The Art of Reusing

March 17, 2012

Some of the below mentioned activities are advisable for children, some are not, while some are fine with parental guidance.

It’s time for more nostalgia on RwB. Wherever you see or read today, the one word that hits you is REUSE and RECYCLE! Just remembered a few things that we used to reuse as kids. So here goes:

Empty Cigar packs : This was between 1st standard till 3rd standard. Me and my friends dutifully hunted for used cigar packs on the footpaths, roads and near any petty shops. As soon as we got a few, we threw away the torn or soiled ones, while the OK looking ones were wiped and taken into the ‘secret production chamber’, that no parent knew where it existed! The packs were carefully made into a walkie talkie phone, which when you held in your right palm (between the index and thumb fingers facing you), would open up. The main tools used were a strong rubberband and a ball point pen (blue and red) to customise the phone to your requirements!

Any cousin or relative to visit the home would be shown the proud possession! And when they asked to give our phone for them to hold, we wouldn’t let them touch it,and we would run away to our production chamber to make some changes, lest our enemies duplicates the hi-tech phone!


Cycle tyres : Around the same time, it was a pastime to play with thin cycle tyres (Some boys would have small and plumpy scooter tyres, which made a ‘tob-tob- noise when you hit them). Cycle tyres were quite easy to get, as the nearby cycle shop owner would happily get rid of unwanted tyres. When Amma used to send us to buy a soap or when we suddenly found a 25 paise (on the window sill, with which we bought a Double Bubble Gum), we would hit the tyre along side (either with our palms or with a smooth chota stick), and as we turned so would the tyre, which obeyed us only when we had that small stick). As we stood at the shop, we would hang it on to our right shoulder, and would be back home in a jiffy if the house was down the road! Where most of today’s cars are parked on the roads would be our rightful lane to play the Tyre aata!


Magnets and Ball bearings : When with the cycle tyres, I remember collecting a box full of ball bearings (again this came free and easy, as there would be plenty of them lying in and around the cycle shop, some visible, some hidden in the dark soil, some shining, some black and out of shape…)

There was nothing as fascinating as seeing the ball bearings stick on to each other (similar to 3-4 people holding on to each other on a cliff, one holding the other’s leg) when a Magnet made its presence. The ball bearings would wobble when the magnet moved near it. Magnets would suddenly be in so much demand, that the round badge like things that Amma had purchased from 8th cross Rayara Gudi, and pasted on the metal window frame in the kitchen (or later the refrigerator) on which were Krishna, Rama, Raghavendraswamy, Lakshmi, Ganesha, Saraswathi etc. etc. would all be left to pile up on each other in the shelf as the magnet behind them would have been robbed!


Coloured Glass pieces : This was a very short lived hobby. Maybe during 2nd standard till beginning of 3rd standard. When we used to play Mann-aata, we would suddenly get dark brown glass pieces, while digging. While walking to the bus stand with Amma, I would chance upon a yellow shining glass piece. I used to collect these and watch the world through them. Such a surreal feeling!


Film Reel : Lengthy film reels would be thrown on roads, which we would collect and try to see if we could see the characters moving when we moved them really quickly. Negligible movement! Unless I found a reel with Rajkumar in it, I would not bring these into the secret production chamber. And I never found a reel with Rajkumar in it!


Scud Missile : These were clearly during the Gulf war, when I was in 9th standard. All that was required to make the scud missile was a small wooden plank (as big as your palm), 3 small nails, a rubberband and some matchsticks. The 3 nails would be partially hit on the plank to make a triangle. Two nails would be wound by a rubberband. A matchstick would now be placed, ready to be shot. When one of the nails having the rubberband around it would become hot (due to the heat transferred by another matchstick), the scud matchstick would fly into the air, to the enemy’s camp!


Hand made Cork ball : When in 4th standard, me and my friends spent considerable time in the summer trying to make our own cork ball. For this, we would go in search of Gobli mara / Rain tree (Acacia).

Once we collected lots of pods from the tree, we would then climb on to the parapet of my friend’s house to crush the pods (Why there? Who knows!). We would suddenly realise that Oil was missing –  so we would ask our friend Umesh to get some oil really quickly – he would sometimes get cooking oil, sometimes coconut oil. Now the grinding would start until it became a fine paste with a smooth texture. We would then make a ball, pouring oil on our hands and rolling the stuff in our hands in a circular motion. Then, it was the turn to keep the ball for drying on top of our house for a week.

After the exercise, we would wash our hands usually with 501 bar soap (used for washing clothes). However long we washed, the smell of the pods would stay for atleast for a day!


Grandpa’s Walking stick : Every house would have a walking stick -either Thatha’s, or your father’s Kashi Yatre stick, which would suddenly be more important than the cricket bat… because the stick would turn into a hockey stick overnight!


Magnifying glass : Commonly called Lens, we would keep it in our small pockets, take it to school, not to use it for what it is actually meant for, but to burn paper or dry leaves during Lunch break (January till March.) I think this was during 5th standard.


Matchbox : Collecting and sharing different matchbox covers was a hobby between 1st standard and 4th standard. But by 6th standard, only men of steel would learn the trick of using the ‘striking surface’ in various ways. Firstly, we would cut the piece and paste it onto the shoe heel. A match would always be hidden, unknown to the opponent. During a face off, the stick would appear out of no where and be rubbed on to the shoe… the lit matchstick would be put off by blowing it in a very stylish way, with the eyes seeing the opponent and only the lower lip moveing (as close to what we had seen our hero doing in films!)

[Got caught doing this during SUPW class… made to paint 15 more chairs than others as a punishment]

Another use of the matchbox was to put small insects into it and release them in school / classroom!


Peppermint cover : This was one of the earliest tricks that humans learnt. After the chocolate / peppermint is totally chewed and swallowed, the cover would be pulled tightly by both hands and held close to the lips and blown. Beginners would get a ‘tussss’ sound, First graders would get a screeching noise while the Experts would be playing with the whistling sound!


Broom stick : Ramayana made us desperate for bow and arrow. The lucky ones would get a nice and strong stick of an unknown tree which would act as a bow while we (cursed souls) would have to be happy turning a broom stick into a bow and another broomstick for an arrow. Highly dangerous… we never managed to cause any accidents, but always heard someone tell us that some one in Rajajinagar/ Yeshwanthpura / Subramanyanagara lost an eye… we never believed it…but still we were scared of hurting each other!


Edges of the footpath towards the road : This was where we sat after playing cricket, and drank ‘Chombugattle’ water!. We would discuss about the game, rag, tease, eat bubble gum… While playing, if the match was ‘single side fielding’, then the batting side would sit usually on a compound wall behind the batsman (Usually there is one everywhere!).


Empty Bottles : These were used mainly during Deepavali, to light Rockets. In our days, we used to send some horizontally on the roads, what with such less vehicles.


X-Ray sheets : To watch the sun during Grahana, we would hunt for Ajji’s Xray sheet (that she had been given after her recent visit to Jayadeva Hospital near City Market). Once we started asking for the Xray sheet, Ajji would think it was being asked to discuss about her health, and she would quickly and obediently give it, taking it out from the bottom-most part of the ‘kabbinada pettige’, only to be later told that her Xray has become a toy for the young brutes!


Newspapers : Some of us would use newspapers for various things – to bind books, to make kites, hit flies, light the kerosene stove / hande-vole-uri, as a chart sheet to make collage, to fold and keep a piece of the newspaper under the shaking part of the Godrej bureau / shelf / almirah…


Soap cover : After taking out the new soap bar, the cover would be opened and kept under the clothes, for a few days, so that the aroma spread across the clothes.


Dairy Milk Foil : The aluminum foil one found in a Cadbury Dairy Milk, would be neatly kept in a school notebook, after rubbing out any crease on the foil! The metallic sound it made every time we held it was music to my ears. Even today, when I eat a Dairy Milk (which is the BEST chocolate in the world), I cannot forget how many foils I must have preserved in my childhood!


Bangalore Press Calendar : “The empty space behind the Bangalore Press calendar was where we wrote and practiced our tables, handwriting…” father used to tell this. For me, any empty space is worthy only to be drawn. And draw was what I did behind the calendar sheets! (Good, there was no back to back printing then!)


Old socks : This was after we came back from school, and without removing the school uniform. 6th and 7th standard. The tennis, rubber, cork or leather ball we had would be put into the socks and tied to a high beam / grill. Kept hitting the ball with SG bat to get the perfect shot, feet movement and posture!


Used Dalda / Farex Tins :  Rangoli powder in my house, neighbour’s house, or any one’s house would all be kept in either Dalda or Farex tin only! And these tins with Rangoli would be stolen to put the crease on our pitches i.e. my house compound!


Cleaning the comb: Bottom portion of any used Agarbathi would be used to clean the comb. Later on, used and dead toothbrushes would be used to clean the comb. Another typical sight was seeing my opposite house Ajji using a matchstick to clean her ears.


Old Ball point pen: We would love to fix the small pencils to the bottom portion of the ball point pen and write our home work faster than normal. Got a kick out of this simple act!


Winding the Pencil : We would twist and wind the pencil box using a rubberband and a long pencil. When left alone, the pencil would rotate, thus making us feel our pencil box is a helicopter! 3rd standard project.

Another activity was piercing the eraser with the pencil and hitting the table or the friend unecessarily, with our new tool! 1st standard assignment.


Eraser / Rubber as a seal : We would write our initials in reverse on the ‘rubber’ and print it on our text book /note book, hands, thighs, sometimes crazily on our forehead…. thus sealing our fate literally! 2nd standard.


Exam pad : Invariably, every boy’s exam pad (brown color with metallic clip) would be broken in at least one corner. That was because it would be used as a cricket bat after the exam!


Cardboard in the Agarbathi pack: would be used to as a make-believe telescope…which would be used on a hot summer afternoon as we stood in the middle of the road to see if the Joy ice cream gaadi is coming or not! Seeing through it, we always believed ‘objects looked closer than they appeared otherwise’.


Blade and Compass : To make carvings on school furniture (Some of my teachers follow this blog…so no more details)


Tamarind seed : We would have this in our pockets anytime of the day. We would rub it on the wall or the ground and keep it immediately on the cheeks or necks of those who would annoy us.


Notebook Cover : The hardbound covers of our previous year’s notebooks Lekhak, later Vidya Lekhak, would have the pages torn out, and the hard cover would be used as a table tennis bat.

This post has become much much longer than what I actually thought initially. If you’ve read it fully , thanks for getting till here. Hope you have enjoyed this post. Let me know even otherwise.


31 Responses to “The Art of Reusing”

  1. Phew! Felt like I relived my entire childhood in 20 mins. Had me nodding my head vigorously during many paragraphs. Brought back many memories of Big Fun (runs sticker), stickers and labels for note book covers, pen pencil, taka tiki pen, single pen having multi color refills, playing cricket on streets with 1 run declared when ball goes to ‘mori’ etc. 🙂 Thanks once again for writing this post!!!

    • rk Says:


      30 paise Big Fun was FUN indeed! And mori-ge hodre ‘1 dik’ was as famous as PINDA ball! The next door ajji used to curse us when she heard us shouting and arguing ‘PINDA BALL’!

      Thanks for your comments!

  2. Uma Suresh Says:

    Gee Bellur,You have covered it all mate!
    I used the back of the news paper to practice Rangoli patterns & used the paper to make tennis balls!
    Ajji using the match stick to clean her ears!!! I had to smile at the same time,clearly like the ear bud shape I must say.
    You take me down the memory lane many times & I think it is good for the brain!
    I loved reading the whole post,
    Thankyou once again.

    • rk Says:

      Thanks for sharing your memories! Paper ball was quite famous, yes!

      Rangoli patterns behind the calendar, you mean? That’s super!

      Keep visiting and sharing your thoughts on RwB!

      Take care

  3. This is awesome post…Brought back so many memories..I was a benki potna collector..Did any one do Chocomania with Cadbury’s chocolates and collect stickers that came with Nestle chocolates like Milky bar and Crunch…

    • rk Says:

      glad u liked the post!
      do tell us more abt ur chocomania!
      btw, i used to love the cheetah fight logo. which was ur fav?


  4. Uma Suresh Says:

    Yes,back of the calender to draw Rangoli!!!
    Thanks for the correction.
    Have a great week.

  5. Vinaya Says:

    Really enjoyed this post! Brought back many memories of making cork balls on pavements in Malleshwaram, playing with cig packs (mostly like dominoes), collecting every kind of chocolate foil etc. Thanks for a great blog and a wonderful trip down memory lane!!

    • rk Says:

      Thanks for visiting RwB, and happy that the post took you down memory lane!
      Keep visiting RwB, and keep commenting when ever you feel like!

      Take Care

  6. Veena Says:

    Wow! Really took me back to my childhood.
    I remember all these done by the boys gang of the neighourhood (tyre, cork ball making etc,).. I was laughing out of my heart while reading few of them and the dalda dabba just flashed in front of my eyes containing the rangoli dabba (the muchchla used to get rusted quite often)

    Vidya lekhak book brings back so much joy… I really liked the smell of those new books which were bought at the begining of the new academic year and we used to neatly wrap it around and put our favourite labels for those subjects that we liked more (for eg., chip and dale would go to maths, mickey mouse to english while some unknown character would go to social studies book)..

    We used to collect those used battery , I don’t remember why.. but we did plenty of them..
    and how could we forget those origami exercises we did using sheets of the rough book?

    So much more to write.

    • rk Says:

      nice to see you back, veena! smell of the new notebooks… i used to love them too… still love them! and yes, collecting batteries was quite a much loved activity too – i remember ‘jajjing and opening’ many batteries to see what was inside!

      keep visiting and tk care!

      • Veena Says:

        true true, jajjing used to be there to see that black material inside… super nakking!!

        • rk Says:

          i am surprised that a studious student like you used to ‘jajj’ the battery! i thought good students like you and many others always used to study, and never came out to do ‘useless things’ with ‘useless fellows’! that is what we used to get scolded as – USELESS FELLOWS DOING USELESS THINGS!

          my neighbour aunty used to see me do all the useless things from her first floor window… and as an aakaashavaani, when i was at the peak of the mischief, i would hear a voice (face hidden behind the window curtain) – “aayyyyeeeeeeaa … yeno maadthidyaaaa?”! she was like an aerial CCTV camera, placed to capture all my mischiefs! she is still there next door. quite a few years since ‘that’ window has been opened now. poor soul! how much i’ve tormented her! always used to do things that irritated her!

  7. Radhika Says:

    Loved this post very much! Am wondering if you lived anywhere close to Malleshwaram Railway station. We lived close to that place and every summer some of us, mix of girls and boys would go to the railway station to fetch the fruit smelling ‘cork ball kaayi’ in the railway station and make the cork ball though we girls never played with it. BIG FUN was fun too – we learnt both sharing and stealing! Rubber seal was done by smearing oil from someone’s head on the rubber, pressing it on the text book print and pressing it again on class work book! Thanks for the lovely post.

    • rk Says:

      hi radhika,
      welcome to RwB! thanks for reminding me about the Hair Oil-Rubber-Printing Press! which school did you study in? myself from KVM.
      have been in malleswaram couple of years before doordarshan started in bangalore! well, almost all my life! 😉
      nice to see so many of you liking this post. just wrote it very casually, on a weekday, during lunch break!
      please post more often on your lovely blog! wonderful writings!
      thanks once again.

      • Radhika Says:

        Thanks for visiting my blog. I studied in MLA School. I’ve always visited your rblog to find out about Ramanavami music schedule!

        • rk Says:

          Nice to know that! Hope you saw this year’s Ramanavami schedule? Which are the ones you are visiting? Don’t miss Gayatri Venkatraghavan on Apr.23. Enjoy and a Happy Ugadi to you and your family!

  8. Veena Says:

    Bellur, fun is fun..!

    “Useless fellows” – I will kick you out of the window was one of the favourite bygLa of our english teacher during our 5th-6th std. Ultimately all these Useless fellows remain useful to the country in later part of life.. 🙂

    • rk Says:

      Ultimately all these Useless fellows remain useful to the country in later part of life

      haha… veena, thanks for telling that! my hindi teacher used to say “main tumhe khidki se bahar phenk doongi!” ONLY FEMALE TO HAVE SLAPPED MOST MALES!- nominations are – ONLY MALATHI PRAKASH…she was a terror!

  9. Gouri Satya Says:

    Very nostalgic. took me back to my memory to those old days some 60 yers ago. Had forgotten a few, but now reminded sweetly!

  10. Gouri Satya Says:

    My post needs a correction! – “Very nostalgic. Took back my memory to those old days, some 60 years. Had forgotten a few, but reminded sweetly!

    • rk Says:

      Thanks for dropping by, Gouri!
      A genearation used to be 30 years but it’s down to 20 now I’ve heard. So effectively, this post took you back 3 generations! Wow!

  11. Grandpa’s Walking stick — also used to pluck flowers 🙂

    Super post Bellur – took me down memory lane!

  12. Chaitanya Ram Says:

    There was hardly telephone at home, forget mobile, no emails, no Orkut/Facebook/Twitter communications… but wondering how did we all did the same stuff! I am completely lost in this thought 🙂

    Thanks Bellur for another gem, loved reading it and its so nostalgic!


    • rk Says:

      hey chaithanya, good to see you back!

      There was hardly telephone at home, forget mobile, no emails, no Orkut/Facebook/Twitter communications… but wondering how did we all did the same stuff! I am completely lost in this thought

      totally agree with you!! glad you liked this post!

  13. samaganam Says:

    sir,you deserve a booker prize for this wonderful article.
    You tickled my funny bone.So much of nostalgia,so many details so close to the heart,

    Sir Me and my friends would use magnets on a sand pile and collect some iron filings,they were very small and granular that I now wonder how little kids knew these things.
    we used to collect those filings and put it on a paper and run the magnet from beneath the paper.Called it snake dance.Some dumb ones even used to play the snake tune by tapping on their vocals and shouting out loud!!!

    Broom sticks have many uses,some guys in restaurants clean dosa pan with broom sticks,YUCK!!

    Bow and Arrow is a common past time game,Dalda tins are so common,servant maid asks for it in the first place.Ofcourse sir,grandparents come up with much more better uses of it.Like storing milk packets
    But these days there is one more use sir

    “We can produce modern day music,you know,the JUNK YARD DRUMMING”.But those guys are too good!!!
    like this sir

    Hammmm,given a chance I want to go back to those days!!Thanks spinning the wheel in front of my eyes!!I lieratlly felt dizzy 🙂

    • rk Says:

      feels great to read your comments, sg! thanks for taking time out and sharing this link!
      PS: did you read the news that MS gold coins are available? You got to get one!

      Now gold coins in honour of legendary Carnatic musician M.S. Subbulakshmi
      A limited edition of engraved gold coins has been launched as a tribute to legendary Carnatic musician M.S. Subbulakshmi. A part of the proceeds from the coins will be donated towards cancer and diabetes research.

      The special gold coins, launched by jewellery brand Tanishq, are available in two, four and eight grams, and come engraved with an image of the Bharat Ratna recipient.

      “M.S. Subbulakshmi epitomises the rich cultural heritage of our country. Carnatic classical music forms an integral part of our tradition. This initiative is a tribute to this art form,” C.K. Venkataraman, COO, Tanishq, said in a statement.

      “It pays tribute to the evergreen maestro and the phenomenal contribution she has made to the world of music,” he added.

      Subbulakshmi, known for her mellifluous voice, was also known for her humanitarian work. She died in 2004 at the age of 88.

      So, Tanishq has decided to contribute towards her favourite causes of cancer and diabetes research through The Cancer Institute and the TAG-VHS Diabetes Research Centre in Chennai.

      The gold coins will be available across select Tanishq showrooms in Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad only.

      On the purchase of a gold coin, customers will also get a book of memoirs that captures landmarks of the iconic singer’s life.


      • samaganam Says:

        Sir,good lord!Wanted to share this story with you.
        Some say its a publicity stunt,but I think its a good move becuse they are saying that they want to donate it to charity.A gold coin of MS amma besides all other Gods is a great Idea!!Usually many products also offer such deals,like ariel donating to some cause or bournvita donating to education.I think its a good move.But she was such a great woman,such a true professional and such a great example for humanity.Did you see MS amma’s statue in tirupathi,sir?

        I think her achievements also speak of the people in those days.Dont you think so?woman playing Narad in savithri and people accepted it.Come on sir!!I can keep on talking abt MS amma.But thanks so much for the news.

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