Demolition and Modification
It’s not about perfect. It’s about effort.
And when you bring that effort every single day,
That’s where transformation happens.
That’s how change occurs.
Jillian Michales, (b. 1974), American Personal Trainer
I vividly recall, the day I got discharged from the hospital after my second surgery to establish negative region as the growth in my right nostril was diagnosed as malignant. It was the eighth day of Dussera* and the hospital staff was busy in organising for the celebrations, as the following two days were holidays. I had already spent five days in the hospital and was itching to get back home. When I inquired with the matron about discharge, she said that my oncologist had left for Goa on a holiday and would return only two days later. Hence, I may have to wait. I rang up my oncologist on his mobile phone and told him that I felt fit enough to return home. I requested him to advice the hospital staff to discharge me. He instructed the matron over phone to discharge me by evening.
In a month’s time, I was able to move around and started visiting Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) and Karnataka Industrial Area Development Board (KIADB) offices to follow up with compensation for the additional area. I also identified a contractor by name Ananth who was building a four-storey building just behind our ancestral home. Ananth said that generally he did not take up any contract less than a couple of crores. I convinced him that he could supply the materials and provide only the labour or connect me to independent contractors to whom he normally outsourced jobs like civil construction, electrical works, painting, etc. and that I would directly settle their payments on weekly basis.
To get some help with the modification, I called up Dr. Yogananda, the architect who had designed the house that Hema had built in 1999. He suggested another architect Pankaj Modi who had specialized in preservation of heritage properties. Pankaj was also teaching in couple of engineering colleges. Pankaj suggested that I engage the services of Kanickraj, assistant of Dr. Yogananda, to take care of the structural aspects.
As the house at Malleswaram to which we had moved into during September 2008 was not big enough for the five of us, I decided to move into the neighbouring property – an independent, four bedroom, three-storey building. By the end of February 2009 we settled down in the new house. Meanwhile, I finalized the plan for modifications and additions to the ancestral home with the help of Pankaj.
In a span of thirty-eight years, this was the ninth time I was getting into modifying the house, but it was a humungous task this time for various reasons – my prevailing health conditions, constant follow-up with government officials for compensation, and my thesis writing that demanded more focus, just to name a few. I had a couple of on-going assignments too but that did not demand too much of time as it demanded efforts. Added to this, Hema developed certain menopause-related issues and had to undergo hysterectomy during June 2009.
The civil work went on for over twenty months starting from April 2009. During this period I had to work with several civil contractors: Murugan #1 for three months, then it was Palani for a couple of months, followed by Ekambaram for nearly six months, and Murugan #2 for seven months. There were two electrical contractors, two painting contractors, and two plumbing contractors apart from tile / marble-laying contractors. Typically, each of these small-time contractors were migrants from neighbouring states of Tamil Nadu or Kerala who had initially come to earn their livelihood and over time had become freelancing contractors.
While there were a few minor modifications in the ground floor, the open space on the first floor terrace was converted to drawing room, veranda and stair-case room, apart from two more rooms being added in the second floor. Most of the items like grill-work, doors, windows, steel stair-case were reused. Depending on the floor in which work was being done, all the household items had to be first transferred before taking up the work. As there were a few demolitions as well as a few additions in each of the floors, taking out and bringing in materials have to be done one after the other. With repeated change in the civil team, execution of such a project would test patience of any professional. Fortunately since my childhood, I had observed my mother and paternal grandmother bringing us up (five of us being of different nature) in much tougher conditions. This learning had come handy for me during such situations. For every visit of Pankaj, I had to pay him Rs. 500 in addition to his overall consultancy charges of Rs. 25,000. I ended up paying him Rs.75,000, which should give an idea of the number of visits Pankaj made!
In the midst of all these modifications, I could also spend a few hours every day, mostly in the late evenings to write my thesis. My supervisor, Prof. M. K. Sridhar was then on deputation from Bangalore University to the Government of Karnataka to work as Secretary and Executive Director of Karnataka Knowledge Commission. Apart from visiting my home in person when I was discharged from the hospital, he motivated me at every stage as every chapter was completed. I managed to complete the thesis in the first week of November 2009. As I completed my sixtieth year of existence on this planet, I was awarded a PhD degree after defending my thesis (27 July 2010).
Meanwhile, having completed sixty years, my family organised a small get-together of my close relatives at the Malleswaram residence. After this, Hema went on a week long pilgrimage to Badrinath along with her mother, aunt, brother, and his family.
Before moving back to our ancestral home, we performed a Sudarshana homa, which is supposed to give relief from unintended worries and sufferings. We moved back to our ancestral home during second week of March 2011, this time to live on the first floor. Some modifications were pending in the ground floor, which also was the storehouse for the many items gathered over generations. Living in the first floor also enabled us to use Kaveri Hall on a daily basis. While settling down, never did we imagine that we would have to move out again!
* 10 day festival celebrated across India
July 15, 2021 | Ravi 48