HAPPY EARTH DAY

My dear Grandson

Today is Earth Day. This reminds me of the first time this day was celebrated in Mumbai – way back in 1990. I remember taking your mother and her sister to Hanging Gardens where Mumbai was supposed to participate in a global movement to celebrate this day. We went walking which was quite a lot for your mum’s and aunt’s little feet – they were only 6 and 7 years old then. But they didn’t grumble when they had to walk uphill all the way because I convinced them that they were saving the world for you. Sadly there was no one on top of the hill save an old man with a beard on a rickety old Vespa. He too was disappointed that no one else had turned up but us. He very kindly offered to drop us back home on his scooter but we preferred to walk downhill.

Your mum and aunt loved the walk and they remembered collecting the shiny red seeds that were scattered along the sun dappled road that was quiet and peaceful in the morning. And they remembered forever a lesson that this earth of ours is precious and we should do what we can to preserve it and save it for you and your children and your children’s children.

But we have been saving the earth long before this movement began. In families like ours clothes were passed down from child to child including the nappies which were made of cloth. They were washed and left to dry in the sun – naturally disinfected with the warm sunshine. I remember we children not only handed down clothes but also school text books because we all went to the same school. And we went by school bus with all our other class mates. We also went walking to the park, often on our own because the roads were safe enough for little kids to walk. As for the car, our family had one car which we happily shared with other people sometimes fitting in 8 people in a car meant only for 4! And over the holidays when we had cousins and aunts pouring in, we would roll out mattresses on the floor and manage to squeeze in – sometimes 10 in one bed!  We also managed to share one bathroom among 8 and we never knew what a bath under the shower was because we bathed in half a bucket of water each. No – we were not poor nor did we live in a village. We lived in a lovely apartment in Bombay and our families’ income was much higher than the national median. We had a refrigerator at home, cooking gas but no telephone. Still we managed to keep in touch with everyone that mattered.

My granny would collect the wax paper the bread was wrapped in to pack up my biscuits for school. She would also collect the string that were used to tie up paper parcels and re-use it. She would re-cycle old envelopes and share our magazines, books and comics with our friends and neighbours.

Plastic was something unheard of . We went shopping with cloth bags made from old curtains or homemade rafia bags. We used cloth napkins on the table and the only things we really disposed off was garbage.

Today Earth Day is a big thing – but we have been practicing environmentally friendly practices when the word environment wasn’t even heard of.

Happy Earth Day my grandson!

I hope your earth is greener and cleaner than mine.

Unishta

A granny who always sees the humour in life and tries to do things differently. When others make cupcakes, this granny makes banana fritters. When she’s not busy chasing her grandchildren who love making her run around, she indulges in her passions of reading, writing, meeting friends and watching movies. And somewhere between all this she enjoys travelling and cooking!

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