I read about this campaign in my local newspaper. Essentially the Women’s Institute has come up with this brain child. It involves reducing waste and reusing leftovers by planning meals. The results are supposed to be saving money and boosting health. It is offered as an ultimate solution to Childhood Obesity and the Economic Recession. The participants have even reported reduction in their own waistlines.
I read the article and started to feel very amused. The reason? My paternal grandmother could have told them this without any fanfare. My Aji Aai (That’s what I called her) was the ultimate saver. She would not let one bit of food go waste. She recycling was so efficient. That did not mean that she compromised on taste. Oh no. She was one of those special few who are gifted with the “Hand”.
That’s how one would translate it directly from Hindi. Just doesn’t sound the same in English though. Anyway what it means is that no matter what she made or even if she experimented for the very first time, the food was always delicious. She was always voted the “bestest” cook in the family. With a brood of six kids and her other in-laws to provide for on a government salary she was often pressed for funds, but never for love.
So how would she react to this news? Well with studied indulgence. She would probably tell me something I like “we have known it all along, these people are learning it now.” Which is true not just in terms of this campaign but a lot of other things to do with recycling.
I remember a contest which was launched to find the most miserly person in the world. As usual the Americans were the only people who took part in it and the person who won was selected on the basis of the fact that he even kept the tiny bits of used soap after it broke up and collected them to reuse. Does that remind you of someone you know? I am willing to bet that every single Indian reading this knows at least one person who does that. It is not considered miserly at all, it is considered to be making full use of the soap.
So ma’am Ruth Bond, I am sure the success of your campaign pleases you, but pardon me for not sharing your naïve enthusiasm. If you truly want to check wastage and not pollute the environment by living healthy, you might want to come down to India and take a few pointers from our grand mamas. Yes the younger generation will not be able to help you much, you see they too live just like you do.