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Thursday, February 03, 2011

Almost Recycling...

A curious case of something literally "landing in my lap" occurred this morning. An "unidentified flying object" discovery led to a quick study and analysis of said object before true to form, I noticed something quite possibly amiss. I saw a curious piece of string reaching down to the ground, all the way from the terrace. Stranger things have greeted me on some mornings, I assure you, but as I tugged on it, hopefully to come across more of this kind of industrial-strength string that I could use in my latest adventures in the garden, I couldn't help but feel that something a little larger and wholly unexpected was at the other end. The string, or whatever was the other end of it, began teasing me, giving a little with one tug and then refusing to budge on the next. While I played a curiously non-kinky game of cat-and-mouse, I sincerely hoped none of the other "early risers" that we had for neighbors were watching. The last thing I wanted was to be the subject of a witty recollection that begins with the sentence, "You wouldn't believe what I saw first thing in the morning..."

"What if it's like a large rock or a brick?" I questioned myself. True. It could be something heavy like one of these, making for an absolutely "Wile E. Coyote" moment. But that didn't explain the intermittent smooth tug that resulted in a few inches of string coming over to my side, so to speak. I attempted to wrack a half awake brain, but with the slight chill in the air the overall effect was similar to trying to light up a room with a pair of flint stones. I was so caught up in getting to the bottom of this, or at least to the end of this thread, that I hadn't even realized why I was doing this in the first place. Was this string in my way as I opened the door? No. Was it in anyway offensive, either being visually unholy to bear, or nasally unthinkable to whiff? No. Was it threatening either the structure, in part or in totality, or the residents inside? Not bloody likely. So what was I doing this for? Well, obviously for the satisfaction of pulling down random bits of string first thing after opening my eyes.

"..skr....shhh...," I could hear from the terrace, as if someone were sweeping fine gravel across a smooth, cement floor, and it only got louder turning into, "!" before I looked up in time to see the other end of the string on its way down. True to my earlier suspicions, there was something attached to it. That I had even considered the attachment to be either a rock or a stone seemed to redefine "bad guess". I had to wait a few seconds for the string to slowly descend to my outstretched hands, no not because the terrace is halfway to the moon, but for the simple reason that there was a kite that was keeping the string hostage as it slowly see-sawed it's way down to the ground itself. What a random find, at the crack of dawn pretty much.

At first glance, it's a very cute kite, constructed in a manner so simple you can just look at it and tell that this is probably how the first kite was made. Well, obviously not with the plastic sheet because they didn't have any plastic back then, but the two bits of bamboo or reed to form the spine and the bow of the kite along with the two bits that form the front of the kite haven't really changed at all. If this kite sold for anything more than five rupees (INR 5.00 = USD 0.11) the seller should be shot, it's that cheap. And, come to think of it, there were a bunch of kites being flown from a couple of weeks ago when it was Makar Sankranti. Obviously this should have been the first thing to occur to me when I first encountered the string. Silly, sleepy old me, I suppose. Not bad for a bit of tugging and pulling, because I landed myself with a new toy. No, not the kite, the string, remember? I was going to use the string to help direct a few of the extra-friendly plants that were attempting to get really cozy with some of the other plants, by pulling them apart with some old bricks that I would use as weights. There was absolutely no interest in the kite on my part. Not since my first frustrating attempts to try and get one up in the air as a child, or any that I may have willingly passed up since, have I liked to fly a kite. I suppose I've always thought of this as being "flying vicariously" but being so not-a-pilot, I should be the last one to comment like so. The point is, kites don't do it for me, unless of course it's a brilliant display of a million kites, and I can get people to move in and out of formation on my every whim. Still, as uninterested as I was, there was something strange about the kite. It was the plastic sail.

When I got down to trying to figure out what the crazy pattern on the sail of this kite was, I was in for a bit of a pleasant surprise. It looked like a series of assorted sachets that had obviously been recycled into a kite, a glorious thing in India, a country on the verge of collapse as it continues to swell its ranks and adopt the most horrendous of lifestyles. But then again, these kinds of things have a way of "appearing" to be a certain way in this country. And so it was. Upon closer inspection, the label on the sachet, which I thought said "Rasna" actually said something else. So the sachets were from a spurious powdered drink product that mimicked a nationally loved and recognized brand? Far from it. The sail of this cute kite that I found after tugging on a string that I noticed first thing in the morning, was made from part of a sheet of plastic that had on it a logo and pattern for sachets of powdered orange drink to be cut out of it, but were not. So, how was this a good thing in terms of the environment? I mean, here was a potentially noble example of recycling, if the sail had been constructed from what were used sachets of powdered, flavored drink. But they weren't used. In fact, if we start considering the fact that these may have been part of a reject pile of plastic sheets that a copycat manufacturer of powdered drink products threw away, only to be salvaged by people who had an eye for recycling, the overall picture of environmental impact becomes that much more grotesque. But by far the most important question, even before I began to consider where the plastic came from and where it was headed, or even if it was thoughtless waste or thoughtful recycling, was the fact that now that I had found this kite, with some major damage to its shiny, plastic sail, where else was it going to go except in the trash? And, once there, how exactly was all of this recycling in the first place?


I'm using this kite to entertain the cat. I've got it tied to one of the tassels of a raised cushion that she sometimes sleeps on, and every now and then she'll have a go at it. All's fun until the kite comes undone and we all go back to our lives. That is, until something else randomly shows up with a story to tell. ;)
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