I have been shopping a lot of late. For myriad things. First, I needed some things for the house itself. Bulbs. Kitchen drain traps. Curtains. Foot rugs. Toothbrush holders. Soap dispensers. Stuff like that. I have detailed lists of course, in my black book (well, its a book I have been taking notes in to keep me sane over the past couple of months of flux, and it happens to be black, and its not as if I was going to fill in hunky boys names and phone numbers there in a hurry, so...). Then, I got myself a couple of cool things to wear since its not possible to do my usual pants and shirts routine here. I had uniforms and shoes and socks for the monster. We also bought some bedsheets and books and CDs for several (not very important) reasons. After those things started the grocery items. Which I still need and still go shopping for at least two times a week (aside from vegetables). So, in all, at least by my standards, I have shopped a lot in Chennai.
In most instances, being Bag Lady, I have had my own bag(s) - yes even at the Disney store in NYC. There are still a few plastic bags that got accumulated in the house because of store policies (they have to seal your stuff into the bag and stamp it and so on and so forth), or miscalculations (I thought I would buy a bag worth and ended up with two). I am still sorting out the situation with respect to vegetables. I am yet to find a satisfactory vegetable market to go to. I have deep rooted cribs about vegetables still. But thats for later.
I had no notions about people's attitude towards earth destroying habits, in general, I have the attitude that I will do my best and mention it to you in passing, and if you do a few good things yourself, great, if not I don't have comments on it. Its your life, and no, I don't get all riled up that YOU are destroying MY earth. Everyone knows I do enough destroying myself. And not just by breathing. I use air conditioners. I seem to have piles of clothes to wash everyday (and I always choose hygiene in that case over saving the earth). I definitely use plastic items. My idea of recycling newspapers is to give it to my maid to do what she will with it (and not to sit around making bags out of it). I definitely own a lot more things than I need for a comfortable life. I recently bought a leather handbag.
Nevertheless, I get damn depressed over how life has progressed, here, in our little overcrowded swelling hot country. It was hardly twenty years ago that everyone carried bags for vegetable shopping without forgetting. Literally two decades ago that my grandmother stitched cloth bags from every living piece of cloth in the house (old curtains, cushion covers, saris, dresses, everything was fair game for her). My mom carried her entire set of files, a tape-recorder, bottle of water, and walked all over the city, a pink bag with long handles that grandmom had stitched, and this was mom doing the field work for her Phd. We had a bag for our music class. As a child, I hated those bags that I covet now. I am depressed about my childhood attitude and thinking of all my grandmom's bags out there that I don't have with me. I get depressed when I go the supermarket and a person buys a little piece of paneer wrapped and hermetically sealed in plastic and then the store woman puts that in a thin plastic bag with the supermarket's logo emblazoned on it. I get depressed when I go to small local shops and the guy whips out an ugly white bag to weigh the rice into and then an uglier blue plastic bag to put the white rice bag into.
But most of all, I could have cried on Sunday night. I went to an old old lady with hanging ear lobes who was slowly making a garland of jasmines. I asked her the price. She said 5 per. I paid her 10 and she gave me two pieces. She whipped out a nasty yellow plastic bag. I said no thanks. Don't you have the leaf. Everyone remembers the leaf, right? The dried leaf in which you would wrap flowers and tie it with string. Well, guess what, the lady was SO scornful of me for asking. Curled her lip at me, thats what she did.
Yeah, thats progress. Its not the actual wanton use of plastic, but the attitude that, not only is it okay, it IS the only way.
(And today, after repeated cribs by child that the boys are playing football with the nice yellow cloth bag I send her as a lunch bag, I have succumbed and bought her the ugly plastic thing the rest of the kids carry. So take that, Mother Earth, Die Now).