Recycled wisdom

When I was growing up, every Sunday, at 8.30 a.m., either my elder sister or I had to accompany our Dad to the vegetable market.

We usually took turns. The trips to the market had a fixed beat. We would set out with two big wire bags. These bags, one a bottle green, and the other a navy blue with pink, were so big that one could fit the entire market in them.


        Courtesy –

First, we went to the coconut seller, then to the lemon shop, and then to the bakery, then to the English vegetable market and then to the local vegetable market.

These same bags were used to carry our school books from the bookshop at the beginning of every academic year.

In addition to these two behemoths, we had two smaller ones, one red and white, and the other white and red. These two served as our school lunch bags.  My sister and I carried our steel lunch carriers and water bottles, and a fruit, in these bags.


          Courtesy –

These bags were designed for rough use, and for wear and tear.  They lasted  from Grade 5 through high school.

The speciality of these wire bags was that all of them were hand-made by our mom. My mom bought plastic-wire bundles of different colours. After finishing her numerous chores, she would sit down in the afternoon, to weave these beautiful wire bags. When any of these bags had to be replaced, she would start working on a new one.


             Courtesy –

There were other smaller ones – one for the milkman, and one that my grandma used to carry to the temple everyday. 

These bags made trips to the hospital when my aunt gave birth, witnessed our family picnics, brought back crisp, ironed clothes from the laundry and carried lots of things over many, many years. They witnessed our growing up years, mute spectators to blossoming friendships, school graduation, sibling quarrels and lots more.

I remember how we eagerly waited for a new bag to take shape. At some point, all of us learnt how to create those rows of flowers using wire.

There were no plastic covers or bags then. So, these bags went with us everywhere. Little did we realize that we were reusing and doing our bit for the environment.

When I see the number of plastic bags we use these days, I realize the value of what we had. Maybe I should get my mother to teach me how to make one.

Actually,  when I look at them now, they look quite cool and trendy!


53 thoughts on “Recycled wisdom”

  1. I remember using these bags… someone made it for mom… We had simpler lifestyles then and were more environmentally conscious. I try to avoid plastic bags by carrying a cloth bag to the market nowadays, but invariably end up with a few.

    The post made me thinking and of course the nostalgia. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Lol… yes! Chettiyars carried them all over… with huge amounts of cash and it was so simple that no one could guess its contents. πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I was just thinking last week about writing a post on this.. And here it is.. πŸ˜€ I could not have done justice to the way you write it.. πŸ™‚

    The reason I was thinking was, this was my hobby in one of the summer holidays, and I had actually made four of them and they are still in good shape and use.. πŸ™‚

    Thanks for sharing this.. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Your posts are always so interesting for me, maybe coz I too could relate to few anecdotes of mine, every time I read them.. πŸ™‚

        Pictures of my bags!! I will sure click them and upload soon.. I haven’t thought of uploading them, but will do and then you will understand the fun part of it.. Please wait for few more days.. πŸ˜‰

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I like your writing so much. You can take an everyday occurrence …. life stuff … and turn it into something so interesting.
    We all have most of the same experiences but you make them come to life. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Before you got to the whole bit about the environment, that’s exactly what I was thinking. Here in Southern CA, there’s a law that you have to bring your reusable shopping bags to the store or pay 10 cents each for a paper bag. I bought some tote bags but so far only one has held up. I think your mother may have been on to something!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes most of the big shoppimg malls do that here as well. When I was looking for pictures I found yday that some of these bags are retailing on ebay. I was wondering if I should buy one😊


  5. Hi Nimi, I was so happy to read your post. I bought one of these bags at a market in Bangalore and I became obsessed with trying to find out more abut them. I have read and heard many stories like yours. I am working with women basket makers in Tamil Nadu and trying to bring the baskets to the rest of the world in a campaign. This project is also trying to encourage folks to take their baskets to the market, just like you did and to not use single use plastic bags. Great story ! Have a look at my new site with some of our baskets. Thanks again.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Julia,

      What a lovely comment! Thank you. So happy to know that you are working with basket makers to promote these beautiful bags. Hats off to you! Will definitely go check out your website.


  6. So nostalgic, Nimi. I too have so many memories of my childhood and those bags. Your post made my day!!
    Would you happen to know if that wire is still available to purchase anywhere in South India?

    Liked by 1 person

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