Daily Reflections

How much do you really need ?


Krishnan’s mini-surgery has forced us to stay in Gurgaon for three more weeks than planned. In the process of getting Krishnan to be pain free, we have realised a few others things as well. As we have been living in Bangalore, we have left behind just one set of vessels, a few cups, plates, ladles and spoons. The kitchen is almost empty, we just buy the provisions we need and cook . We brought a few clothes that we needed for a couple of weeks. Yes, the sweaters and jackets are all here since Bangalore doesn’t get as cold, so we are well protected. Our beloved books are here and that’s it …. The fact is, we haven’t missed anything !!! We haven’t missed the TV, it has given us more time to talk amongst ourselves or meet friends or go out for long walks, we haven’t missed the dozens of vessels in all shapes, or the boxes filled with condiments, grains etc, or the many clothes that we have. The truth is I haven’t missed even my costume jewellery that I usually wear matching the color with the color of my sari.

The hard fact is – we all have a lot more things than what we really need. The Eskimos have a great tradition which I am planning to adopt, every new year eve, they review all their belongings and keep only those that are essential and give away the rest. Their homes are amongst the cleanest and they don’t need huge storage to keep their things. As far as books are concerned, Krishnan and I have shifted to e-books mostly, saves space and paper. It’s not a viable option for everyone, but create and sustain libraries. The best times of my growing up years were spent in libraries, I haven’t missed reading a single book because we couldn’t buy it, as I got it from the library. Encourage your local library or start one in your neighborhood. It’s also a great way to teach children the value of sharing and the value of saving trees. There is a library that has been set up within the condominium complex that we live here and we are planning to give away most of our books to them.

I still remember living all alone during the last 18 months of my college, I didn’t have a TV, no fridge, no washing machine and no radio even. Jobs had not invented the iPod or iPad then and we were still working on computers with green monitors ! Very special days, of trying to cook Rajma without soaking them overnight :):) and buying two loaves of bread for Vidya and I, and ofcourse a staple diet of Maggi, Marie biscuits and tea. I had very few vessels, even fewer things and clothes and I bought books in the Koti weekend market or the second hand book stores or went to the college library. You really need very little to live well.

This New Year has started well for us – important message at the start of the year reinforced – you need very few things to live well, you just need your loved ones and friends with you and time to enjoy a walk or gossip with friends. Switch off the TV, keep a few essential things and have fun in being light and easy. The planet will remain green, if only we didn’t hoard and lived simply.

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9 replies »

  1. Nice message. Sometimes, these truths bring themselves up in the face of adversity, not during times of plenty. I dare say that; with the exception of perhaps children’s education and medical costs, a household can still run with a fraction of the money that we make. I have spent a lot of time pondering over this and it does seem like we continue to hoard stuff that we don’t use. Most times, this is to just be a part of the “circle”. Tyler Durden said it best – “we buy things we donโ€™t need, with money we donโ€™t have, to impress people we donโ€™t like.”

    • Love the quote, sums up the message neatly. “We buy things we don’t need, with money we don’t have, to impress people we don’t like”. It’s triggering off a thought in my head for the corporate world. :):):) thanks for sharing.

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  2. I just started this tradition of giving away stuff I don’t need. It is amazing what one considers essential at different stages in one’s life. I now have a less cluttered cupboard (but not book shelf) and a whole lot of happy people around me to whom I gave away clothes and jewellery. My music school now has the most enviable collection of Carnatic music that was collected over 3 generations while I have two iPod classics. More importantly, my music travels everywhere with me. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Waiting for the weekend to resume the exercise.

    • Thanks to Steve Jobs :):) music can travel in mini size with us everywhere. Giving away books is always a struggle for us. We gave some away but cannot give away some, even if they are available in the electronic version.

      Aruna, we work closely with an NGO called Goonj and they just recycle and redistribute all things that you don’t need. A great institution and an awesome idea. Do look them up on the net.

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  3. Well part of the problem of being attached to unnecessary possessions is that as a culture, we have been nurtured with a ‘scarcity’ mentality. We invariably acquire many things today, in anticipation of the usefulness in some distant tomorrow. In fact we are conditioned to assume that when that tomorrow really dawns, we will certainly not be in a position to acquire that one item that will save the day!

    Many of us are now waking up to this fact that you have highlighted and realizing that excessive clutter is also one source of stress. Now how successful we will all be in de-cluttering our homes and our lives is a question that defies a definitive answer.

    Interesting post there, Bindu.

    • Thanks Anand. Excessive clutter is certainly a source of stress ๐Ÿ™‚ I am in the process of giving away a bunch of my fiction books to a library, its certainly tough to let go of them, but it does create clean spaces and I anyway can read them electronically any number of times.

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