As I look back in time, I think about my summer vacations spent at both sets of my grandparents’ house in India. It was my favorite part of the summer break, away from the hustle and bustle of the city. I compare my life as an adult and my grandparents’ and I have realized that my lifestyle is nothing like theirs. I understand that we are not living in the same era nor the same country but there was a sense of slowness in their way of living. My grandparents worked hard, but they also had mindful leisure time- away from technology and truly being present in the moment. I get nostalgic thinking about my childhood spent stargazing at night while falling asleep on the terrace, playing outside in the mud, and enjoying my mangoes in the backyard in the summer heat.
My grandparents carry many valuable lessons with them that I want to hold on to, practice in my life, and pass it on to the future generation. These lessons go so well with the whole concept of sustainability. I learned about sustainability from my grandparents more than anyone. They lead by example and implementation so ingrained in their lifestyle. They lived a simple life. My dada (grandfather) picked fresh vegetables from the market and my baa (grandma) made very simple and wholesome meals- not to mention finger licking. My dada walked everywhere, efficiency and the urge to get somewhere quicker was clearly not on his mind.
I remember their house was an ongoing DIY project, if something fell apart, it didn’t end up in the trash, it was fixed, mended and reused till it needed more mending. If only I had photographs of all the cool ways things were fixed by my dada. All the ladies from my extended family came together during siesta time, laying on the cool marble floor and gossiping. They brought their clothes along with them that needed mending. We had one sewing machine that my grandma, my mom, and I also used (last in 2018). Although it was quite a challenge and a workout using my legs to operate the old machine- I am glad we still have it. A sewing machine that has lasted three generations is quite a feat compared to the number of times we change phones in our lifetime. Now a days, things are made with expiration dates and not longevity in mind.
Of course, I am not oblivious and ungrateful to the conveniences we have at the touch of our fingertips. But we need to take time out to choose wisely for things that should be so fundamentally right for us- our eating choices, forming real connections, slowing down, and mindful consumption of things. How and when did we shift from the use it till it can’t be used anymore to the use & throw lifestyle?