Do you belong to a family that loves its tradition and cherishes its heritage? I do. I feel highly elated every time some old member of my family tells me how my forefathers rode the city of <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-comffice:smarttags" /><st1:City><st1lace>Chennai</st1lace></st1:City> like a Colossus. The serene photographs of my great grandparents in their colourful wedding attire act on me like H.G. Wells' Time Machine and transport me to the 1800's. The stories of their exploits and failures fill me with a warm glow and enable me to take on life's challenges with grit and determination. Cursed are those who do not have a nonagenarian living with them. I am singularly fortunate to have one living with me. I never tire of listening to the stories of early 1900’s. I always listen to my mother with a wide open mouth like a hippo on song when she tells me how a 75 kilogram bag of rice would cost only Rs 6 and how a whole family could live comfortably in Rs 20 a month during her school days. But blame it on my narrating skill or the lack of it, I don’t seem to evoke similar feelings in my children when I talk to them about the trams in Madras or how a lighted rod-kind of a thing would rise from the side when the driver of the old cars flicked a switch to show he was taking a turn! Sorry I'm digressing. It's not my intention to bore you with my feelings of nostalgia. I am here mainly to talk to you about the junk side of a family heritage and in particular about all that muck that gets passed on from generation to generation as family legacy. The wooden cradle in which my grand-father slept as an infant, the wooden toys (marappachis) that my grandmother played with, the steel trunks in which my grandmother kept her prayer books, the account books containing the details of wedding expenses of my nine aunts, the huge wooden steps used by my grandmother for "Kolu", hundreds of pictures of Gods which adorned the walls of my ancestral home which included the paintings of Ravi Varma cut out from Lever Bros' calendars and so on. In fact, I am always forced to move into large houses (when about 1000 sq ft would suffice for my small family) just to house all these junk left behind as my family legacy. I never had second thoughts about carrying all these junk till a few years back but now that we have moved into the age of disposables I have started feeling the burden. Talking about disposables, everything is disposable these days. Doctors use disposable gloves, syringes and facemasks. Disposable diapers for children and, of course, elders. Soft drinks and alcoholic beverages in disposable containers. Drinking water in disposable pet bottles that carry a message requesting you to crush them after use. It is just to guard against heritage addicts trying to preserve them for re-use. The range of disposable items in the market today is just mind-boggling. But we, Indians, can be miles ahead in this game. We even have disposable roads, bridges, buildings, anything. For example, most of you know that whenever a political bigwig is scheduled to visit any place, the roads leading to that place are laid afresh so that his ride to that place won’t be as bumpy as his political career. The week after his visit, the road would be back to its original Martian character. It is a disposable road laid up for a specific purpose. We have learnt in our lives that no one is indispensable but now we know that nothing is indisposable, if I may use such an antonym! But there is a school of thought that advocates preservation of the relics of our ancestors as the only way to keep us bound to our family traditions and values. They cite the examples of royal families and public personalities. According to them, too much reliance on disposable things will amount to erasing our footprints as we walk along. Future may have no clue about what we did or how we lived and our progenies may be as different from us as a pygmy from an Eskimo! Don’t you think there is some substance in what they say? On second thoughts, I’ll continue to carry my grandparents’ belongings!