Urban living and conspicuous consumption, has larger than life effects. With those round figures in the bank and thin plastic in the pocket, power abounds like never before. It didn’t require a Newton to say ‘Every action has an equal and opposite reaction’, but guess what, he said it, and God bless his soul.

Yes, our kind of living with those crazy malls the size of airports and airports the size of cities and citie encroaching mountains, oceans and whatever else, reactions are a natural consequence.

Of the several, the ones that are closest to you, those that you cant miss seeing are these : The pot belly is as standard as standard can get, supermarket require trolleys to cart the goods that are bought and while there is some discussion that can be entertained about possibility of life on Mars, there can be no discussion about the lack of possibility of life without a mobile phone !

Such is modern day urban life. No ?

If you think this is a blogpost on the ever changing social milieu of modern day society, well there cant be a farther distance between fact and fiction. Regular readers know that this blogs draws its boundry along the lines of the inane. For instance, this post is about the Trashcan!

Was that a facepalm !?! Oops. Sorry eh !

Are you still reading ? Ok…well, you were warned.

An oversized yet overflowing Trashcan is a constant remnant in any neighbourhoods in Mumbai. And rightly so. With kind of bubble wraps, packs, cardboards, plastic and God knows what else that every day life is filled with ! Days ago, a kind soul thought it fit to gift a microwave oven all the way from the US. It came with an instruction ‘please remove package and instruction sheet before cooking’.

Upon immediate and hurried cross checking, it was made known that it was a general instruction and not specifically written out based on an assessment of a customer’s perceived intelligence. Which greatly soothed distraughtly ruffled feathers. That instruction sheet, along with the package was promptly disposed to the Trashcan.

To cut a long story short ( as is usually said by a loud mouth after sharing a rather long winded story), the world generates enough and more of waste.

The city itself seems to be just short of announcing a grand festival of litter in the neighbourhood, everyday. Citizens decorating streets with empty packets of chips, short eats, trinkets and such else , adding to the colour and variety is a standard way of proud being.

And therefore, enticing people to submit their trash in cans, surely has become an activity of great creative intelligence. Amongst the many ways to this, here are a few that are commonly sighted and carefully presented.

At the first go, there are Trashcans that resemble cartoon characters. Mickey Mouse. Donald Duck. Goofy. And the variety. They perhaps are targeted at children or someone with a funny bone that protrudes. Or fairly pronounced, at the least.

For instance, what could be the chances of the sophisticated svelte socialite running to drop her used tissue in this trashcan just because it is in the shape of a colourful Mickey Mouse imploring her to do so, with a ‘use me’ scrawled all over… Or perhaps, maybe. With people and their modern day preferences, well, who knows.

The other variety are the ‘animal replica’ trashcans. Big gorillas, monkeys, penguins and such else, with various parts of their body sporting a gaping hole, designed to excite the passerby to desist from aiming the just-now-empty Coke bottle at the middle of the road, by providing a very credible and inviting alternative.

Often times, they get stuffed with a vengeance of sorts and the way things are going, it doesn’t look like its going to be long before the SPCA is going to take notice.

Leading the ‘Heaviest Trash Creator’ chart are items of prayer, once the prayers are on the way to the favourite God, puja paraphernalia stays on earthly realms. To expect such a sacred item to be tossed into Mickey Mouse or a Gorilla sporting a gaping hole in his mouth, imploring ‘use me’..well conjures an ineffable picture in the mind. Lets leave it at that.

So, ladies and gentlemen, right here in Powai, we have an ingenious solution that some noble soul has thought of.

Trashcans that take the shape of a kalash. A Kalash ? (For overseas readers, the Kalash is an object of sacred devotion, often used in prayer, and usually adorns the tall gopurams in temples). So there, if you are the puja & pilgrim type, ofcourse, theres a trashcan for you !

(Well, let not the surprise catch you midway through whatever you are doing, the next time you spot a ‘Parliament building’ shaped urinal to excitedly herd all those who prefer to free up their bladders in open spaces. They could think of that, you know).

On another note, here is a postulate. “The surroundings of a trashcan invite as much trash. If not more. They invite more trash if the trashcan seems to be of the protected variety.” That’ Axleys postulate from the dummies guide to rule making on trashcans. Ofcourse, that was made up. But here is evidence.

Trashcans with protection, is something indeed. Ofcourse, as far as trash disposal is concerned, the citizenry of this place knows to encroach. ‘In the trashcans or thereabouts’, is good enough for trash disposal !

There is another genre, people. Trashcans with a name. No kidding. There is one that was present until very recently nearby, with ‘OCTAVIUS’ written on its chest. I mean, come on ! Octavius! The chap was an emperor for godsake. A man that Shakespeare wrote about. A chap that straddled between BC and AD ! Adorning a trashcan!?!

Perhaps to excite the Shakespeare / history types ! Perhaps. Ah ! Times !

Paper Power !!

As a society, we are master innovators. And we can teach a thing or two to the world about recycling. Newspapers used as a a duster, impromptu seat cover, bed sheet etc is common place.

This gent has the newspaper folded in to his back pocket. Please desist from interpreting it as some kind of symbolic placement making a statement on the quality of current day journalism : By placing it in the rear !

No. No. Our newspapers kick ass.

Really ! Just try reading one. Any one !

This gent is all set to unfold his newspaper as soon as he gets to a bus station, lay it out on dusty seat in the bus shelter and sit down. And because his rear isn’t going to take a whole lot of paper, he can exercise choice to continue reading other sections of the newspaper which are not obscured by his rear.

Like global parliamentary proceedings. And going by what transpires in the parliaments of the world, increase his ‘general’ vocabulary and better understand techniques of martial arts!

Actually, the list around innovations with newspapers is endless. I invite you, dear reader, to share your experiences as well !! Well, tissue paper shortages are well chronicled. So lets not go there.

Kavi’s Musings had commissioned a research on ‘top of the mind supplementary use of the newspapers’. This was an in-person impromptu research conducted on very heavy recyclers. And here are the results.

Top areas of newspaper recycle are :

a. ‘Garbage Collection tray’ lining

b. Wrapping of take aways in restaurants & making of paper plates

c. Making a statement to the neighbours on recycling ( Goes well with a Greenpeace T-shirt)

d. Making a statement to the neighbours & colleagues ( Carrying Business newspapers in your hand. And bringing them back home. Without reading)

f. Floor mat on trains when you travel long distance without a confirmed ticket

g. To be put to use on / by children for a multiple set of uses. ( Art from Waste,Sketching, Erasing, Tearing up to kill boredom etc )

h. To be used as a fly swatter on flies & other pests. Used for the same purpose on irritating, irresponsible, ‘Humvee’ riding husbands !

The survey respondents were told that the results to this survey was to be kept completely confidential. Any resemblance to any person, real, digital, living or dead is purely, well, almost co-incidental !

So, go ahead. Please feel free to share. What else can people do with their newspaper !?!

Yes Our Can !

Visiting a family that i often visit, i have to use the toilet a.k.a washroom in ‘developed’ circles. Marveling at the body’s engineering processes, which somehow sense proximity of clean toilets, to alert the urges, i enter !
It was a super clean and neat place. It continues to be so. To this day ! And there, just as i am using the pot, in a corner is this green can. ‘Castrol’ it says ! (You know Castrol dont you?) And of course, it is filled to the brim with water and apparently, part of mainstream usage !

Surely, Castrol didn’t pay this family for strategic brand placement in the washroom! It is just another can that was being put to the best of reuse and recycle ! Millions in India do this.

Every rural morning sun sees people walking the fields with cans that say ‘Castrol’ or “Servo’ or ‘Asian Paints’ *** etc ! They held lubricants, oil, paint when they moved out of the factory. But in their recycled avatar, they are usually filled with water. And comes in handy for porting water…you know…for all what water comes in handy for.

Sometimes they help in porting garbage. Cleaning Autorickshaws. At other times they are cow feed carriers. At yet others for brewing illicit hooch!! And of course, they are used by the Public Works Department in perennial road building activities as well !

And why not….

I presume these cans are made to the strictest Seven Sigma quality ( Six Sigma standards + one sigma extra for all the noise made about Six Sigma ). Made by the best of engineering minds, out of the best material possible and sport colour combinations chosen by brand consultants ! And of course, come to production only after exacting quality checks !

I turn to the green Castrol can in the corner. This time around, i look at it with higher respect. And i wonder, how my reactions would change, if i worked for Castrol. Would i run my finger affectionately on the can, and say, with a Obama like thud, ‘Yes ! Our Can‘ !?!

I finish up what i came into the toilet for. And then, i cast one last respectful glance at the green Castrol can and with imagination running riot about a mob of Castrol users shouting ‘Yes Our Can’, i look at it a little more intently.

I spot a sticker on it that reads : ‘Its more than oil. Its liquid engineering’ !

It all comes together ! A light bulb glows somewhere. Suddenly, brand placement seems appropriate ! Pot on !

(*** Castrol, Servo and Asian Paints are common examples going by my mind share and corresponding assumptions of visibility in toilets / washrooms. They are not quoted here out of personal association / spite / liking etc. Ok !?! )