Monday, August 27, 2007

Disposable Culture

Great poet Rahim was the pioneer of the disposable culture way back in 16th century, when he wrote:

Rahiman dhaga prem ka, mat todo chatkai
Toote se phir na jude, jude gaanth pad jaye

But it took three centuries to find solution to that knot. King Camp Gillette, taking a cue from the crown cork (used in place of lost caps of bottle refills), designed the first disposable - a razor blade. We have come a long way since then. Today almost everything is disposable, from nappy to relationship.

Other day my 7 year old demanded a new pair of shoes. I enquired sheepishly, "Why, What happened? I just bought you a pair last month." He declared that the lace of one of the pair was broken. If I were in his place, I would have simply knotted the broken lace but for him I bought a new one, lace ofcourse.

Endless assembly lines roll out objects of desire day in and day out. The economy of scale and time has made it cheaper to buy a new piece rather than repairing the broken one. While some repairs are certainly beyond the realms of the ordinary consumer, many are incredibly simple, requiring just the replacement of a broken or worn-out part. But it is a time consuming task to find spares and menders, incase you can't handle it yourself.

Mending is a dead art. The Mochi sitting at our colony gate, has a visiting card and calls the spot 'Jug's Shoe Saloon'. He only polishes shoes and does no repair work. However, he does undertake (soul) changes.

Abiding by the use and throw policy, we are producing piles of waste and pollutants. Besides, we are putting a lot of pressure on natural resources. On the positive side, disposable culture has given a push to economy and technology. Energy required for mending broken stuff goes into making new things.

But I like to make things work. For the past five years, I have spent number of weekends repairing my son's old bicycle in order to keep it running. But seems my son has now run out of patience and I'll have to buy him a Firefox soon to make this relationship work.