It’s called the modern-day age because of the modern conveniences, which have largely rendered obsolete or near useless the conveniences of yore. Like, for instance, the handkerchief. That 10-inch square piece of fabric was handy for drying your hands, wiping your face clean and sundry other things (you really don’t want all the ‘gory’ details now, do ya, of all the things a handkerchief did!) when one was out in the public domain.
The hand-wipes, or the hand-tissues, have made all those tasks for the handkerchief redundant. Come to think of it, when was the last time you reached out for the handkerchief in your pocket instead of a hand-tissue? It’s been years for me, and I am reminded of this every morning while dressing up for work when I realise that the previous day’s has been left untouched and unused. And so that continues for another day’s journey, and another day, till the trousers end up in washing!
You go to a restaurant, and you’re either at the mercy of a cloth napkin – if the eatery has certain pretensions – or paper napkins. Inside the washroom, whether at that restaurant, or at the work-place or any other place that’s not your residence, be sure to find hand-wipe dispensers. Even when ordering lunch in the office, I know there’s a pack of paper tissues in the office pantry from where I can pick up a couple of them. So in a sense, the handkerchief never gets to see the light of the day!
Of course, the quality of the tissues also says a lot about the times we live in. I recall at one of my previous work-haunts, we used to have those nice-feel hand tissues, double-fold and super absorbent that didn’t tear even when wet. Come the economic slow-down and those soft, ribbed tissues (yes, tissues also come ribbed, not just you-know-what – there’s a family audience for this blog and Kapil Sibal’s watching!) were replaced by those double-ply toilet-paper tissues, both for ablutions and for hand-wipe.
To be fair, the good quality tissues made a comeback once the economic downturn rescinded – in fact, when they made a re-appearance, we knew aal izz well!
The only time moi handkerchiefs come in handy is when I have those regular attacks of sinus, in transit between home and work and end up with a runny nose. Which is why it’s a good idea for any teary-eyed damsel to not expect me to proffer my handkerchief to her – gentlemanly grand-standing be damned!
Or maybe, next time, I will carry two in my pockets!