I was at a friend’s house in Long Island in New York yesterday. He was proudly showing me around the house. He took me to the living room, the bedrooms, the guest room, the kitchen and the room. We spoke of this and that. It was all very pleasant and cordial. Then suddenly, a chill entered the atmosphere.
‘This’ he announced, ‘is the basement’ stepping into an area that seemed to be as big as a football field. I always feel intimidated in the company of many men from the western world when I enter a basement. Because that is the area which contains ‘manly’ tools and equipment of adventurous nature. Something that looked like a space-shuttle caught my attention. ‘What’s this?’ I asked, trying to sound cheery and nonchalant.
‘That’s the a/c unit’ he drawled ‘and that’ – he pointed to the left, ‘is the plumbing unit’.
‘I see’ I said, guardedly. I wanted to ask some bright, manly questions and tried hard to think of one. ‘Is everything okay?’ I asked.
He looked at me sharply. ‘What?’
‘Er.. I mean, is it working well? All these units and ..things?’
‘Why shouldn’t it?’ he asked. A small note of hostility had crept into his voice. ‘They are in perfect working condition.’
‘Yes, yes’ I said, trying to sound conciliatory. ‘They er … look very good. That’s er… why I asked. Excellent units.’
He went on to show me pneumatic drills, drivers, chisels, spanners, spades, lawn mowers, ropes, lumber, saw, brushes, paints, a tandoor oven and a tree house that he had built himself.
I don’t know why but basements always make me feel small and useless.
PG Bhaskar is a private banker and has authored several books. He tries hard to keep up with the times @bhaskarpg and www.pgbhaskar.com. Look out for his weekly humor column on B-Change Saturdays.