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Experience: Do it yourself

November 27, 2011

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In the tumultuous but fun journey called teens, hairstyling became one of the things on my list of prioritised “things-to-do”. So me and my friend Ruxana who had similar ideas about how our hair could change our universe, started experimenting with great enthusiasm. And this was my first major stint with “Do It Yourself” or “DIY” experimentation.

We made mistakes along the way. I remember that in an attempt to have red streaks, I first had to cut the colour of big chunks of my hair. Before buying the red dye in excitement I cut the colour. I had hay-coloured, crispy, stiff, Cyndi Lauper hair for a week, before the desired red dye was available in the market. But when it was finally done, I felt like a new person and loved the feeling that I had done something for which a professional is hired and loads of rupees are blown away. Over the years, I also did myself what was called “streaking” (yes, very ‘90s). I read up every available article on the subject in any glossy fashion magazine I could get my hands on. We mustered courage and I gathered the weaponry – foil, polythene bags to fit over my head, hand gloves, a kit of simple hair dye. With my head fitted with a plastic bag, my friend did the painful job of making holes in the plastic, pulling out thin strands of my hair, and applying dye on it. The result was actually good!

A term coined in the ‘50s mostly with reference to home-improvement tasks without the aid of a professional, DIY has today taken on a broader meaning. It is a term used to describe building, modifying, or repairing of something without the aid of experts or professionals. Today it can mean home-improvement or maintenance skills like fixing your car, creating a personal computer with parts that you may buy and assembling them, plumbing, painting and landscaping your garden. It also means creativity with arts and craft, cooking, hairdos and interior design.

Mahvesh Javeed, a psychologist, has landscaped her entire backyard, painstakingly, and the result is breath-taking. She does gardening as a labour of love. “Dawn and dusk are the best time for gardening. Flowers release their fragrances and cool breezes whirl them. Wind makes the leaves sway, stems react lovingly to your voice and hands, and the smell of fresh earth wafts up to you as you sift through soil to aerate and water it. Gardening is a conduit for being a nurturer, for inner tranquility, and appreciating nature all in one breath. Nothing beats the feeling of observing your hard work bear fruit as the seeds become seedlings, plants, flowers, and fruits,” shares Javeed.

Javeed’s description of the joy of gardening, laced with imagery, brings us to one major reason why the turn of the century saw more emphasis on DIY. The modern educational system seems to aim at the creation of a cerebral character, with theoretical knowledge of things, but lesser “learning” that comes from a hands-on approach of doing small things yourself. Resultingly, we have lesser material and physical competence of doing small tasks. Carpentry, sewing, knitting, or a simple task like changing the nets of the windows ourselves have become dying arts that enrich the soul.

Plus, the economic aspect cannot be forgotten. DIY saves you a lot of bucks, and gives you a sense of accomplishment.

Sheharyar Imran, a 16 year old, recently painted the walls of his bedroom himself, and had great fun doing it. “The experience was completely worth the effort! It gave me an immense sense of satisfaction to actually do it by myself (something that is easier said than done) and not rely on others to do my work for me. Hunting for various supplies, sweating it out and getting your hands dirty, all add to the fun of going all out and doing it yourself,” says Imran, beaming with pride.

Khadija Raza Baig, a teacher, has experimented with a different kind of DIY. “I'd always been interested in art but couldn't draw a line to save my life,” says Baig, who has learnt to practice art as an answer to mounting pressures of life. In so doing, Baig has done herself what would require professional help from both an art teacher and a therapist. “I have read lots of books and studied art forms on my own. Prayers and meditation guided me towards drawing and painting. Whenever I was confronted with a situation beyond my control, I would disconnect from the world and indulge myself in drawing and painting, especially enjoying Islamic,Arabesque, Persian and Moroccan art forms and tessellation. Each instance made me emerge a happier person, with a better frame of mind to handle complexities.”

After moving into my new home, one fine day I went to the offering toolbox that lay in a corner of my store. An electric drill, a hammer, nails and wooden stubs to fix in the holes, coupled with a firm resolve to make my empty walls come alive. It took me all of two hours to put up my wall-hangings. I still love those particular wall hangings more than the others which were hung up by me. DIY experiences are about testing your limits and pushing the boundaries by challenging yourself. If you haven’t tried it yet, it’s time you did.