Some days you just want to take a break from routine, phone, kitchen and just do nothing. ‘Like just chill’ how my daughter would say this. Therefore, today I decided to just play with TV remote, flick through channels randomly, news to movie to songs. Not settle on anything, just fly aimlessly. Just like the old times. Nothing to choose from.
My mind wandered to the time where we had limited choices. Limited Radio Stations. Limited TV channels in grey and black, no Dolby sound or techno-colours, just a wooden shutter on an oddly curved TV screen with knobs on one side. We enjoyed a life full of all colours, the vast green fields and jungles, blue skies, birds and trees and flowers everywhere.
I spent early years in remote Assam where mosquitos, reptiles, leeches and trees outnumbered humans. It took us good one year to adapt to the water, the weather, malaria and stomach illnesses. But adapt we did. By using thick heavy mosquito nets, carrying salt packets while walking to school to keep leeches off, sealing doorways and drains at night so snakes wouldn’t sneak in. It was Jungle Raj in true sense. Nature in its absolute glory and we were rewarded with beautiful sights and scents I remember till date. The ages old Papaya tree in the garden, the intoxicating scent of chameli shrubs at night, pitter-patter of rain all year round, toads croaking from all corners and the rain drops turning every leaf and shrub verdant green all around.
Pre internet generations respected nature. We didn’t waste food. Every morning a cow would arrive at the gate right on time and extra roti from night before was given to her, along with vegetable peels. We recycled every jam bottle and Dalda tin. Vegetables were sold under trees, brought home in sturdy woven wire baskets. Milk was delivered straight into the pateela or fetched in a steel bucket, the evening ritual. Life was simple. Lunch was packed in steel tiffins and groceries in newspaper packets. Water tables were not depleted and drinking water came from the hand pump or the tap.
Kifayat, the age old value system in Indian households doubled up as a common sense recycling philosophy. Consume consciously, waste nothing, dispose mindfully. I remember the days when plastic came into our lives. Steel tiffins were passé and we rushed to buy the lovely glossy colourful pencil boxes and water bottles. Milk packed in plastic packets appeared in kitchens. Yet, women rinsed and saved all milk packets for an exchange scheme by the company for some goody at the end of the month.
(Image credit: Scrapick)
Raddi wala carefully put a price to each plastic box and glass bottle. Nothing was casually thrown into waste basket. Even the waste basket used to be a recycled old metal bucket. Toys, stationery, clothes were limited and there was often a ritual around the purchase. Birthday, Diwali, marriage in the family, school function. Electronics and white goods were considered important purchases and were taken care of like an asset. We didn’t have a ‘Use, Throw, Buy again’ mindset.
Within a generation, we have seen huge advances in technology, globalisation, affluence and economic growth. Along with these, we have seen a trend of reverse degeneration of nature, at the same pace. Look around and behind every disaster and calamity, ecological imbalance is the root cause. Plastic and chemicals have seeped into our soil, water, food and bodies. We fight against deadly viruses, serious diseases and drastic pollution.
In grade 7, we were taught ‘arboriculture’ in extracurricular period in school. Plant a sapling and take care of it till it turns into a tree. Decorate area around it and write slogans. Me and my friend made a placard ‘We inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children’, a famous proverb.
I really worry what kind of planet we are leaving for our future generations. The Pandemic and lockdown have been a harrowing experience for all and the consequences of this are not going to easy on us or our children’s psyche. If this is not a wakeup call, what will be? How will the future look if we turn a blind eye to the catastrophe we have created?
Technology is going to revolutionise our lives further in many ways, but we still remain human. Panch-bBhoota, five elements are where we come from and we dissolve into. That is the most important truth. The only truth.
(Images credit: Unsplash)
‘This post is part of Blogchatter’s CauseAChatter’ (https://www.theblogchatter.com/causeachatter)
loved reading this, it brought back so many memories. I really miss the raddi wala here in the gulf, you have stacks and stacks of newspaper just going to waste as most people don’t want to take the trouble of going to recycling centre.
Thank you Harshita. Yes, I used to have guilt pangs everytime I threw newspapers down the garbage chute and bringing loads of plastic packing from Lulu.