What an odd thing life is! A trio of tradesmen or tradies as they are called in Australia (the Aussie does not believe in wasting breath on speaking when it could be used on downing a Coopers Pale Ale) are working on installing fans, an antenna and other electrical stuff at home. One of them, in fact the one who looks the most forbidding and least likely to encourage conversation; a shaven headed giant who communicated with a series of grunts in the first hour, has been working on putting fans together at the dining table.
Now I have no sense of personal space or grumpiness, so I begin to talk to him; about tattoos, about steel toed work boots, about getting myself an electric drill.
Grunt. Grunt. Grumble. The beginnings of a smile.
Then he asks me if I am from India. I say yes. Turns out his father is Sri Lankan. His mother is British. he was born here. His father is in hospital, high blood sugar, does not drink but still got diabetes.
Me: It is the subcontinent. A thing called the famine gene. Predisposes us to diabetes and stuff. You need to be careful too.
He loves curries. His dad makes great food. Then he asks me, are you a good curry cook?
Me: I think so, I have been doing it for long enough.
Grunt, inaudible grunt. It turns out he is worried that he will never get to eat a good curry if something happens to his father.
In the last hour, we have talked about cricket of course, the fact that I know Mahanama’s Mum, Sri Lankan holidays (he has never been there, once) and about fifty other things. I supplied him with a magnetic tip screwdriver after he cut his hand twice trying to pull screws out through the grille above the fan.
I haven’t invited him back for dinner yet. But I am thinking. Especially since he knocked at least a couple of hundreds off the bill. Perhaps if he wore a shirt?
Just joking! I don’t care about that sort of thing at all.
(No, he did not install my fans.)