Sangeeta Narayanaswamy

(instant messenger conversation)
Julia (9:58:35 AM 10th march' 2004): listen...
sangeeta (9:58:36 AM 10th march' 2004): yes
Julia (9:58:49 AM 10th march' 2004): i need your help with something
sangeeta (9:58:52 AM 10th march' 2004): sure
Julia (9:58:54 AM 10th march' 2004): i need a wall.
sangeeta (9:59:07 AM 10thmarch' 2004): a what???

…and that's how it began. In her words, Julia needed a "fairly public place that we can do a mosaic on - somewhere in Hyderabad". She wanted to contribute in beautifying the place.

Now where on earth was I to find this wall?? The first that I could think of was the wall in our office building, near the car park. It was cemented and was the ideal for the mosaic, even though not really a public place. So, I went to the owner of this building and asked him if we could use the wall. He first looked at me possibly wondering if I was crazy, and then said he needed to see some sample work. There was not enough time for that, so kept looking. After that every public place I would look for a wall :) by the main roads, streets even in the place where I lived. None really fit the requirement.

And what was Julia doing, meanwhile, she kept sending me instant messages in the middle of the night asking me if I had found the WALL and also a list of things that we would need to do this mosaic. I kept telling myself "what did you get yourself into Sangee!?". It sounded very interesting but where was I to find this WALL?

In a conversation with my family I realized that the one in Hyderabad had a nice wall, which was inside a street but at a nice location. I informed Julia that we could check it out once we got to Hyderabad, and we did………………and that's how we found THE WALL.

The first steps, we visited the site (THE WALL) and Julia made a few minor changes to her design. The next task was to get hold of all the materials. Julia knew exactly what was needed and was certain that they would be available, the only catch was to translate it to the Indian version. It took a lot of our energy, and a few make do's but we found all that was needed. Phew!

The Material Hunt:: Julia let me know that there was a tile store right next to the office. I checked out there and they gave me the name of "Chawda Ceramics" and said I'd find all the stuff there. Once Julia got here, we first went to a tile store in "srinagar colony" and picked out the colorful tiles. Next, we went to Chawda Ceramics. They had the cute Disney tiles but not the grout we needed. They put us onto some dealer they had who said he could get the grout delivered to us in a week :) Yea right! Julia had the number of the laticrete dealer (from Sumitra who is a mosaic artist in Bangalore). We got there and our luck :) the guy said he could get the grout delivered to us in time. Phew! We then went around and collected gloves and the other stuff we needed. By the time we reached the d-day, we had all the required and make-do materials with us. :)

Day 1:: We started work on the 23rd of April, a Friday evening. Sat in front of my Aunt's home and started breaking the tiles we had bought. I told myself, what a weird thing to do, but little did I know how much of a difference this was going to make. Julia started drawing the design on the wall. She also made the cement and told us how to get the tiles up on the wall. We started getting some of the tiles on the wall to start the process of learning. By the end of the evening we had a lot of broken tiles, a few tiles on the wall and a small bunch of onlookers.

Day 2 :: 24th April: We started work early. Carrie, Anuradha, her daughter, Brunda, Rajiv (bru's husband), Julia and I started picking up the colorful broken tiles, sticking a little cement to it and sticking it to the part of the wall, which was marked with the specific colors. Erik provided us the music that added entertainment. He was also the go-to person to get the tiles nipped. As the day progressed we started having quite a few onlookers who were possibly puzzled and wondering what all these crazy people doing out here in the sun, sitting on the street, playing music and breaking tiles!! Linda and her boyfriend joined us for a while and pitched in. We worked till the sun came down :) and then carefully put a tarpaulin on it and covered it, just in case it rained.

Day 3:: 25th April: We got back to work. The design was covered with tiles. Different colors, beautiful. :) This was the complete mosaic. Julia made the grout and then taught us how to grout the wall. We filled in the wall, careful about not getting the grout on the tiles and let it be for more than an hour. The next step was to clean up the wall and there it was… the most creative thing I had lent a hand to, in my entire life, and had amazing fun doing it.

26th April:: We went down and checked our work. It stood there all colourful and amazing. This day was also Julia's birthday……. It seemed like her birthday gift to her :) Am glad I had a role of play in it.