Jholas, Jute sacks and the clean Mohallas of Lower Bazaar in Simla of the Sixties
Sadhu, a very soft spoken man, thin and lean with white headgear, a pagri on his head, would come to our mohalla in the early morning. With a broomstick and a tokri he would collect the waste from small old iron buckets used as dustbins.
Though there never used to be much waste… vegetable would be brought in a big cloth jhola, cereals and spices in paper bags put systematically in another sturdy jhola, and rice and floor in jute Boris. The big leftover pieces from the cloth used for making dresses would be usd to make these Jholas. They were of different sizes and shapes as per the cloth available for making them. The plain big ones would be carried by the men while women made theirs of colourful flowery prints or even putting crochet laces around and wooden handles to give a fashionable look.
The big Jholas were neatly hung on iron pegs while the delicate ones lovingly folded and kept in a corner. Bag making by women, during their free time, was a passionate hobby. I remember Amma weaving delicate bags from plastic threads, putting artificial beads in between. Perhaps that was the only plastic bag we had in our home vying for space amongst more homely stitched Jholas.
Boris, the jute bags, had their own life journeys. Some would be neatly folded till next excursion to the Gunj market to bring floor and rice. These would remain in active circulation till they became unusable and transformed into mopping cloth or Pocha as we called it.
The cereals would be put in babyfood tin containers or the empty Dalda containers and the leftover empty paper bags would be opened up by me and would be devoured word by word…. later these would be used to light up Angithee.
Where was the scope for producing any waste? As for as the leftovers in the kitchen were concerned, there were not many. As there was no fridge….we thought that refrigerators are used in the Soda water shops only to store Coca-Cola bottles. The big refrigerator, displayed proudly at the Thunia Mull Ghoonger Mull shop, called “Storan wali dukaan” in common parlance, was the only one in close proximity of the entire mohalla. If you don’t have fridge, you don’t store leftovers to throw after two-three days, so waste management becomes much simple. Amma and all other women in the neighbourhood would cook only as much as was required. Nothing was to be thrown. Throwing away of eatables was a sin.
Amma would make chapatis and put them in a dubba …two for the jsmadarni and two for the “gaiwala” …and some for us when we come back from school. No wasting of chapatis…if obe ir two were left they would be thrown at the monkeys who were ever waiting for them.
Daal and vegetables, too, would not be, ever wasted. A katori or two would be circulated in some households if something special was cooked. No wasting, whatsoever.
Our old clothes went inside the khinds and khandolus that no one in the mohalla was ashamed of making. The Himachal Binding press wala uncle ji wanted our blue checked school uniform shirts which he would neatly put in the corners of big ledgers that he would bind.
Some poor sturdy jute sacks would act as doormats whereas their lucky bretherns would be used as sit-onl. Some nice piece of jute bag with cleaning weaving would come our way to embroider it in cross stitch pattern using tit-bits of leftover woollen threads. How happy we would be counting the holes in the jute cloth and putting the needle therein weaving the patterns.
Our fine motor skills owe a lot to untangling the woollen threads, needling them and putting the thread in holes at equally numbered distance. What an excusite way of sharpening our concentration. And in the process, nothing went waste.
So when our neighborhood Jamadaar Sadhu would come to collect such waste. ..there would be little as humble society of Lower Bazaar in Simla of Sixties used, reused, cycled and recycled everything that could be put to any purpose, leaving very less to discard as waste to go to Jamadaar’s Tokri.
Mercifully plastic containers were something outlandish for humble society of Simla of the Sixties and we lived in a clean and “Swatchh” Simla without making much efforts because of our simple lifestyle governed by simple practices