A pall of gloom descended on Prateek’s family bungalow in the town of Vaikom, Kerala. Prateek Nair paced the room anxiously as  a group of professionals in white coats worked diligently in the next room. His father’s health lay in the hands of these people and he prayed with all his might that things turn out for the better.

Prateek’s happy life in the United States was shattered on a thanksgiving winter night when he received a call from his caretaker in Vaikom. “Sir, there was massive rain tonight and all the antique paintings in the basement were drenched. There are lots of stains”, he said. Prateek’s 84 year old dad was an avid collector of paintings, most of which were more than centuries old, passed on to him through generations. He had cared for them more than his life. He had infact, after his wife’s death, refused to leave his Vaikom bungalow to stay with Prateek in the USA because he wanted to look after the paintings. Prateek had appointed a caretaker just so that his dad could live with him without having to worry about the paintings. “How bad is the damage?”, asked Prateek. “I dont know sir, but i showed it to a few people, they say none of them can be restored”, Mani replied. Prateek froze for a moment, not because the paintings were irrepairable but because he knew his father wouldnt survive the news, given how passionate he was about his collection. Since his dad had already suffered 2 strokes he had to find a way to convey the news in a subtle manner.

Prateek couldnt sleep that night. Moreover, he had an impending strategy meeting at the IT startup where he worked. His boss had already sent him several emails regarding the upcoming board meeting. “Whats the matter, you look upset? Can i help ?” , asked his boss, as he entered Prateek’s cabin. “Sorry Conrad, can we push this meeting for next week? , a personal issue has come up !”, retorted Prateek. “Hmm that will be tough, whats the matter? I can take up the presentation for you” , Conrad suggested sympathetically. “My dad’s treasured antique paintings were drenched in rain, i need to travel to India to assess the damage. Iam petrified how to disclose the news to my dad, he wont take it well”, lamented Prateek. “If you dont mind, can i recommend something? Last year when i had been to my hometown in Austria, i had met an art fanatic at the Opera through a common friend. The guy was a art restoration expert and worked with diplomats worldwide and provided his expertise to restore masterpieces. I had taken his number, do you want to speak to him before you go to India?”, enquired Conrad. Prateek’s face lit up as he said, “sure Conrad, that had be a great help, i dont mind shelling out even 10000-15000 USD to get the paintings fixed if thats possible!”. “Are you kidding, 10000-15000 USD to fix the paintings?”, remarked Conrad a bit surprised. “Yeah i know it would be lesser, i just wanted you to know how important it is for my dad” , responded Prateek. Conrad looked at Prateek and mentioned,  “these experts are not just doctors performing an operation, they are art surgeons who intricately and skilfully restore paintings to their past grandeur. A single restoration would set you back by 150000 USD atleast ” . As Prateek looked stunned, Conrad placed the business card of the art expert on Prateek’s table and left saying , “I will handle the presentation , you call up the guy and check your options”.

“Yes this is Vinay, how may i help you”, said the voice at the other end. “Hi, iam speaking from the United States. I got your number from someone who met you in Austria at an opera. Several of my personal paintings were damaged due to rains. I need an expert who can look at them and see what can be done”, Prateek pleaded. “Sorry sir, we dont take up individual requests. We work with governments and institutes”, said Vinay. As Prateek nodded and was about to put down his phone, Vinay asked curiously, “your name sir and where are these paintings?”. “My name is Prateek Nair and these paintings are in my hometown Vaikom where they were submerged in rainwater”, replied Prateek. “Prateek Nair from Vaikom matriculation school?” , exclaimed Vinay. “yes thats correct!”, replied a startled Prateek. “Dont you remember me, we studied together at school. I was that short guy who was always sketching and daydreaming in class. Our maths teacher always made me standup on the bench for not doing homework. You guys used to always encourage my paintings. I was probably the only student in class whose parents visited the principal every month”, said Vinay jokingly. “Vinay?, yes yes, i remember very well ! What a coincidence?? I cant believe iam talking to you!”, blurted an overjoyed Prateek. “Ok lets get to work. Can we fly down by end of the week to take a look at your paintings in Vaikom?” asked Vinay.

Prateek’s deep thoughts were interrupted by Vinay. “You dont have to tell your dad anything about his paintings. They are restored”. Prateek couldnt believe his eyes when he looked at them, they were better than before the rains. “How did you do it?” asked an amazed Prateek. “You should thank my team. They matched the colours on your paintings with pigment databases and then were able to identify the right colours to restore the paintings to the original state”, mentioned a beaming Vinay looking at his team of experts. Prateek held Vinay with tears in his eyes and asked nervously, “how much do i owe you?” . Vinay glanced at Prateek and said , ” a long stay at your bungalow so i can admire my work and ofcourse a hot cup of filter coffee for us before we catch our flight back to Austria”.

Prateek and Vinay parted at the airport and they promised to meet at Vaikom so Prateek could fulfill his promise to host Vinay at his bungalow. As Prateek’s flight took off from Kochi International Airport he thought about his boss whose timely intervention helped meet his friend Vinay and save his father’s life.

Lets respect out Art experts !

Go through interviews from career professionals in Art Restoration