January 25, 2010

Paper Weight

There isn't a whole lot of recycling going on in India. But the one thing I knew was that old newspapers were not thrown in the bin. They were given to the "pazhaiya paper kaaran". No idea beyond that. My newspaper cabinet was threatening to burst so I found one such paper kaaran and decided to pay him a visit with a boot full of old papers.

Upon enquiry I was told that the rate per kg for newspapers and magazines/books was Rupees 6 and Rupees 4 respectively. And he had these old rusty metal scales with 2 5kg weights and 1 1kg weight around him. Very excitedly, I watched as he heaved the magazines onto the scales first...two 5 kg weights on one side and a 1kg above the mags....9 kgs times 4...Rupees 36. Then he put the papers on one side and the 2 5 kg weights on the other side but they didn't balance out. Instead of pulling some papers out and re-weighing them he just looked around, picked up a fairly large stone and put it next to the 10 kgs. Clearly he could see that I was puzzled. Nonchalantly he said "Yeh to Paanch kilo hai"!

Bye bye digitization, we're back in the stone age! Yeah, pun intended.

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