Sunday, August 29, 2010

The junk that we like…

I own some old dusty diaries – around ten of them, each representing a particular year. They normally contain some hurriedly written phone numbers and host of ‘things to do’ lists - lists that I religiously write each day I wake up, but most times forget to refer to. I must have opened just one of the diaries once in the past two years; and I must confess that I don’t feel like throwing them away.

We all love junk, don’t we? Friend Pankaj Advani loved it so much that he shot the climax of one of his films in a junk yard. And I loved the character who sat on a heap of junk with a stengun in hand – it seemed that he loved his junk. Lilly, a distant relative from Baroda firmly believes that if we don’t use a thing for two years, then it should be disposed off. My second cousin Subbu from Bangalore drastically reduces this time to three months. Wish we had the skill and training to recognize junk as and when it occurs. Most times, we take most of our junk to our graves.

Recently while I was winding up our house in my home town, I found a lot of junk – broken steel spoons, gas stove knobs cut into half, unused plastic ice cream spoons, rusty nuts and bolts, fevicol tubes that refused to open, old switches, scissors of various sizes that wouldn’t rip anything, files pertaining to one Mr. Shankar Gauda, a vague faceless employee of The Life Insurance Corporation of India, a person I did not know of, old greeting cards that had grown ears, photos of gods that were so faded that one did not know which gods the photo frames housed, all sort of dried leaves, twigs, colored powders and stuff that were supposed to have medicinal value, white fungus ridden vintage mango pickles in broken but patched earthen pots...etc..etc…etc...etc… and if you feel like, another etc...

The kabadi wala refused to pay much for the first lot, refused to come for the second and the third. I had to pay someone to get rid of the stuff that filled around eight to ten extra large plastic bags that were probably three times the size of an average cement bag. Wish I had clicked a snap before they were disposed off. But unfortunately during that time, my mobile phone too had temporarily become a piece of junk. And guess what? I was preserving it ferociously, not wanting to buy a new one – because it meant parting with the old!

And then some, I could not figure out if they were junk or of value. The fact that they were preserved meant that they were of value to those who preserved them. Pankaj found great value in the junk yard that he shot the climax of his film. Libraries, museums, the film archives, computer hard disks, drawers, cupboards, shirt pockets, suitcases – they all store junk. They may be of value. It a matter of perception and that perception changes with time. This is the junk philosophy.

Or it thinking the other way round - maybe those who preserve junk do not know that they are preserving junk. Ah... if only we could recognize junk as and when it happens. To recognize other peoples’ junk is easy; throwing them away at times is a bit difficult. Hesitant to dispose off some of the old family junk, I carried them to my present house in Mumbai. As I was making space to store them, I chanced upon my old dusty diaries – my new junk. I have now resolved that I will dispose off at least seven of my ten dairies, if not all of them.

But boy, don’t we all love our junk? And I haven’t even talked about the junk stored in our minds. That is for some other sunny day.

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