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Nothing is indisposable!

Discussion in 'Cheeniya's Senile Ramblings' started by Cheeniya, Dec 22, 2007.

  1. Cheeniya

    Cheeniya Super Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    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-com:eek:ffice:smarttags" /><st1:City><st1:place>Chennai</st1:place></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!
     
    sindmani, swathi27, iyerviji and 7 others like this.
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  2. radhavenkatesh

    radhavenkatesh Bronze IL'ite

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    Disposing is the present day culture and whn we refer to fenshui they say negative energy stays around things which are not used or moved and dust or dirt shdnt be around things or articles which are better disposed off BUT the memories which the age old wall clock which dosent work and its pendulum is at stand still or the tiny watch which was gifted for passing in matriculation have their own value which can be felt by only those who have a tuning towards attachments by virtue of god we indians still have little attachments and dont dispose off so fast :)
     
  3. Sriniketan

    Sriniketan IL Hall of Fame

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    Sir,
    Disposable----is unheard of in our country, till recently. Can I say it as a 'western culture' we are following nowadays, as like other things?

    If our ancestors thought of 'disposable' things then we wouldn't have got the richest scriptures and other philosophical. religious, etc things which we and the world admire, even today.

    i too have the letters of my grandpa, my uncle, who are no more. Looking at those letters i really cherish those moments, i spent with them.

    sriniketan
     
  4. Cheeniya

    Cheeniya Super Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Radha
    I have also heard of that Fengshui concept but I think that the positive energy transmitted by heritage things is far greater than the negative energy. I agree with the dust or dirt part of it. We tend to feel that heritage things must be covered with a lot of dust and if they are cleaned, their value is lost!
    This is because of our confusion between heritage value and antique value!
    Sri
     
  5. Cheeniya

    Cheeniya Super Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Sri
    I too agree that it is predominantly the western influence. Countries which strongly believe in disposable things can never develop a heritage of their own. If they are potted plants, we are like the Banyan Tree of Adyar!
    Sri
     
  6. Chitvish

    Chitvish Moderator IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Sri,
    I cannot help becoming nostalgic on reading
    how a 75 kilogram bag of rice would cost only Rs 6
    Vish was earning Rs 350 pm when I got married & there was no dearth for money ever with that "princely sum"!

    I belong to your school of thought that we love to preserve with pleasure some things which can be classified as belonging to the junk side of the family heritage.My grandfather's letter to me about how important it is to compromise and have smooth sailing with in-laws in the initial years of our married life, still means a lot to
    me.The first set of "samaithu par" books, autographed and presented to me by Mennakshi Ammal, the author, means a lot to me.
    Vish has a bundle of scriptural collection of books "religiously" (pun intended) preserved for the past 50+years and preciously "guarded" by him - I am not allowed to even touch them.
    However much we appreciate M F Hussain and the kind, the pictures by Ravi Varma are special for us.
    We still love houses with vasal thinnai, eduthu kattu, "kamara uLLu", mitram etc - this generation will wonder what those words mean!
    But, can't help saying that, at times, I feel, you and I belong to a "sandwich generation" ! Our love for tradition is strongly rooted, much as we adjust to modern living. If at all, we have to part with some antiques, it is only due to space constraint. We are also aware, what we preserve so lovingly is going to be thrown off as garbage by our own children.
    Old is gold for you and me, but our children prefer to go in for platinum!
    I loved your sentence
    If they are potted plants, we are like the Banyan Tree of Adyar!
    Very true !
    Love,
    Chithra.
     
    sindmani likes this.
  7. Vidya24

    Vidya24 Gold IL'ite

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    Dear Cheeniya,

    It is not easy to write a FB to your posts. Well, one could read and key in an oh,la,la reply, but then that would not do you any justice. So, here is conceding round one to you!

    Is it because the year is ebbing or is it because it is time to ring in the old and ring in the new or is it because the kitchen-sink attitude is raging in economic circle? Atoning my Sins and Nothing is Indisposable- both seem to have a sense of mental and moral evaluation going as the main theme. Is good too, we all need introspection and an approaching new year is the best season.

    My paternal grandmother never allowed us to forget that her father was Sir Diwan of Travancore and donated their 'palace' to the Corporation of Trivandrum. We heard it so often, in mellow memory, in loud boastfulness- that we became immune to it. Though when I went to pay the Corporation tax this vacation, I could not help reminscing that a noble ancestor must have walked those corridors at one time.

    My father inherited all the family junk/heritage. Massive 9 step kolu padis, Banrutti dolls, easy chairs, meat shelf-, roll-top, Baby Brownie Cameras- the names are all so interesting. A family vastu expert told me that certain mile-stones were blocked in my life since these heirlooms were lying unused, unseen for decades. This vacation, I ransacked our attics. It was such a treasure trove of things and memories. We have preserved our junk lovingly like prize maavadu. From the tram ticket that my thatha used in London in 1935, to the kaapi kottai colour pattu pudavai worn by my gran, to the Rupees 16 nayapaise 45 bill for an iron gate purchased by my periappa- we would be an accountants or a bargain hunters delight. I had no qualms throwing away almost all the junk which included my tricycle and a test paper in Moral Science in which I stood first in 1978. But what saddened me, was while I was throwing away all this, there seemed to be people who wanted and valued it. That made me sad and guilty.

    In these times of globalisation, many things have lost relevance. Heritage and memories seem to be the worst casualities . But as you say, in throwing away all this, did I deprive the future generation of heritage,values, memories? To an extent, yes. But to a large extent,no. When I gave away my father's cricket bat, I thought for a week. But I finally decided to part with it. Atleast, I knew my father, I knew how he loved his bat. My child who would never know his grandfather would not have any attachment or fondeness attached to that bat. And would probably throw it away in the garbage. Atleast, I found a young lad willing to swing that archaic bat for a few days. We submit our idols to the elements of the universe after a season, so there is no harm in doing the same to memories and memorablia. It is all in the heart, after all. And in some albums---

    Look! You got a cynical grouch like me all mushy---


    regards
    Vidya
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2007
    1 person likes this.
  8. Shanvy

    Shanvy IL Hall of Fame

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    hi sri,

    I remember hearing from my grandmom, that their marriage cost them just Rs.10...gold was 2rs for sovereign, i think. And even when i was a kid, our provisions used to come at Rs.30/40.

    And i and veda still love the thinnai, the vaasal, the mitram, all allocated to their places...without any consultation with a vaastu consultant...
    and would love to have a place like that.....

    Sri, nothing is indisposable..agreed. we would like to keep everything..but with the space available shrinking, it is a luxury to lot of us to accomodate lot of things.. we are keeping an old murphy radio, of my fil.

    I have a copy of soundarylahari, i think it was the first edition come to me, from mil, and to her from her father. I use the same vengala sombu, that my mil did her varalakshmi nombu 45 years back..and would love to give it to my dil (ofcourse if she would want to take it..)..though i can afford to buy a silver one...i keep that as it has the blessings, the poojas everything.
    I have picked a mukkappu...of my FIL which was lying in a box..and used it for my son...and i still am cherishing it.....


    Old is gold, and old gold is more valuable than the present gold..ho..as V24 says, it is a very nostalgic drive down memory lane..

    One thing i do for my kids and generation to come..take pictures of these things..and keep them tagged..and in CD's for reference.
     
  9. Vysan

    Vysan Gold IL'ite

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    Dear Sri,

    Nothing is indisposable.... Great topic and very nicely written... I always believe in keeping and saving things... But slowly it is becoming a difficult task to maintain... Fortunately, my father has not inherited a huge quantum of goods/articles... But we have a huge collection of photos of our family members.... Some of them I have not even met in my life.... We relish and enjoy going through that....

    With todays space constraint and cost.... It is becoming difficult to store and keep things... We have no other choice than to dispose off .... Though we would love to keep some of the things which are priceless...
     
  10. Cheeniya

    Cheeniya Super Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Chithra
    I am glad to know that you are another junk lover like me. We may call ourselves 'junkies' and form a special group. Old is gold for the old! Wine is about the only thing today where vintage is appreciated.
    Even pictures of Gods are undergoing change these days. The images of Ganesa vary from that as a cricketeer to an astronaut! Even in the Traditional Bengal, Durga's images are cast in the most modern outfits. We used to have a family piture of Lord Siva complete with Nandi in front, two Kids on His lap and Parvathi to His left. That picture showed Siva with a Stalin like moustache! That reminds me of an episode involving the redoubtable Justice A.S.P.Aiyyar who was very famous for his wit and humour.He was once addressed a question by a young student about the hair style of Siva. Justice Aiyyar replied that Siva had long flowing hair till about a 1000 years back and later switched over to a tuft(kudumi) a couple of hundred years back. He concluded by saying that now He had a crew cut which was quite popular in the 50's. This answer satisfied the youngster a lot! Going by Justice Aiyyar's reasoning,the Lord possibly now sports a Mohawk or mullet!
    I also want to tell you that when everything seems to be going against us and even the TV channels keep showing unheard of movies, I find that rummaging through the family junk is a very good timepass!
    I totally agree with you when you say,'We are also aware, what we preserve so lovingly is going to be thrown off as garbage by our own children.' And considering how we preserve ourselves so lovingly, I cant agree with you more!
    Sri
     

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