Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Hand me down economy

Some (subjective) years ago, when I used to go to school, we had a syllabus change. Every year, our English textbook changed - that meant a fresh, new textbook was served up for us. That was bad news (for me and the teachers too, I guess).

Until then my textbooks were handed down from two students, each senior to me. So, two students had neatly marked out all the answers of the teachers questions. Teachers change their notes only when the syllabus changes, so when I got my textbooks, I got all the answers marked out. Especially important for English and History. With the changed textbooks, I had to mark all the answers, a pain when you want to finish your homework at the highest speed possible before you hit the playground.

The hand me down network continued, not just inside families and extended families, it continued within a community or just like minded people. So, we got used furniture from one uncle while we passed on some of comic books to another cousin. It wasnt barter, it was more of giving away something that was too good to throw away and had a considerable use left in them.

Even today while you will hear of phones and other stuff being handed down, usually within families, it has gone down. Many in the previous generation would agree with this. In any case, there was a strong element of a hand me down economy in a lot of our dealings - a natural thing for Indians to do, or so I thought. But as the country prospered, consumption increased and some of the hand me down things became part of trash. There is, still, undoubtedly a significant hand me down component in the economy. Most colleges for instance have a nice hand me down system in place.

And now that the whole world is talking about sustainability, reuse, recession perhaps it is time to revisit the "hand me down" economy.


purple pitara said...

as a kid i hated hand-me-downs but now as a grown-up, i completely subscribe to it. one idea yet to take off in magic puddles is starting a swap shop - any takers?

Neelakantan said...

I was thinking about the swap shop at MP even as I wrote this post :)

Arif said...

I so starkly remember how my mother in the sweltering Dubai heat, would hunt for students from older classes, befriend them and their mothers so that I could have text books and more importantly their notebooks. *sigh* I love you, Mom!

But on the brighter side, since I had cousins who where based in England, I also got the best hand-me down clothes. :-)