One of the most common imageries we have of a Malayali household is the ‘vistharich irunnulla pathrapaarayanam’. Everything is available at our fingertips today, but there are some things we just cannot let go of. No matter what news app we have installed on our mobile phones, nothing beats the feeling of stretching out on that ‘chooral kasera’ and reading the morning paper while sipping on ‘choodu chaya’.
Most of us begin our day with crisp discussions based on the newspapers that get delivered ever so deftly by our newspaper delivery agents. We are so used to this custom of picking up the newspaper from the ground, brushing the dust down, and getting engulfed in the happenings around us so much that we miss them when there is a national strike aka ‘Bharat bandh’ or a national holiday the day before. But what happens to these Mathrubhumi, Manorama or Deshabhimaani ‘pathrams’ once we are done reading them? What is the fate of a newspaper in our households? Let us peep into the newspaper afterlife!
Chips or ‘Achaarukuppi’ Pothiyal
If you have been a hosteler, you know that most of your luggage comprises of packages of food. There is no going back to the hostel, after vacations, without amma’s special pickled lime or beef dry roast. And how are they usually packed? In an old Horlicks bottle, wrapped around with layers of newspaper, right? Be it pickles or chips or any other tasty goodie, packing them in newspapers is a time-honoured tradition.
Also Read: Memories of Hostel Jeevitham
We do have some people among us who take a little extra care of their book collection. While most of us love colourful paperback covers, some of us cover them in newspapers. Brown paper for the schoolbooks (they-who-must-not-be-touched till the exam timetable is announced) and newspaper for the ones we actually read!
The OG Every Sadya’ Table
These days, most ‘sadya’ tables are adorned with white paper rolls. But there was a time where newspapers were laid out on the table. Remember those pesky little kids who traded seats with their mom because they didn’t want to eat on the ‘charamam’ page! It was also a really great conversation builder as we waited for the next round of ‘choru’ to come our way. One glance at the paper and hey, new topic for discussion with our ‘sadya’ neighbour while smacking that delicious ‘puli inji’ that just got served!
Car Accessories, Please Take A Back Seat!
A new car is treated like a baby. We spend a lot of money on car accessories. We buy foot mats for the interiors and what not. But wait, did you have the guts to stop at that? Whatever high-quality mat we buy, we always make sure that there is a sheet of newspaper over it for extra protection. The same goes for the car boot space. Decked with layers of newspaper so that no matter what we throw in, a minimalistic ‘social distancing’ is ensured between the goods and the car floor. Because who knows, right?
The ‘Pazhuppikkal’ Technique
This is a neat way to ripen fruits especially when the mango season sets in. It is believed that wrapping them individually in newspapers helps with the build-up of ethylene and ripens the fruit faster. We do this with bananas too when the ‘vaazhakula’ had to be taken down before it was time and we can’t wait to treat ourselves to the ‘puttu-pazham’ combo.
Origami Basics Calls for Old ‘Pathram’
Remember that cool art and craft class you had in school where they taught you Origami? The practise sessions were always done with newspapers. And when we had the confidence to pull it off without making mistakes, we would graduate to using coloured paper. And let’s not forget our very own ‘kadalasu thoni’ and rockets that we were experts at making as kids.
Chood Kadala in Chood Vaartha Paper!
We have all awed at that perfect newspaper cone the ‘vartha kappalandi’ vendor makes. That too in a jiffy. No matter what we do, we can never beat the perfection or deftness with which they make their newspaper cones. And then there are memories of all those times we sat along some random ‘mathilu’ with our friends, crunching away on ‘kadalakka’ and blowing peels in whichever direction the wind took them. Ah, the feels!
That Extra ‘Varumaanam’
When the newspaper stack grows as high as the ceiling, despite us having used it for so many other purposes, there is one last resort – ‘Thookkivikkal!’ There is always one contact we have for a scrap-dealer who comes once in a year to collect all the scrap we have to offer. These are the people who also give you money for every kg of newspaper you have to offer. That gleam-in-the-eyes moment when you make a little extra dough!
We Malayalis have a culture of minimalist waste generation. We tend to reuse and recycle and reassign the roles of almost everything we have at home. Starting from kitchen waste to paint buckets, we try to make sure nothing goes to waste. And the newspaper is no exception!
What are some of your ‘home hacks’ for newspapers? Do let us know in the comments below!