Travelling for work is often somewhat monotonous, no matter where you go. In part, it's because you are typically locked up in a room till late hours and then you crash in your hotel room. There are disappointingly few hours left to see the place. Yet, despite being entrapped in pastel, commercial monotony, the flavours of different cities seep in from under the doors.
I realised I was in the United States at its most absurd time when I read the Washington Post a few days back. Two reports caught my attention. One made me crack up, the other was sad.
The hilarious report, with photographs, was about the apparently new trend of drying your clothes in fresh air and sun instead of energy intensive clothes dryers. The context, in part, was about rising energy prices and global warming — the latter phenomenon allowed you more sun and less electricity.
The writer had experimented and realised drying clothes naturally was a pretty good system. Of course, problems were encountered: the neighbours minded. Who would want to be stuck next to someone else’s clothesline and have to see their washed clothes? So the writer did away with a clothesline, bought a clothes rack and hung extra clothes discreetly.
What ticked me was not a contrasting lifestyle but the sense of adventure in it all. Actually, the report should compel us to think about how lucky we are that so much of our lives are still lived so close to the earth, intrinsically linked to the environment, despite the pressures to ‘modernize’. Just for that, we should see the dhobi not only as an essential service provider, but an energy saver too!
Eat less, waste more
Much more grim was another report. The story announced that diving into trash for food is becoming more and more popular in the USA, but also people seem to want to discourage it. The term used for this specific kind of person is freegan — free and vegan combined — the ultimate non-impinger on resources. Why waste something good it you can use it, they ask, most logically? People find it upsetting and claim they may eat bad food, are trespassing if the dumpster is placed as such or just think it spoils the image.
The report also says it's a form of protest, to do something unlikely and unpalatable. Seeing people in a dumpster is probably a scary sight for most Americans, never mind if they are only feeding themselves. How strange — when we see someone eating from a bin, we feel bad as a society. And the Americans feel annoyed with the person.
(If you feel for planet earth, write to earthwatch1@ yahoo.co.in)