Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Kabari walla

Kabari walla

I was visiting my home country( India) and having arrived at the godly hour of 4 am was just about drifting into slumber land when suddenly I hear the shrill ear piercing shout, “ kabari walla- kabari walla, raddi paper, plastic, bottle …..kabari walla” ( Kabari wala’s are scrap dealers who buy your junk and sell it for a small profit to a buyer who recycle’s those and sells them for a bigger profit) . I suddenly sit upright , not knowing if I was dreaming or awake . It was the shrillest loudest voice I had ever heard. At a decibel level of over 100 he would put any soprano to shame.

I woke up cursing and tried to stuff my ears with cotton buds so as to muffle the sound and try and go back to sleep. All the squirming and stuffing would not take the sound out of my head and by now I was fully awake. I cursed the kabari walla and eventually shouted him away… I guess he moved away to more cluttered pastures !!!
But as soon as he moved away, I realized that I may need him after all. I ran down to chase after him and somehow managed to catch him as he was cycling away. He came right back with a big grin and his weighing scale. I asked my house hold help to bring out all the unwanted paper, plastic, bottles, tupperware and anything else that had lived beyond its use by dates. As the stuff kept appearing and the pile of clutter kept getting higher, the Kabari walla’s grin kept getting wider. He couldn’t contain his excitement and the look in his eyes said it all. “ My God , you had so much stuff you wanted to get rid off and you shooed me away! You must be crazy”.
He started sorting out the good, bad and the ugly and offered me a price. I bargained and got a bit more. Both, the kabari walla and I felt we had made a bargain. Both of us had big smiles on our faces.

What a service the kabari Walla provides. He comes right to your door step and takes away your unwanted items and actually pays you for it. In HKG I have to pay someone to take away my old stuff.

Contented with my days earning, I thought how wonderful it would be if a kabari walla could come by every week to help me de clutter my emotional life as well.
Lately I have met so many people who seem to be carrying so much baggage in their hearts and minds that they are clogging their life with it. We all seem to hold on to all the unwanted items and emotions very close to heart . We give it so much importance and are unable to part from it. Just as we hold on to the physical we tend to hold on to the emotional.
Clutter of any kind is exactly that, just clutter. Physical takes away room from our houses and offices and the emotional takes over our life. It prevents us from growing, from moving forward, from exploring newer opportunities and avenues.

Isn’t it time we all summon the Kabari walla to help us de clutter!!!

I found the following ways to help with emotional de cluttering.

Forgive and forget the past hurt and pain

As humans we all have been hurt and have inflicted hurt. No point in reliving every moment either in pain or in guilt. By holding on to past resentments and pain we block the flow of new energy and prevent ourselves from growth.
Often people are so bitter and resentful that they would rather carry the hate and pain than forgive.
As author and Buddhist meditation teacher Sylvia Boorstein says, 'We all have tucked away in our unconscious a little list of people who have hurt us in some way in our lives. And we keep the list even though they can no longer hurt us, as if forgiving them will give us amnesia, and we'll get hurt by them again.'
It doesn’t work like that. People can only hurt you if you allow yourself to get hurt. The moment you decide to forgive, you actually open channels for new energy that will help you to forgive.
Do not, I repeat do not carry unnecessary baggage and weigh yourself down.

Be thankful/grateful and move on.
Just as we carry pain, sometimes we hold on to our pleasure and stay stuck in the past, again disallowing the flow of new energy and new experiences. We reminisce about the good times and wonder if they will happen again. We twist and turn ourselves in knots over the past and ruin our present trying to recreate the past. Instead we should say thanks and be grateful for the wonderful time and get ready for a new experience. Every moment is a new experience, nothing can and will stay forever. Only change and impermanence leads to growth.

Write it down
Sometimes writing about our experiences helps. Instead of carrying all the baggage in your head, why not write it down. This way we can always revisit the pain or pleasure when we feel like it. However the one thing that happens when you write is that your brain sends the message that the issue has been tackled. It is now over and it then starts looking forward to a new subject to write about. I was very skeptical about this suggestion, infact when someone suggested that I write about my pain and then burn the paper, I thought it to be the most crazy thing ever. I tried it anyway , but the cynic in me was not ready to accept. Then one day I realized that it had become such a ritual that even when I was not hurting , I would look out for something to burn.
On the other hand, writing about my pleasure allowed me to relive the moment at the time of writing and then I was ready to write about the next. This way , my brain kept looking for things that would give me pleasure and it fine tuned me to look out for it. I started appreciating more and started looking out for more to appreciate. Sunrise and sunset, children playing in the park, a beautiful meal, all the things that we take for granted could actually be moments of pleasure.

Indulge in play ( scream if you have to!!)

Ever notice how children are so full of life and laughter. They are light in the body and light in the mind. One minute they are fighting and the next they are best of friends. They play , they fight, they jump, they scream and then forget about it. They might leave a few embarrassed parents around, but they have surely lightened their load. Go out , play with someone, get physical or find a secluded spot and scream your lungs out. It sure feels good. I used to do that while driving. Make sure there is no one around and then scream at the top of your lungs. Sometimes my daughter and I used to close all our windows and doors and scream into the pillow. Try it, it feels wonderful.


Sounds bloody difficult and it sure is. I always thought meditation was this serious exercise where you had to sit cross legged and FOCUS . I did go for a ten day Vipassna and almost died trying to keep myself from talking and trying to focus on nothing. Eventually , I realized that the whole exercise of meditation is not about focus, but about being empty .
Now that is another dilemma, how does one become empty? You become empty, by lightening your load and you lighten your load by setting it aside. All you need to do to start meditation is try to put all thoughts aside and FOCUS on what you are doing at that very moment. Let’s try…… when you brush your teeth in the morning, for those two to three minutes, just think of brushing, nothing but the movement of the brush, the taste of the tooth paste, the froth that is gathering and the tap that is running. Put all your attention on brushing your teeth. Do not allow any thoughts like children, breakfast, stock market, meeting with the boss, what to wear, etc enter your mind. They surely will, so instead of fighting them, allow them to visit, but then ask them to leave so that you can go back to tasting your tooth paste!
Of course this is not meditation, but what this does is, it gets your brain prepared for meditation. With regular practice of concentrating on brushing ( or any other everyday activity) your brain is now gets conditioned towards emptiness and focus. This way when you do decide to sit cross legged thinking about a dot or focusing on your breathing, you may be able to do so for about 8- 10 minutes without major upheavals . Eventually it does show results. If I could do it, anyone can. I seemed to have ants in my pants and could not sit still even for a moment, but now I do.

Do not gossip

Oooh now, that’s even more difficult than trying to meditate. Gossiping is in our blood. I thought that it was mainly women who gossiped, but I was quite surprised to find this to be favorite pastime of men too. Even Children gossip, its just that they don’t know it is gossip. Gossip is so engaging, it makes us feel important, we seem to belong in the inner circle as we contribute our share of useless information. All of us have indulged in this favorite pass time and sometimes assuaged our own gulit by saying something like “ Did you know that Sasha is having an affair? “ then we say, “Oh no , I shouldn’t have said that”. But by then we have created enough interest and then everyone wants to know what I know and they all add their two bits. Poor Sasha has no idea, that her life is being dissected and discussed with such zeal. Next time whoever meets Sasha, will have a preconceived idea about her and will behave according to his/her own judgment.

But hey, forget about Sasha, its you we are concerned about. Why burden yourself with information that does not concern you in any way. The more you gossip, the more useless baggage you carry in your head less is the room for something really worthwhile.

I could go on and on about these self help and de cluttering strategies, but then I’d sound like a broken record and you might think I am preaching. But these are really tried and tested remedies that have helped me with my own de cluttering .

Thanks to the” Kabari walla” I have now managed to lighten up my house as well. Next time someone comes screaming at you to get rid of your “Raddi” (waste), comply and be grateful. They are doing you a huge service.