April 30th, 2007

The ecology of pockets

Anyone who wears trousers with pockets will definitely have witnessed the burgeoning ecology that tends to develop in them. Even if one carries a wallet, or a purse, it is noticeable.

Like living beings, these receptacles bear proofs of our activities. It is a wrong belief that spending money is well, spending money. You definitely get more than the merchandise bought or experienced. For every moment that we spend money, we get a proof of it. Not everyone is a clean person who immediately removes or files away the adjoining proof. And since these are so small, and usually inconsequential, we tend to forget their existence. Everytime you ride a bus, you get a ticket, apart from the ride. You watch a movie, you get a ticket, apart from the movie. You buy something, you get a bill, and if you happen to buy with a card, you also get a card receipt.

Thus it happens that when I wear a pair of jeans after a long time, a pair which I wore on a rather busy day, I find surprises in every pocket.

As I try to shove in my wallet in my back pocket, my hand discovers a hard cardboard piece – it turns out to be the train ticket. When I take out my wallet, along with it emerges a small bit of paper – my bus ticket to or from somewhere. Absentmindedly as I put in my I-card cum access card into my other back pocket, I encounter a ticket – a movie ticket. I notice a small bump in my front left pocket as I sit down in the morning and put in my hand to discover the earrings that I had removed half way through the day. When I put my hand in my left pocket as I stand…oh yes, again, I find some tissue, and, yes, and, a bus ticket from here to Pune.

A pair of jeans that reminds me of the activities of two separate days. Thankfully the food bills were not in the jeans.

For every piece of paper that I removed, I remembered the snapshot of the activity (except the bus ticket) and relived the day for the moment.


Wallets and purses on the other hand, provide a different sort of memory. Half of the paper found there is not recognizable, apart from the sudden restaurant bill or receipt of a comparatively large purchase. One fine day you will discover your wallet is too fat to be pushed into your pocket. It is the day you have been dreading. It is the day that you finally have to sift through the contents of your wallet and find out what’s in it (apart from the few notes that are there. Somehow they are always a minority!). You toss out the contents and see the innumerable paper slips, most of which would be ATM transaction slips and receipts after a purchase, compounded by visiting cards of people you don’t even remember. Yeah, your plumbers card, the shop-keepers card, business contact of course, and then, cards of all those people whom you met on the train, the bus, or through a friend, about which you really couldn’t care less, but you still carry the card for ‘some future date’.

And so, you find a lot of ‘rubbish’ with some future value. the value comes from the fact that the one card you choose to throw away will be the one that you will need the very next day!


It is like a world out there. One bit of paper attracting another. The moment you keep one paper slip, you don’t mind putting in another. Which means you have a pile. If you are in a hurry and shove something in your pocket, rest assured it will take its own sweet time coming out. This includes small money notes. Sometimes reclaimed after a trip to the washers and ironers!


It’s a large conspiracy, and a small ecology out there in your pocket-and-wallet reservoirs.


Just another proof that ‘space’ needs to be occupied. First by air, then by other types of matter.

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