allow me to begin by stating, for the record, that i know sweet jack-shit about bamboo. or crafts. or weaving. except weaving through heavy traffic. no, that's not entirely true. what i meant to say is that i have no useful knowledge of bamboo. or the rest of the thingamajigs i mentioned. as for useless knowledge, i have lots of it. especially about bamboo. when i was five or six, my weapon of choice for all my imaginary adventures was a 4 foot bamboo pole. my other weapon was a Kalashnikov automatic, but it had a habit of staying only in my imaginary world. then one day i was forced to give up the pole for the good of the society as it was urgently required to kill a harmless water snake some old neighbour lady found in her garden. it was returned smeared in snake blood, so i threw it away believing that snake blood brought curses with it. also i guess i was rather disappointed by the fact that my weapon of choice actually worked, unlike me. well, the curse of bamboo was to hit me much later in life.
after a few months in nid, which by the way was after many years out of touch with bamboo, my knowledge of the material increased. i got to know for instance that it was invented by MP Ranjan in the wood workshop and that right as i was lazing around in class, scientists around the world were figuring out how to use it to build roads, microchips and spacecraft. also when i went to buy the Hindi dub of the Matrix from Bhadra Fort with a friend whose purpose in life seemed to be bringing Hollywood to Bihar, i also discovered that there's an interestingly titled Hindi movie called 'tamboo me bamboo'. Suffice to say i was impressed, but having chosen aerospace to make my career, i couldn't see myself travelling in a bamboo aircraft (maybe we could have that movie in-flight but no more). and neither did i think I'd ever have anything to do with this wonder material, i was happy doing mundane stuff. well boy was i wrong! nid has an ingenious method of bringing people like me to places where they shouldn't be. its called a craft documentation. and lo, i find myself in thick jungle swatting mosquitoes and looking for bamboo. well, not really. i was in a resort in Coorg that had a handicraft unit, and i was figuring out how to classify ash trays made from bamboo as a traditional Indian craft. and i couldn't. so i invented a craft. and well, got away with it, sorta. but i still have this niggling fear that even as we speak, there may be armies of NGOs equipped with my document headed to Coorg to study this new craft.
along the way i found a partner in crime, Sachin. just as ignorant and unscrupulous as i am. about bamboo that is. so after the craft documentation/invention/field study adventure, we were reminiscing on the old days when like retired superheroes, we were called to action again. the bad guy was a freelance project that we needed to take down immediately. well, dangerous job, very vague understanding, and good money. what were we waiting for? we landed in a remote village in Kerala. hell, i didn't even know Kerala had remote villages. the village could be accessed via auto rickshaw or a river crossing on a boat, and we chose the latter so that when our superhero adventures are brought out by DC comics, they can romanticize our hardship.
i found out that the work had something to do with weaving and helping the women there to make products from woven bamboo strips. so i told them that sachin's a great expert in weaving, everything short of telling them he's post-graduated in weaving. i was safe. but well, being as unscrupulous as i am, he got his own back. i came to know that I'm the dyeing expert. the only dye i ever saw was the sort you apply on your hair, and the sum total of my expertise was applying stripes of the stuff on a stray dog and christening him 'tiger'. but then verbal gymnastics came as a default feature when i was born, like air bags on Mercs. so i figured i could weather the storm. after all, i am a survivor of seven juries under very taxing circumstances that would make a holocaust survivor proud. but then bamboo is jinxed for me. i figured wrong. The conversation went something like this :
One of the weavers : "Sir will this dye do?"
Now, she's holding a packet of some obscure looking substance that looks black in colour and I'm mentally debating my options.
I shoot, borrowing heavily from my association (read : having chai at bmw) with textile students : "I've worked only with chemical dyes.."
Weaver : "Sir this is chemical.. "
Me, shooting randomly now that my ploy has backfired : "I meant cloth dyes.."
Weaver : "Sir, this is cloth dye, we have no other dye in the local town market.."
Me, under heavy strain from the double backfire: "ahm.. well, i suppose we don't have a choice then.. "
If DC Comics ever bring out my superhero story, I'm now willing to bet they'd call it Adventures of Captain Obvious and Sneaky Sidekick.
Jim Morrison once said "I see myself as an intelligent and sensitive guy with the soul of a clown, which forces me to blow it at the most critical moments". This is especially true in my case, for i am rarely far from foul-ups. The sense of impending disaster regarding this project had set off more alarm bells in my head than riding pillion with Saurabh Deb on a motorcycle carrying two Powerbooks.
But I suppose it can be stated here that I managed the dyeing admirably enough to be made chairman of Bombay dyeing, save the fact that after all my sweating over the fire and in the sun the stupid dye did a weird sort of boil-dance and went 'pffffff' leaving my white pants in green polka dots. Oh yeah, it was only after i added the dye to water did i figure what colour it finally was. All along I was under the impression that it was yellow. And thank God that those weavers didn't know enough about dyes to ask questions that would have stumped me. I dunno what i would have told the poor devils who wished me a sing-song "good morning sir" every morning. And thanks to the devil too, for we had to dye bamboo on the exact same days i chose to wear white trousers. And I dont fancy green trousers.
But then fate is not all that bad. Even while engaged in the biggest foul up in the middle of nowhere, i could have the last laugh. It so happened that there are people in this world foolish enough to believe that I am employable and that proved to be my score against Sachin for making me the dyeing expert with green polka dotted trousers. I had to leave in the middle of things as i was urgently required as arch-nemesis for the multinational conglomerate that was foolish enough to offer me employment, and he is busy trying to figure out the bamboo spaceship i promised them he'd be building for them. Last heard, he was trying to teach them about tetrahedrons in an effort to distract them, but i have sold them the dream of becoming TASA (Thiruvananthapuram Aeronautics and Space Administration) so i guess he isnt meeting with much success. Mwahahahahahah, or what . And for the record, it felt good becoming and instant-mix furniture-textile-product designer in the face of overwhelming odds. I didnt know my design morals were that flexible; four years spent being ultra-condescending towards textile and furniture designers went down the drain when faced with money. Now that that's out of the way it wont be too hard kissing some boss ass to climb the metaphorical ladder.
I suppose i can now peacefully figure out how to go about correcting the mistake of the poor sods who thought i was employable. If I'm successful, the world would be rid of one more Fortune 500 company.
PS - I believe women should be chained to the kitchen, preferably naked. If that whole article didn't emphasize my political incorrectness, I hope this last sentence restored my credentials.
PS2 - This is a semi-fictional work of satire. The fictional parts are a closely guarded secret.
PS3 - Out in stores now. I want one for my birthday.