walk a-musing

Monday, July 10, 2006



At last! It is time for my annual summer - about six weeks - hibernation. (Does the wise Walrus hibernate?) And where else, but in Mysore! Ooh ha! (courtesy Al Pacino in 'Scent Of A Woman') But unlike the other unfortunate animals, I don’t work hard to stock up the larder during the previous weeks, I systematically empty it. Also, during hibernation, I eat much more than I eat during the rest of the year!! Slurp Slurp !! Let's not go into pulse rates and body temperatures.

This year there is something new to consider. My blogging. The family in India which gets all upset when I am not found online while I am here, gets even more upset if I am, while I am there. "You didn’t have to come all the way here to sit in front of the computer", they say. Unfair, you say? Oh, well, that's family for you! :)) But I don't want to miss blogging totally. So I have taken some measures.

The person who first suggested I blog wanted me to write about my travels, particularly to those parts of the world which are not high on the list of the Indian tourist, like Cambodia, northern Thailand (with a peep into Laos and a look through the binoculars at Burma, sorry Myanmar), Kyoto, Hiroshima, Nara and Nikko in Japan, plus a few places in Europe and Australia where we do bump into other Indians. But I never got down to writing about them on the blog. I had e-mailed my nieces and my brother after I returned from some of these places. I have uploaded them on to my blog along with some photos and I hope to do some quick editing before posting them when no one is looking.

I will also definitely visit my favourite spots on the blogosphere whenever I can. I am so afraid that I will be forgotten that I will even try to comment and remind you all about my presence, but please understand if it is only “hm…“, "wow!", 'huh!", "ptchah" and not my usual wise, well thought out,....alright, alright, I will stop.

More from India! Hurray!!!


Sunday, July 02, 2006

Garage Sale And Japanese Efficiency

Now that summer is here, there are a number of garage sales and car boot sales in the neighbourhood during weekends. Tables laid out on the front lawn, unwanted flower vases and cycle pumps, candle stands and electric kettles, laid on the table haphazardly, some items lying in an open car boot nearby. A member of the family and perhaps a friend sitting on the chairs behind the tables sipping tea and chatting, an occasional customer stopping by to see if anything would interest him.....this is the usual scene. The sight of these sales brought back to memory another garage sale I happened to visit in Singapore.

There were eight apartments on our floor, the 16th in a building of about 30 floors. One morning as I was going about my work, I heard a buzz outside, of people talking. The sound of voices grew till I could ignore it no longer and had to open the door to see. There were a number of Chinese women standing on the landing, talking seriously in low voices. There were also a few Indonesian maids and a couple of small children. The thought occurred to me that a Chinese neighbour had died. I couldn't ask them of course, so I just closed the door and went in.
After about half an hour I stepped out to go to the gym. The number of people had increased and I found a familiar face.
I said "Hi! What’s going on?"
"Don’t you know? There is a garage sale which starts at 10 o'clock. The Japanese family is moving away"
I had seen a notice downstairs but had paid no attention.
"But people have assembled here since about an hour, and it is still 9.30!"
"Yes I know, the Japanese give away a lot of very good stuff when they move away" said my friend.
I invited her to come in and wait.
"No, this is a queue" she said. "They allow only six people at a time and I dont want to lose my place. The first ones to go in have a good choice"
I had no idea a garage sale was such serious business. But I had seen nothing yet!
When I got back from the gym after about an hour, I met a number of people emerging from the lift, carrying bags full of play things, a child’s chair, a bunch of hangers and a step ladder, and completely satisfied looks on their faces. My friend had moved close to the door but still had not gone in.
Another hour passed and I stepped out again, ready to go out on some errand. The queue had reduced, and I found another friend from a different building waiting to be let in. I stood talking to her for a minute when the door opened to allow the next batch in. I was overcome by curiosity and I walked in with my friend.
The scene that met my eyes really amazed me. Next to the door was a long table behind which two Japanese women stood. Behind them on the wall was a notice board with a number of small stickers in neat columns. One of the women offered the newcomers huge, neatly folded plastic carry bags to collect whatever they wanted to buy. As I watched, a lady walked over to the table, her bag overflowing with assorted objects. The Japanese women took the bag, emptied it, and removed a sticker from each of the objects, and stuck them in one column on the notice board, packed the bag again, counted the numbers written on the stickers, informed the total to the woman, collected the money, and sent her away with a smile.
I knew the lady of the house a little. When she saw me she smiled and welcomed me. She was walking around the house offering help to anyone who requested it. The two women behind the table were her friends. Everywhere around the house all the household objects sat tidily with neat stickers on them. Some had bold "Not for sale" stickers, others had tiny price tags. Books, toys, utensils, a few objects d'art, electronic instruments, cushions....After a survey, my curiosity was satisfied and I said bye to my friend and went my way. When I returned, it was around 2 in the afternoon. The place was quiet. There was a notice on the door which said "Special offer! 1pm to 2pm. All items 50c!"
Does a garage sale always involve such planning and organisation, I wondered. Now I feel it is just another example of Japanese efficiency.