boyhood days.
Sitting in the comfort of the coat stand was reassuring whenever I was stressed out. For some time even I did not get much time to look at it. I had a tight schedule while pursuing a degree in oil technology from UDCT. Leaving home at 7 am in the morning and returning at 7 pm in the evening left me with little time to spend with my childhood mate – yes, the coat stand!
Today I talk to my coat stand as much as I can. A few years ago when I gave it to the carpenter for re-polishing it, I made it clear to him that he should handle it as delicately as possible. He was unable to hide his sense of disbelief but when I explained to him about my childhood companion, he was more empathetic. The coat stand is now being used by my son (see picture). Readers may find this ludicrous but it is impossible to break the bond with certain paraphernalia with whom we have established an emotional connect over the years.
When my mother got married in 1967, among other gifts that she received, she also carried a metal trunk box with her. It was lying unattended for a few years but as a 5-year old when I did not have anything else to store my books in our cramped one-room apartment in Mumbai, I grabbed the trunk box to store my notebooks and textbooks.
43 years have passed since I acquired the trunk box. The trunk box continues to hold all my notes pertaining to my doctoral research even now. God willing I may be able to complete my research early next year – however I have no plans to abandon my pet trunk box which has received three coats of paint until now. Even though the bottom of the trunk has developed minor abrasions, the utility value of the trunk box persists. As I plan to write at least one book every year, the trunk box will continue to be part of my support system.
When I had to live alone for a few months for professional commitments, I became a cook by chance. Suddenly I realised that I wasn’t such a bad cook at all. I also discovered that cooking was therapeutic.
Today I have graduated to making rotis and pooris even though I began my cooking experience with the banal curd rice and not-so-healthy noodles. Today I can cook up a full, wholesome South-Indian meal consisting of sambar, rasam, curry, kootu etc. We had purchased a scraper (see picture) way back in 1999 in Mulund.
This scraper has been my constant companion without which my cooking is never complete. I can’t recollect the brand name but 18 years have passed and this peeler has never failed me. Peeling off carrots, apples, cucumbers or beetroots is a cake walk with this peeler. Even the sometimes difficult-to-peel rich gourd has often bowed down against the strength of this peeler.
I am often amused at my bizarre attachment to these inanimate objects but for me they are not objects – but close companions. Readers need not worry – I have not lost my mental balance – not as yet ; generally pursuing a doctoral research program is emotionally overwhelming and exhausting if you are a perfectionist and are also on the wrong side of 40.
The pursuit of a doctoral research program has been nothing short of a roller-coaster ride for me and I do wish that I could have enjoyed doing it. But certain things are just not meant to be easy in life !My companions have been my sound boards during times of distress when I was tearing my hair how to progress from one setback to another in the course of doing research. I simply love them for the very reason that they have stood by me through thick and thin!