AESTHETICS vs UTILITY


It is my firm belief that advertisements in media are the main culprits in bringing down the cultural and moral values in life notwithstanding their glamorous presentations.

Of late, I have noticed that one of the ads for kitchen electrical appliances (from UK I guess) shown on TV has lovely vases shattering to pieces and an array of their sleek kitchen appliances such as mixer and toaster shown with a copy  saying “Do not accept useless gifts” or words to that effect.

“Man doesn’t live by bread alone” . We human beings are a superior species as compared to animals and birds and we do not spend our time only in eating, sleeping and procreation. We like to see beautiful things, hear beautiful things, create beautiful things and in general surround ourselves with beauty. Nature has given us the capacity to appreciate nature and the creativity to reproduce it.

So, if a bridal couple is gifted a lovely painted vase, it enriches the aesthetic component of their life. Gifting a kitchen gadget to the bride which in any case would have been provided by her parents or would have been bought by themselves later just emphasizes her role as a work horse and her never ending chores in the kitchen.

I am reminded of a joke by a famous wit in Kannada. Those were the days of acute shortage and stringent rationing of kerosene. When someone asked him for a suggestion for a ‘useful’ gift for a couple getting married, he told him to give them a bottle of kerosene. Oh! This obsession of giving something ‘useful’!!!

In my own newly married life, while my mother had seen to it that my kitchen was fully equipped to start a new life, the only things with which I could decorate my drawing room were the ‘useless’ things gifted to me by beauty conscious people_ an inlay- work tray, a Tanjore silver wall plate, a crystal vase which could hold lilies and dahlias, photo frames, albums etc which lasted till we bought our own stuff. Some have even survived our innumerable postings and the buffetings all over the country.

So, I feel aesthetics and utility have their own place in life.  It is wrong to look a gift horse in the mouth and to tell a newly married couple not to accept ‘useless’ gifts. It is highly insensitive to advise them to throw them out in preference to shiny electrical household appliances.

 

Case rests.

Advertisements
Standard

THE FRONT DOOR


I remember trying to play with the front door of my grandfather’s house in my younger days during my visit to Closepet (now called Ramanagara). It was well nigh impossible to move it even a single inch as the door had been made of solid wood and reinforced with 3 thick wooden strips, nailed horizontally to the door, one on top, one in the middle and the third one at the bottom. The latch consisted of a thick iron chain with a thick iron loop nailed to the door frame. The door would never be shut during the day. In the night, it would be closed with bolts inside and a strong, horizontal iron strip across it for added security.

 

Later, in my mother’s house the front door was of a much more vulnerable variety made of thin planed wood and expanded metal, the latter affording a clear view of the visitor. The door would be kept closed throughout the day. Only in the evenings, when the lights were switched on, the front door would be kept open for half an hour to allow Goddess Lakshmi to enter the house, to bless the family with riches and prosperity. This would be done after ensuring the rear door closed, lest the Goddess known for her fickle- mindedness escape through the rear door after entering from the front!

 

But now, many main doors are made of teakwood with a peephole, guard chain and a grill door too for good measure.

In our house, our front door is a flush plywood one painted in white. With the present status of security in Bangalore and the onslaught of door-to-door salesmen, the door is always kept shut, more so after our children flew the nest and left the two of us behind.

Another reason for keeping the front door always shut is to keep away the infamous winged marauders of Bangalore, namely, the mosquitoes. While our elders were keen to keep the front door open in the evenings for the goddess, we make sure that the door is tightly shut, particularly in the evening when the mosquitoes enter houses with open doors gleefully overtaking the goddess.

 

But we did not foresee the effect this constantly-closed-front-door would have on bigger (sized) animals.

When the mating season came, the castrated and frustrated army of dogs which would be constantly chasing female dogs up and down the road through sheer force of habit, would take a detour through our compound. They would use it as a hiding place whenever a fight broke among them (to what end? Heaven knows!) The fact that we have only a short wall 1 metre high made it easy for them to hop in and hop out at will. They slowly started using our verandah as a night shelter. When the rains came, they did not hesitate to use it as a daytime shelter too. Every time we opened our front door, we would see nothing less than 6 stray dogs relaxing in there.

The closed door encouraged stray cows to sit on the flagstones in front of our house and on our driveway. It is not even easy to get rid of the squatting ones. The camel led by its master started taking full liberty to munch the green leaves off the tree in front of our house.

Appalled at the way our frontage was being usurped by live stock, we decided that it was better to confront the smaller mosquitoes than a whole Noah’s ark and hence started keeping our front door open.

So, it is an open door policy now in our house, with free entry for anyone and everyone.

Standard