A father, a mother, a child, a school, but the plot differs. Two units, with two separate tales:
A rich couple they were, their luxurious life was being reflected in the richness of appetite. Their son had bright eyes and a cherubic face. I was fascinated by how innocent he looked. I asked him “Do you go to School?” He glared at me and said “NO!”
I was taken aback. His mother said, “No! Wrong! Yes he goes to school, a very nice school.”
With an impish gleam he said, “I will hit you with my guns…I’ll slap you!”
I shivered at the thought of where he must have picked it up. Is it television? Is it the neighbourhood? Is it home? Does he do the same at school?
The little boy eyed the sweets shyly while I spoke to his elder brother. His parents were greeting the others.
“Hey have it, you will like it” I said to the little one. He looked at his mother for approval, she smiled and said “Pick only one, its dinner time.”
He took it and ran.
The mother shared her fears with us.”I am worried, he hasn’t received his letter for admission to the new school, I sat with him through the interview, it went excellent.”
“Did you ask the administration?” we were curious.
“They hinted at something…I don’t know why but they said they felt he was weak in performance…he gave every answer…” she was tearful. Last year her friend had to pay a huge amount of money for her daughter’s admission to that school, this mother was worried.
I had gone through Eric Berne’s ‘Transactional Analysis’ (http://www.ericberne.com/transactional_analysis_description.htm) for a certain Project, and realized that it would be much more convenient to understand or perceive if simplified or played with, at maybe an individual level. So I came up with a few audacious attempts, kindly excuse as just that: attempts. They are comic reactions of the three Egos to a certain situation. Adult Ego being the most pragmatic. However, here I have depicted them as acting individually just to characterize them, rather than showing them simultaneously, as it should have been otherwise. In order of drawing: Adult Ego, Parent Ego, Child Ego. (Experts in Psychoanalysis, Psychotherapy and so on, please forgive 🙂 )
I went for a formal training in design schools. When I share this with acquaintances they look at me with either undue suspicion or abysmal gaze, in either case they disconnect me from themselves and daily life. A few polite ways of doing so are adjectives such as different, unconventional, passionate, creative, mad and well I had to stick to polite ones so…
However this post is not to prove my stand, this post is to clarify that like anything else Design begins from home. It is a part and parcel of daily life as much as air and water, and training or no training, we all implement design. Some of us just chose to study it in-depth. Like a sociology student would indulge a little more in society and the scientist in science. It does not dissuade the rest of us from being connected to both does it?
My realization apart from many a discussions with peers, comes from, well, home. I was sitting on the chair with the air of self-importance while reading a “very important” pdf on “education” while my mother was going around finishing her “daily chores”. She called me to the kitchen and I was surprised to see what she was up to. After a long day at work and then home, she was now trying to fix a problem. Her utensil stand was being devoured by rust and bits and pieces were falling on the floor. She was standing with a brown tape (used in packing) and a pair of scissors, and had that gleam in her eyes. The gleam when you find that perfect idea after a rigorous brainstorming session. And I understood what she was up to. She was trying to cover the rusted sides with tape till she gets time to buy a new one. I offered to do it for her. She then demonstrated how to do it. Very meticulously she would start winding the tape over the side such that it does not twist and is not wasted. Even after the number of years spent in thriving on design books, I know I would be gauche at that. I was gloating all night, wow, my mother was a designer all this while, I should observe her and learn than spoiling my eyes in front of a screen day and night. Every single task that she performs, she unconsciously devises her solutions, its like breathing in and out.
This also takes me to the letters my mother writes. I always credit my father for investing in us the time to acquaint us and make us enjoy arts, writing and design. However only recently I realized that my love for storytelling is also genetic. It’s from my mother! Whenever our parents would go out of station, my mother would leave letters for me, deliberately funny and also informative as to how the house is to be managed even if just for a day. To add-on, my mother documented her entire trip to Europe last year through writing while my father made videos. Together they have created an amazing resource for us to lavishly feed on.
If I go a little farther in history, my grandmother was very particular about the dresses her daughter’s would wear. She would go beyond limits to get the perfect cloth and accessories, design “modern” dresses and doll them up. She recently gifted me a documentation of my grandfather’s recipes of jams, juices and wines.
Design is not always a deliberate nomenclature for an activity, it’s just there…everywhere…
More often than not, I work from home. Now that I think of it, I spent more of my graduating years working at home than in the institute. At times it’s not even a matter of choice; it’s my strongest survival tactic. I have spoilt myself with the comforts that are an understandable part of living with your parents. But this is not always a rosy picture.
Every place has its pros and cons, and so does, unfortunately, Home, door bell and phone calls left aside. My concern here is with S PA C E.
When in School, I had a stereotypical study table with the lamp and (best out of waste) pen stand. My imagination bound well within limits, I am certain that it was a conspiracy to have the table blown out of proportions especially during examinations. It not just served as a dreadful reminder for doomsday, it forbade sleep altogether. No matter what the number, that table always had space for a few more books; a little adjustment and one could also place the extra color pencil set for the Political Map.
In due course, my tools changed into huge sheets, innumerable colours (mostly unwanted), objects and toys picked up from various places, thicker and bigger books, unnecessarily complicated scales and protractors i.e. geometry set (only used for intimidation and self protection against hypothetical thieves, rarely for work) and so on. The table gave up and the bed bore the brunt. Lest I forget, bags of books collected since childhood are regularly updated with comics and graphic novels which are now a part of my wardrobe due to lack of safe storage area. My room has since been fluctuating between serving as a guest room, cloak room, attic, and workshop and when time would permit, bed room.
My mother is a generous soul; she called the carpenter and had him make two small tables to be used on the bed. I being used to the massive space of the bed, could not confine myself to the relatively miniscule table top. So now the table serves as a rack for more prestigious books and items like i-pod, which if lost in the rest of the paraphernalia, will hamper my work speed emotionally if nothing else.
I remember working like this for at least four years now, and it had been going pretty well I must say. But nothing in life is permanent. Sigh!
Winters are time for hibernation and the months of December and January witness the lowest levels of energy in me. This year, for a change, I was travelling and energetic and hoped to get back and work with full conviction. Howsoever, the spirit could not hold against the luxury embedded in a bed and the negativity personified by clutter. I spent more than a month fighting daily restlessness and frustration at not performing.
Amidst all this, I went to an organization for a week. The first day was a mere discussion and within an hour I was free. But something held me back. Every person in that space was working, and had a purpose to deliver. I stayed back and finished writing an essay I had been procrastinating for a week. I finished it in less than two hours. I could not believe myself. I felt sincere and efficient. I immediately bestowed all credit to the organization and their work environment. I had the same experience on all the following days. I would not even take calls. I returned home every evening, extremely impressed and determined to go back, high cost of living and lesser compensation felt trivial in front of my regained efficiency.
On my return journey, I thought over it and recalled the reasons for me reacting so positively. I concluded it was not to do with people, the timings were flexible, people would be joking around, in fact I never noticed anyone else. It had nothing to with the fact that it was an office either; the difference was I, myself. I had consciously assigned a sense of purpose and an almost spiritual meaning to a huge chair and table. Such was my determination to concentrate that I did not check any mail other than work for a week, which otherwise happens by the hour. I would do the same, if I sit on a chair with a table at the railway station, at the highway or even inside a pub. The surroundings hardly matter. This took me back to times when I, a nerdy child, would solve Math Problems inside the car unaware of the world passing by, or when I would revise a chapter while gobbling down food in a marriage ceremony. Tenacity is all I required.
On my return, I removed the clutter, including the clutter in my mail inbox, segregating and grouping my entire life. I made a time table (it includes visit to Comic Con), and I shifted my laptop and books to another room which has an old computer table and a chair. I sleep in my own room and go to that room for work. It makes a difference, a lot of difference. Space matters and a little change can make work happen.