Thursday, August 16, 2007


We recently came across a TV documentary in which a British-born Indian actor/comedian went on a long trip to India and Pakistan to find out something of his own roots.

It is quite funny viewing.

I could not understand why he was surprised by the man who was shouting at the foot of the apartment block he was staying at for people to bring their rubbish down to him.

This is the rag-and-b0ne man. In Singapore the 'garang-guni' was also a familiar sight when I was growing up.

Mum saved every bit of newspaper and tin, etc, and whatever she could not use, she would sell to the garang-guni man. He came round with his little hand-held weighing scale and would pronounce how much paper or tin would cost, etc. Sometimes old electrical objects like broken irons, clocks, etc, were also sold for a much higher, specific price.

When life was not so 'cheap' and we paid real prices for real goods, especially when there were no government subsidies keeping prices artificially high for some producers, we always recycled our belongings. That was the common 'end-of-life' policy.

It was only when mass-manufactured goods have become so cheap because there is now plenty of cheap labourers to exploit that the disposable lifestyle has emerged.

So, we must turn back the clock to get ethical and ecological again.

Then this comedian visited the wedding of a UK girl. Most of the guests have flown in from different parts of the UK. The setting was spectacular with hundreds of guests in their finery.

My thoughts were: what a selfish young lady! To make people fly out all that way to attend her wedding. Why not hold the wedding in the UK where most of her guests are from. Imagine the expenditure incurred.

It wouldn't be very expensive, said husband, as there is so much competition amongst airlines flying to India.

That may be true, but still, the carbon emissions are totally unnecessary.

I suppose it is typical of most young women getting married. It is going to be her day. She'd do what she wants -- what she's always wanted to do since age 10 -- and who cares about the incovenience of the guests?

Then I thought: To the groom, all the best for marrying a woman who cannot think above her own little wants.

But let him who is without sin cast the first stone ... not.

We too needed to do some flying for our wedding. It was a cross-cultural, cross-border, cross-time zone event. We had the choice of flying five guests from the UK to Singapore, or 300 the other way around.

The problem was slightly compounded by mum-in-law not being fit to fly. In the end, we had to forfeit the presence of my parents-in-law-to-be at the wedding. I flew home to make the final preparations and husband flew out with his brother (and small family) as the sole representatives from the UK family.

We then had another celebration back in the UK, combined with the 40th wedding anniversary of my parents-in-law, for me to meet the extended family.

With hindsight I could have made the wedding even more eco-friendly -- with the materials used, the types of gifts given, etc. (We did hire two people-carrier taxis instead of a fleet of limousines to ferry the wedding party around.)

But I didn't know then as much about conserving this earth as I do now. I trust that I'd be forgiven.

Back to Organic-Ally.

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