Saturday 4 December 2010

Alas! What has plastic done!

While I was growing up, the corner shop was a vital part of our life. Every now and then, while in the process of cooking, my mother would need something and I had to run to buy that item. The best part of those shops, for my mother, was the bits of paper which were used to wrap the items. After emptying the contents, my mother would settle down to read whatever was printed on that bit of wrapping paper. Since many shop-keepers used newspapers, the wrapper would invariably contain parts and if lucky, full articles. If I was standing nearby, she would say: “You know these small bits of paper contain the best of reading material and you should never discard those without reading what is on it.” And she would go on reading whatever she could manage to read.

I was never very particular about that exercise until I suddenly noticed that we no longer had such small bits of stories (as I would like to call it) as wrappers. The papers were replaced by glossy plastic sachets and packets which had fine lettering printed on it. Then, I started missing those bits of paper. Sometimes the bits of paper would be answer sheets of students with the comments of teachers. It used to be quite interesting to stumble upon such items unexpectedly.

It so happens that whenever my mother used to get these wrapped papers, she would end up reading some beauty/cookery tips or some yummy recipes. My mother always would say: “I must remember to write this down.” But she will invariably forget and often times when she is preparing a dish, she would suddenly remember about that bit paper and rummage the house to find it. Little did she know that the paper would have been discarded by some smart member of the family who would see it as another waste material fit to be thrown away. But as history often repeats itself, my mother would get another bit of paper like that and would want to remember to write it down but would forget and the cycle goes on.

Last evening, I wanted to dispose something and so I tore a piece of paper. But that piece of paper had some interesting tid-bits of news and I ended up reading that whole piece of paper. And since the date of that particular paper would be somewhere in the past, it also carried some element of recollection of that particular day. While I was reading that piece of paper, I silently lamented the vanishing away of those corner shops and their paper wrappers. Alas! Plastic has stolen the small pleasure of reading unexpected stories and experience. And this is not the only thing that has been usurped by plastic . . .

Reading bits of paper, anyone? I am sure we all love those treats which come our way . . .

Image courtesy: Internet


  1. well cenrtainly one of the many things plastic has taken from us...though minor perhaps int he damage it can cause in nature..but all the same...

  2. Plastic yes, and patterened wrapping papers have those made gone to the forgetful paper container... So many written words are left behind many pieces unread...

    that's what I feel when people miss pieces which i felt were worth reading-
    Too many writers in this world... and yet I read you and you read me.
    In my mum's childhood time, everything that could burn was put in the fire so as to cook... so no rubbish anywhere.
    We should get back to the old times and be allowed to make bonfires whenever we like, but read the papers before...just in case...
    Too many papers stop in my hands, especially when I decide to get rid of all that material I thought could be reused for classes... I must thank computers for letting me keep words a longer time, and yet lots of rubbish we still keep here and there...

    Thanks for writing
    thanks for being there and being so lovely, my dearest Susan!

  3. You really have good observation and eye for detailing. And I do remember reading news published on paper which use to come wrapped around groceries and stuff like that... I use to eat samosas reading newspaper on which it was served...;)

    Nice post!

  4. Though I didn't experience the written papers you describe, I sure agree with you that plastic has replaced too many valuable things in this world.

    I enjoyed reading this. It gave me a glimpse of what growing up in India must have been like.

    Thanks always for your reflections.

  5. Reflecting meanderer I wish to tell you what I even read sometimes. While sitting on the 'throne' I sometimes will read directions on a toothpaste container or the wrapper on the soap bar. "Read wrapper on the crapper", my new slogan.

    Maybe those advertising people should know that someone does read fruits of their labors.Your sense of humor, I like.

  6. I have also childhood memories of groceries wrapped up in newspapers. I remember the bad part of this - the black colour of the print staining the hands. So, I'm not nostalgic about it.

    As for plastic bags - we pay for it, their price is included in the total price of the item we buy. So, plastic makes the item more expensive and it's not friendly to the environment either.

    By the way, I like the new slogan of the previous commenter, Carlo.

  7. I loved those little stores. Well, I love them now in recollection. I remember going there to get two potatoes, 3 eggs, a couple of onions, etc. I also remember them adding up the groceries on the same bag or paper they were putting the groceries in. How we used our minds back then!

  8. with as much cry about plastic being hard for the environment, I'm surprised at how much is still around. Packaging (mostly plastic) has got to be our pet peeve when it comes to Christmas.

    I don't recall the shops that wrap things in news paper but I do remember paper bags for groceries.

    thanks for you post
    Have a wonderful day!

  9. What a great post! I do not think I have ever experienced anything being sold wrapped in pieces of printed paper like that.;))
    What this reminds me of though is the time when I got back my boxes, from my very first apartment, that were stored at my parents attic the whole time I lived in the US. As I unwrapped all the china and delicate ornaments from the old newspaper, I could not help but start reading the old pieces of news.;))
    I hope you had a nice weekend dear Susan,

  10. hehe, yeah I do it all the time... get caught up with a scrap of paper the groceries come in. I remember the random exam papers too, those were kinda funny. I remember wondering whether anybody was reading my answer sheet too somewhere... we still receive scraps of paper from the local store down the lane.

  11. We still get the peanuts wrapped in paper from roadside vendors...for me the first thing i would look is pics of actress

  12. Brian:

    But all the same, yes!


    What lovely words here, dear Dulce. I must thank you back for being there and always lighting up my thoughts and posts.

    Big Hugs always :)

  13. Karan:

    Long long time. Happy to see you :) Many Indians have this trait, I suppose.


    A slice of our living and growing, yes.

  14. Carlo:

    Thanks for coming by and welcome to my place. Glad to have you :)I like the way you said "reflecting meanderer." Thanks for your very kind words. Hoping to see more of you, here.


    Hmmm. The staining we also experience when it rains or when our palms are sweaty. Carlo, nice slogan!

  15. Myriam:

    Lovely to know that our stories criss-cross. How many connections like this we have around us. This thought brings a smile to my face :)


    Christmas is the bane of any ecologically conscious individual. I wish you a lovely remainder of the week, dear Hope.

  16. Zuzana:

    Old piece of news is always juicy and a treat worth spending time on. The weekend and week are swimming dear dear Zuzana.


    Many connections between us, you see. I really wish no one read my scripts from school!!

  17. John:

    Ah! I thought as much. Even I do that :)

  18. You've reminded me of my grandmother, who would send my cousins and me to the store to pick up little items for her, and we would come back with the purchases wrapped up in little recycled bits of paper... usually the exams of students from previous years in school. How tender and lovely those memories are! And yes, I fear those wrappings are rapidly disappearing. A little plastic bag is the "modern" way of wrapping purchases, nowadays.

    How lovely those old times were!

    For me, this was quite the nostalgic read. Thank you, dear Susan.


  19. A habit I still have.
    Some shops do still give out things wrapped in newspapers. When I am free I smoothen out the wrinkles and try to take in as much as possible from those papers. One more thing is not to throw away the thread that is used to wrap these things. Can't say when it comes in handy.

  20. Nevine:

    We still get things like that in a few places. The practice has not vanished completely. Those newspapers have the choicest of news items and it is fun to read those bits.

    Warm hugs to you dearest Nevine :)


    You are like my mother who keeps all those threads! My mum even keeps old bits of clothing for she thinks we can never get old bits to wipe and clean things.

  21. One more harm that plastic has done
    taking away from our life the fun
    of reading about happenings that have long gone
    especially the exam papers and the stories the children spun.

    Susan, I had written about my mother's uncle and his 'reading habits' that you might want to check out @

  22. hmm.....
    Dear Susan, plastic, being a non-degradable waste, harms our nature and has been banned in many of the states, Delhi being one of them. Though a few places still use plastic, most have started with papers. I personally keep a bag of some cloth.

    And yes dear Susan, I too enjoy reading those folded bits of paper whnever I get a chance.

    Happy writing,

  23. Govind:

    Where are you these days? I will look into your post tomorrow. I guess we nearly belong to the same scenario that existed in India and still does in some places.


    So many points of connection. Isn't it nice? Hope you are well inside as well as outside.

    Joy always :)



Related Posts with Thumbnails