Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Out of trash is treasure

I have become an avid collector. You name it… I have it. My husband and sons ridicule my passion for putting aside paper clips, old shoe laces, discarded wires and torn bed sheets. Yet, when they need something to fix their cycle or clean the carburetor, they come to me! Even friends have got wise to my value as a warehouse and call me up for odds and ends. Lately, my fetish for colleting has increased, thanks to the various contests floated by so many manufacturers.

Ever since a company announced its “T-shirts/doodle pens for wrappers” scheme, I put aside wrappers of everything I buy – just in case! If at any time you need biscuit wrappers, vermicelli cartons or condensed milk tins with labels, you know whom to call. There is a special box in the lumber room, which has caps of bottles ranging from pickles to honey to soya sauce to soft drinks. This habit has become so incurable that even when I visit people and they offer me a bottled drink, I ask them if they could give me the cap instead. They give me a strange look and then the cap. I accept the latter and ignore the former.

When I see a movie, I keep the counterfoils and just as well too – I once won a prize in a contest sponsored by a film company where the entry form was to be sent with the counterfoils. My friends have standing instructions from me to pass the counterfoils of the tickets whenever they see a movie. Bus tickets also may come in handy, so I stuff mine into my handbag and transfer the lot every week into a bag specially kept for it.

This fad has a story behind it. One day, as I got off the bus, a ticket inspector asked for my ticket which alas, had dropped out of my hand while I was busy juggling with my shopping, my handbag, my saree, and strap above, and avoiding a crazy guy who kept bumping into me from behind. The inspector listened to this, gave a I-won’t-believe-this-crap smile and insisted on my paying a 10-rupee fine. Since then, I cling on to my ticket for dear life and thanks to this experience and my collector’s instinct, bus tickets are a favourite with me.

I also keep bills in small box files -you never know when you might need them. Six months after I had bought a particularly fetching ensemble from an emporium and washed it, the wretched thing bled like it had hemorrhage. I flipped through my bill file, found the cash memo and hurried to the emporium, which replaced the dress! “Caveat emptor” warns legal jargon – let the buyer beware; but in my case, let the seller beware – he has to deal with a “bill collector.”

However, I am not as bad as an old aunt of mine. She had a locked trunk, the contents of which we were all curious about. When she died, her beneficiaries eagerly broke open the trunk to partake of its contents. Imagine their horror when they found shorn locks of her husband! She had zealously collected all the hair snipped off by the barber from uncle’s head, every month! Now that’s what I would call an “he(a)irloom.”