Sunday, December 05, 2010

My Painting Exercise This Morning

Things that look easy aren't that easy. Most notably those involving physical labour, such as painting. Well, good lesson learnt as I set out to work on the staircase that led to the terrace at the second level of my house. The rain was harsh this year and the coat of paint had peeled and rust was eating into the iron framework. Seeing the rotten iron framework and relating it to my recent commitment to physical fitness, I decide to paint it myself. I am confident. I was a well-known sketcher and painter in school and had won some awards and painting a railing is actually kid's play, not much bother, according to me.

So I bought primer, turpentine (what's called a thinner), some sand paper to scrape the rust and a brush and set out to work (Cost Rs 188.). The idea isn't to save money but to make exercise more meaningful. Instead of walking with hands swinging idly by the side I wanted to see if labour can save me any money. Two birds in one shot, right, eh? So, I forgo my morning walk and instead decide to work up a honest sweat. One thing I forgot, I was wearing good clothes and my rather nice clothes got splashed (It's not worth spoiling an expensive pair of shorts for a job worth Rs 200, is it?), so I changed into something more appropriate, i.e., shorts I haven't used for a long while and a promotional tee-shirt bought from a literary group I belong to (If you are interested, the name of this group starts with a "C".). Hm. 

I pour the turpentine into the tin of the primer and try to stir the contents, but the brush wouldn't go in. Lesson two: do buy a smaller brush that will go into the can of paint. Then I pour the whole can of turpentine into the tin of paint and stir. Uh-oh, too late. Too dilute and watery. Will do, I think.

Then I began work in earnest. Ronnie comes and gives advice, which he always does. He has been to a friend's house-painting party and has some experience in painting. He says the primer is a bit over-dilute (obviously), but will do and to start from the top of the stair and work down. He will periodically pop his head through the door and murmur some advice and disappear not heeding my plea to help out when the task got progressively harder. 

The scraping part over, I start painting. Wifey supplies some coffee and then some lemonade and commiserations. 

It's difficult painting something you can't see or are too near to see clearly. After coating the top horizontal portion (see picture) I come down to watch and appreciate my work and find that I have left a wide swathe of railing at the bottom, which I couldn't actually see from up there. Then I again climb back and rectify this. Now I know why painters stand back to watch their paintings. Haha!

Then Ronnie pops in to see the progress and I remark how difficult labour is and he says, "Who asked you to do it?" Which is really really very subversive. I swallow my pride. I calm myself saying this is also about accepting criticism and continue my work.

Then as I paint I look at the blue winter sky and appreciate it all the more. I appreciate the green coconut tree and the jackfruit tree in the courtyard more than on any other occasion in my life so far. When you work hard you appreciate things more. Another good lesson learnt, via the painting exercise. 

Then when I think I have finished, I notice that I have forgotten to paint under the stairs. These portions mock my handiwork of the morning. So up I go on a high stool to rectify this mistake and only then I realise the foolishness of painting directly above ones head. The paint drips into my eyes and I have to go and wash my eyes for fear of growing blind. At the washbasin I can't wash because my hands are full of wet paint. So I soap the hands and rid it of paint and then wash my eyes. 

This done. I resume painting of the underside of the staircase which proves ever harder as the sun is above me and I am squinting directly into it. My concentration is wavering and twice I almost knock the container of paint from the stool. Mercifully this also gets done. 

Then comes the cleaning of the fallen rust particles. Then the desperate washing with soap and hand lotion to get rid of the stains on my hands and forearms. These are stubborn and don't go away giving me a spotted-deer-sorta look. After rinsing for half an hour I decide to let it be and take a bath. 

Hindsight: if I had known it would take so much trouble and application of thought, I would have hired a labourer for Rs 250 and I am sure he would have done a better job. On the other hand there was so much learning in such a small task and I could feel the lazy muscles of my bulging ventral (front) region move for the first time in so many days. It was worth it, at least, on that count. 

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