Our boys of the carpentry unit had gone to the apartment of our esteemed friend Mr Thirumalai a few days ago to try out their newly acquired skills in furnishing woodwork, and though there was no feedback as yet from our benefactor on the accomplishment of their mission, I decided to go over and see for myself the havoc wrought. Both Mr and Mrs . Thirumalai received me with joyful thanks and a delicious hot beverage, and even before I could ask they said in one voice.
“Your workmen are the best we have ever seen in life; they are absolutely reliable, dependable and punctual, methodical and meticulous”.
As I settled down on the sofa with the cheering cup to have a chat with them, I perceived our Ramesh thoroughly sanding a wooden surface in preparation for the final polishing, so absorbed in their work and their faces revealing such delight at noticing the newer ranges of tones and lines emerging in the process on the wooden surface that they were totally oblivious of my arrival. I learnt that such concentration and single-minded dedication is rarely found in carpenters these days, unless exceptionally, and generally the fellows disappear suddenly for an eternity of tea break or simply do the vanishing trick after collecting the advance, and they are not to be blamed because the demand for good carpenters far exceeds the supply.
Indeed one must be very lucky to get such good carpenters like ours, it seems. With legitimate pride I viewed the boys select and use many mysterious tools with great expertise and perfect knowledge, which is to be used for which. It is not for nothing that they are disciples of the illustrious Velankanni, our carpentry instructor. I found them absolutely careful in driving home a nail; a thing I have never been able to perform safely all my life without every time hammering my thumb. In fact my admiration prompted to comment upon it, with the result that I was given on the spot a brief lesson in carpentry, my first lesson, by Kumar. He impressed upon me how the handle of the hammer is to be held such that it acts as an extension of the arm to produce additional leverage and force while striking a nail safely. And then they taught me the identification of the scale, trysquare, marking gauge, marking scriber, hand saw, rip saw, crosscut saw, compass saw, jack plane, rasp file, smooth file, firmer chisel, claw hammer, screw driver and pincer, and I was well on the way to my apprenticeship, to the great delight of Mr Thirumali .
He said, “Their enthusiasm is simply contagious”. We convey our grateful thanks to Mr and Mrs Thirumalai for giving us this opportunity to do the entire woodwork in their new modern, sprawling, first floor house. Our boys assisted the supervisors in the production of innumerable doors, windows, wardrobes using good wood and material and Pathway now looks forward for more challenging contracts which help earn some revenue, and also utilize the abilities of our adolescents and adults of Pathway to employ many employable disabled persons. This craft experience kindles new ideas in them and builds new relationships for them, new learning and new adaptations, besides constant stimulation of activity-oriented problem-solving skills, says Thirumalai. I saw Ramesh meanwhile start sawing a piece of wood with short strokes and then slowly move on to full-length even strokes.
Nagalingam was adjusting a screw for the correct depth of the cutting edge to suit the kind of wood on hand, considering the nature of the grains and the amount of push necessary. Can I have one more cup of this?” ( indian Bourn Vita is sometimes very tempting!) The day’s work was coming to a close and the boys cleaned the area thoroughly and stored the tools carefully away. Remember Izaac Walton who wrote that famous book on fishing, under the title “The Compleat angler”-(Yes, that is the spelling in the book, unless I am completely wrong)- and now we intend to bring out a manual called “The Compleat Carpentry”, namely a carpenter from Pathway.
(Our carpentry unit comprises, besides the above three, the following: Zakir, Ritesh, Prakash, Ashirvadam, Kuberdoss, Annamalai, Giridharan, Ganesh, Senthil, Mohan and Ramesh. They have already started earning a living, and they have to their credit so far many doors, several windows, incl. French windows, artistic front doors, decorative prayer shelves and cases, class room furniture, fancy teak work, wardrobes, kitchen shelves and miscellaneous items). RK