Thursday, April 14, 2011


It is an unassuming black net bag, the kind we call 'tholee' in Bengali. That's the bag you carry to the local vegetable (and/or fish) market.

It's weightless, although it can carry enormous amounts of weight. Kilos of apples, bhindis, cauliflower, beets, gourds, pumpkins, cabbages, dozens of bananas, bunches of palak, methi and kothmir, quantities of fish and fowl, have all nestled in happy weekly harmony in the confines of the bag, with a not-so-happy effect on my shoulder and wrist.

It's rather tatty and holey - precisely because of the above-mentioned weekly habit for working with heavy-weights.

It's got a heavy drinking habit, too - my husband often uses it for bringing home dozens of cans of Budweiser or bottles of Tuborg get the drift?

It's recycled - in fact, it has been recycled ad infinitum, in all kinds of environments. It is as comfortable in grubby street-side markets as it is in air-conditioned restaurants where you have to pay through your nose. Because we always take it out of my much-more-expensive shoulder-bag if we have take any leftovers home.

It owes it's arrival in our household to an environmental crisis - after the humongous and horrendous rains of July, 2005, when drains blocked with plastic bags contributed greatly to the tragedy that ensued and prompted the Government to declare a ban on use of paper-thin plastic bags (isn't that contradictory?). I went to Big Bazaar and bought this net bag for Rs. 65/-

The ban was soon flouted, but the bag has stayed with us, loyal for nearly six years.

Until two weeks back. It had been carelessly pushed into my shoulder-bag (which is its usual resting place until it is called out for action). And it fell out while the spouse and I were on the way to, where else, the vegetable market. Its disappearance caused us a lot of grief and regret.

And then, like a miracle, it came back. My maid called me at work to say that another maid had found it hanging on a hook above the security-guard's desk in another wing of the building. It had apparently been lying there, unclaimed and unloved for a fortnight. I returned home with a happy spring in my step, the cheerfulness bubbling over in my voice when I called up the spuse with the good news.

And the very next day, my faithful bag-that-came-back was back in action.

For some reason, a tatty old 65-rupee bag has taught me a lesson in values beyond money.