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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Mending as a Restoration Craft

Mending as a Preservation Craft.

Human brilliance is undermined by none other than fellow humans. Millions of years ago when men strived to improve his living conditions and struck upon fire it was the triumph of human will and determination. We have come a long way since then and once again there is a calling to weather the test of time with sheer human determination.
Today as we sit on the edge of a manmade climate calamity that nudges our doors, it may be wise to turn around and look for simple yet effective responses or traditions that our older generations pursued. Human traditions always had a deeper meaning that most of us can decipher in our lifetime. Over the last 3 or 4 decades these values has either been misplaced or forgotten by the following generations, thus causing a wave of stupendous blunders.

Repair is sidelined in the modern world or better forgotten. The consumerist mindset or the market that drives the ‘new’ can’t possibly pay any heed to repair. If I talk of  India, repair has always been an obvious solution for dysfunctional items but that was a few generations ago. With a drive for growth and progress came literacy (or the mere ability to read and write), which somehow brought about a generalized indifference for both natural and manmade resources giving way to resource illiteracy. Literacy got misunderstood as education and in the name of progress mindless exploit of resources became a regular practice. Technology perhaps played very pertinent role here.

By resource illiteracy I only imply a certain distancing from the wisdom of all possible resources around us. This wisdom came about by being part of various everyday processes. A man working in a cotton mill may have been familiar with season and soil, the cotton would grow, he was in tune with the whole milling process (perhaps simple machines) as well as the finished product and also it’s life cycle. With fast pace globalization, technological advancement and scale of operations, valuation of all resources is now reduced to mere costs, this indeed is a great tragedy of our times.

Globalization and industrial dynamics at a cost of local indigenous processes, disconnects not only end consumer but also most of the people who are part of remote operations of a very complex global matrix. For example cotton from India, spun and processed in Bangladesh, manufactured into clothes in Srilanka or Vietnam and sold in Europe.

The urban diaspora in particular, appears to be handicapped in this scenario, we in the quest for comfortable and a convenient lifestyle has given way to huge amount of waste, resource underutilization and abuse. We dwell in out of context ideas and products, living in a conceptual world distancing ourselves from physical realities that actually surround us.

Last week I was part of the 6th edition of Repair Café Bangalore. Repair café Bangalore is part of the Repair café Foundation based in Netherlands. Repair cafés are places where a functional repair workshop is carried out with the help of local hosts, citizens, repair specialists and volunteers.
An old gentleman serving the Indian Navy told us an interesting story. He was part of the naval base in Chennai way back in 1940’s. An annual customary meet-up with their British counterparts had the visitor taken aback. In the ship they noticed a dated piece of machinery, which has been discontinued in the British ships long time back, still running with gusto. The chief of the Indian Navy contingent laughed and said, in India we can repair anything.

Repair has deep rooted significance in most of living cultures around the globe. Preservation and forwarding life (as we know it today) may have been the most poignant lesson man has taught his children in the past. Celebration of what exist and what’s in use was a determining factor in our traditional practices. Passing of this wisdom was equally important.

Kantha, is a traditional Indian duvet or comforter also a bed liner for the new born, an expression of frugality at it’s best. In Bengal the summer are intense and lasts long, With the birth of a new baby the grandmother or the elderly at home would stitch a multi-layered comforter with old cotton saris completely handmade. A tedious process that needs exceptional patience but working in bits and pieces the katha would come to life.  I’ve seen my grandmother stitching beautiful animal and folklore designs along with lullaby’s and poems sewn in for the new born in the kantha spreads. It’s a practice still followed in the Indian heartland.

My curiosity led me to a whole new world of similar practices that is part of many cultures around the world. In Japan ‘Boro’ textiles was born of forgotten values of ‘mottainai’ or ‘too good to waste’.
The charm of boro lies in the used look and the variations in the shades of indigo. Sewn together over generations, family sagas are woven through the threads.

Sasiko which literally means ‘little stabs’ is a form of decorative reinforcement stitching (or functional embroidery) from Japan. Traditionally used to reinforce points of wear, or to repair worn places or tears with patches. The white cotton thread on the traditional indigo blue cloth gives sashiko its distinctive appearance.
‘Darning’ is seeing a comeback slowly but surely.  Clever creative ideas of visible mending inspired from sashiko can be looked up online.
In Nordic countries I stumbled upon similar decorative and elaborate embroidery as visible mending on warm clothes and woolens. Lace mending is a traditional craft in France.

Kinstugi is a Japanese art of repairing ceramic with gold. Kintsugi ("golden joinery") or kintsukuroi ("golden repair") is the centuries-old Japanese art of fixing broken pottery with a special lacquer dusted with powdered gold, silver, or platinum.

The relevance of these mending techniques can’t be undermined. These processes are mindful way to rejoice what we possess, to restore and reclaim them with care and add value to them as they age with time. There’s a need to acknowledge these traditional mending crafts, the skill involved and bring them back to practice in today’s context especially as we grapple with urban waste crisis.
Mending is a slow process. It calls to pause and realign our thoughts and our day to day practices. Perhaps a relook at our habits and behavior towards things we possess.
So we can reconstruct a paradigm that enables and propagate virtues of repair & reuse.
Nature possesses incredible intellect to repair and regenerate. It’s time we orient ourselves with this critical life preserving process. Somehow we have stop paying attention and as the famous quote goes, To Love, is to pay attention.

As individuals, parents and responsible citizens of the world we must usher a knowledge system for our children that is not only sensible and sensitive towards life in general but it establish and recognize critical human skills in the forefront  for preservation and value our abilities to recreate the brilliance that we humans have achieved for times immortal.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Doctor of Repurposing

‘It’s all about thinking inside the box rather than out of the box’ advocates Dr. BA Anantharam, a renowned plastic reconstructive hand surgeon who is a president of Annasawmy Mudaliar CIE’s Public Charities in Frazer Town Bengaluru. He was a former president of Indian Society for Surgery of Hand.

 Ingenuity is not lost, we bring you an interview with Dr. Anantharam.

Bottle with no wine, so question arises ‘What do we do with the bottle, it’s still new?

We sat across his cluttered work desk and  found his workspace teeming with stories of repurposed items. Dr. Anantharam said excitedly ‘So here is a pen-stand made of out of wood from birch tree which I had picked in Geneva’. He continues ‘you know there are tree surgeons whose job is to focus on health and safety of individual plants and trees’.
When one asks him what triggers this behavior of repurpose. He replies ‘It’s a question of having access to very high quality material that’s considered unfit for use by others.‘
So here goes the story, one day the Doctor visited a certain shop seeking another piece of that perfectly modeled pencase he used to have. The shopkeeper said that it was one of its kinds. Dr. Anantharam was disappointed and decided to create one for him and till date he continues to surprise himself with self-designed products intended for his various needs.
For instance once there was a problem of staining of his shirt with pen ink and lot of time spent trying to use plastic or other materials.  The solution was not consistent. Suddenly one day he notices a leather pen pouch with a pen dealer and he cried ‘eureka!’ He realized in leather stock for patients, there will be few scraps of high value leather. Hence, decided to turn them into pen cases.’ He says, showing his custom made pen case ‘it’s made out of calf leather, the more you use it, the softer it becomes but the nappa leather is finest of all’.
But there was more on his table that continued to electrify us and one notices another brightly coloured pouch made out of discarded jute ment for special knives for various purposes of his trade.  Even his Swiss army knife has a leather holder which was custom made from locally available material. He spins his self-made top made of empty refill and bottle cap on the table while informing that the ‘top is one of the earliest toys invented by man’.
One notice there is lot of cut pieces of tiles which were converted into coasters and card holder. He was quick to add ‘all these come handy to be custom-made gift items to people’

Organize for efficiency
Recently in a super specialty hospital when Dr. Anantharam was in a surgery and also at a post –op round he asked for scissors and was handed a blade instead. At AMGH (Annasawmy Mudaliar General Hospital), bandage and scissors are kept ready in a holder out of an empty drip bottle and consequently it take 10 min for a dressing which would take twice the amount of time at other places because the staff are running up and down looking for things the Doctor asked for.
‘Efficiency is the key word, developing a methodology which is optimum in nature. Implementation in hospital becomes an uphill task’, says Dr. Anantharam, but in AMGH this is not the case, while taking a tour in the surgery room, the doctor shows us how various tools are organized the way they should be. How neatly the register is maintained and how the waste paper is being reused. It is impressive to see that staff members understand this virtue of orderliness and follow it diligently. Even a patient contributed by specially designing a surgery steel hand stand meant for surgery of hand.

Age of instant gratification
T-20 to T-1 will be the future of cricket where a match will be played in one over with 10 balls in an over. People find test matches too long to endure. ‘Virtual’ cricket may eventually happen say Dr.Anantharam. He mentions that people want consultation online; they describe their pain on a phone-call. That is why there is mushrooming of online portals. He muses ‘what people don’t realize is health is an “IN EXACT” science. They want conversation, but not listening’. Now days an organ transplant is being spoken about but one forgets that with transplant comes anti-rejection medication for the rest of one’s life.
In the same breath he adds, Why did Kodak fail ?-- because they did not capitalize the need of conversion from Analog to Digital .Therefore two factors influence the big picture, the access to it and the need for it.

These things keep me busy and occupied

We want to thank Dr. Anantharam for sharing his experiences of repurposing and how it’s closely related to efficiency in life which gives us a new perspective on waste.  He went on to instruct his colleague to get him discarded pieces of mahogany, sal and teak wood from which he crafts walking sticks, his current hobby.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Circular Economy and role of Repair

As we try to understand a circular economy system we come to realize that recycle at an industrial level should be the last resort. As we compare energy expendature between manufacturing, repair and recycle it is startling to notice that in recycling energy expenditure can even precede the energy expenditure at the manufacturing level which increases the carbon mileage. In developed countries the product is set miles away for dismantling and recyceling and exposure to hazardous materials have no accountability for.

Here are some interesting article that talks about recycle as the last resort, when the product have been used to it's full capacity unlike now when products are tossed at only1/3 of it's life cycle or better still when brand new.

Here's another interesting website that decodes a lot about circular economy....

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

We are looking for your support!

Sharing a blog from Marcy who aligns with out thoughts and have supported us on Ketto!
Spread the word, show us support and we will come to your neighborhood and conduct a repair cafe workshop.
For donations please find the link below:-

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Spare some time, give a little thought.

To a whole lot of us repairing is an after thought, most of us look at it as some one else's job but a little careful consideration and knowledge can go far not only in becoming self reliant but also saving many accidents and silly mistakes that are caused due to unawareness. Here's a video that talk about such a case.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Health checks for your gadgets

Buying a new smartphone Or A computer sounds great!?

But do you know maintaining your old gadgets can be fun too!

Vincent Lai

(Here are few excerpts of advice from Vincent Lai and Kyle Weins, the CEO OF i-Fixit courtesy 
the International New York Times and Deccan Herald)

·       Reality Check-Maintaining smartphones and tablets are fairly easy.

# Factor No. 1 (Storage)

When your device is running out of storage and OS may slow to crawl. It is high time that you free space in storage. Here Lai recommends that for Android phones- photos, movies etc., should be downloaded on a removable memory card. This will free some space and let the system to run faster. However for Apple iPhones and iPads which lack support for removable memory card, managing free space can be tricky. Here the solution as recommended by a user on is to rent a movie on iTunes that exceeds the amount the space you have left, so when device detects that lack of space it will automatically rejects the download  and clear out cached data lingering in apps. Lai says he has applied this tactics and it sped the performance of his tablet significantly. He adds further that after all this; if you are still struggling with storage, than consider deleting apps that you rarely use or backing up all the data & reinstalling the phone’s OS.

# Factor No. 2 (Battery)

Every mobile battery has a maximum number of cycles or number of times it can be depleted or recharged. For iPhones, apps like coconut battery reveals battery statistics and for Android, apps like macropinch can tell general health of a battery. The rule of thumb is every 2 years consider replacing smartphone battery and for tablets at least every 4 or five years.

·       Reality Check- It is easier to remove & upgrade computer parts than mobile parts.

Factor No. 1(Hard disk)

A.    Ditch traditional hard disk drives for a new storage technology called solid state. Although solid state has less storage but can upload applications faster and are more durable.

B.    RAM – Install the maximum amount of memory that your computer supports to speed up the things.

C.     Culprit called DUST-Spend on a can of dust removing spray & blowing out dust from air vents and fan every few months because dust generates heat and accelerate PC’s aging process.

D.    Check the amount of storage and battery capacity that remain – For Mac book , app called coconut battery will do the job and –For Android , app called infoview  will show the health of the battery.

(Disclaimer: This piece of information is compiled by Purna Sarkar based upon the news available in media and thus should not be hold responsible in any court of law.)

E-waste in India

Hard Facts about E-waste generator in India

# What is an E-waste?

·       E-waste typically includes discarded computer monitors, mother boards, cathode ray tubes (CRT), printed circuit boards (PCB), mobile phones and chargers, compact disc, headphones, white goods, plasma TVs, refrigerators and other household electronics, medical equipments etc.

      # How E-waste composition does look like?


# How much of E-waste is recycled?
·        2.5% only

# Who manages this E-waste in India?
·     95% of this waste is managed by unorganized sector. In India about 5 Lakh child labourers between the ages of 10-14 years old are engaged in this act without any awareness or safety measures.
·       Scrap dealers are mostly dismantling disposed products instead of recycling it.

# What is the source of your information?
·       Survey conducted by Assocham with Frost and Sullivan.

# Where did you find this detail?
·       It was published in Deccan Herald on 22nd April, 2016.

(Disclaimer: This information is compiled by Purna Sarkar based upon the news available in media and thus we should not be hold responsible for any mistake or error etc.)