Old Fashioned – a Photo

What do we mean by ‘old-fashioned’?  Is it praise or a pejorative term?

It rather depends on the circumstances, doesn’t it?

‘Fashion’ implies something which is of a particular time, the prevailing  custom at a specific era.  Something which will change as time proceeds.  Does the ‘old’ prefix indicate regret for things lost, indulgent observation of the quaintness of the past, or the dismissal of something with which we no longer have to deal?  Is it conservative, or antiquated, as suggested by the dictionary?

What about ‘an old fashioned look’, described by my OED as one of dignified reproof?  I think we all know someone who has perfected that particular ‘look’, and have clear memories of when it’s been projected in our direction.

Somewhere I had a memory that it’s also the name of a cocktail.   A few moments of research revealed only ‘a cocktail of whisky, bitters etc’, and as I have no need to make one, I looked no further.

But might it also apply to something that has endured?  Think of something that has been done in a particular way for years because so far that’s the best way to do it, and there are no real plans to change it.

When I visited the Khumbu region in Nepal  our path crossed with that of a group of Tibetan traders with a team of yaks carrying Chinese products over the mountains to trade at Nepali villages, like Namche Bazaar.

We acquired a very attractive pink thermos flask to save it the journey.

I understand that this form of trading has gone on in the same way for many years.  In a land of extreme climate and terrain, where there are no roads and only rough paths, in which people describe distance by the length of time it takes to walk there, the yaks have been used to transport goods and materials to market as the most efficient means of transport.  They eat what they can find, they follow where they’re told and they pick their way though the rocky paths and across the suspension bridges with no apparent complaint.

The men and women with them were hardy, leather faced and curious; at our meeting it was impossible to tell who was observing whom more closely.

Traditional, antiquated or old fashioned?

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