Every so often, I think about my growing up days. For me it’s like the golden period of my life – no worries, no tensions, happy childhood and wonderful parents. I go back recollecting my childhood memories irrespective of happy or sad occasions. Suddenly I would start narrating an incident to S and talk about it for hours together. It’s like leaving a piece of my life out in front of him – showing him the kind of life I had before he came along. S on the other-hand seldom talks about his childhood or he just sees it as a phase of life. **The few times he has recollected incidents from the past, he would have a listener with starry eyes in front of him aka myself 😀 **

Sometimes I wonder how different my life is today, compared to how it was from my childhood days. For the starters, we lived a defense community and with dad being the sole bread winner of the family, everything operated on a budget. Once a month, we all would go to the market – in our two wheelers also called as bicycles – to place the monthly grocery list. The provision store guy would know our list by heart and at times point out the items that we might have skipped. The sister and I would look at the different pulses, rice and other groceries on display – careful not to touch or taste anything. The groceries would reach home in a day or two, in a bicycle or tricycle and both of us would watch with eager eyes, the uncle unloading our groceries – not that it would have any specialties. One of the elders would tick each item from the list against the ones landed and after a final tally of the total items, the guy delivering the goods would get a 5 or 10. There were some delivery guys (uncles as we called them) who knew us and our home so well that they used to sit for a few minutes having coffee/tea. The human touch was predominant with this approach. Once the groceries land, it is up to amma to use them wisely. She has to ensure that they last an entire month. In the worst, she would have to make do with whatever is left – that is not obviously making a point that she is fantastic job managing the kitchen with far few stuff.

My dad used to go to the vegetable market every two weeks and come back home with bags of fresh vegetables. Weirdly, nothing gets sold at the market in grams or even in kilos. They use a special metric called “veesai” which is almost a kilo and half. You either get a veesai or nothing at all. Needless to say, even green chillies came in kilo and halves. Again, it’s up to Amma on how well she uses all the vegetables. Trust me, it requires planning to the micro levels to ensure there is zero wastage and that the vegetables last until the next shopping day.

All of us in our locality operated under similar conditions. And needless to say, shortages every now and then are not uncommon. On many days, I have woken up to our neighbor-close friend’s knock at the door – requesting for an onion or a tomato or a few green chillies and at times, even lentils. And in the same way, I have gone borrowing ice water, salt, sugar or coconut. At the next purchase, the borrowed commodities would be returned back and there was nothing to be shameful about it.

Cut back to today’s world, we seldom buy anything in bulk – be it the groceries or the vegetables. This inspite of having an extra-large fridge and a facility to store full pantry. We run to the super market any day during the week and buy in little amounts, as planning or executing is such a mammoth task. Even in our improved solution, we have to do grocery shopping on a weekly basis and thus, we seem to lose track of the money spent. I don’t think borrowing from neighbors is even a thing anymore. Instead of facing the humiliation, I would rather run down to the store. All this is beyond my parents’ understanding – especially with our weekly groceries shopping. In the worst case that something is not available, instead of making do with something else – the fact that we run to the store to replenish it right way, is something my Amma is still getting used to. The concept of budgets is getting lost and although we are frugal spenders, it bothers me a tiny bit that there are these contrasts. And what kind of image are we setting up for the next generation by showing that everything is available anytime of the day? Or how would our lives be if something is to go wrong (like the Chennai floods) to this set up?

This is just an aspect of the contrasts and may be I would come up with follow up posts. Share your thoughts as well J

11 thoughts on “Contrasts

  1. Quite true GB 🙂
    However, I, like my parents used to do in my childhood, still shop for vegetables & fruits on a weekly basis and for the monthly groceries once a month. Only on rare occasions do I shop for these in the middle of the stipulated time.
    As far borrowing from neighbors, I agree, it is a thing that no longer exists, especially in unit houses.

    • Ha ME, thats great 🙂 We get our vegetables on a weekly basis but groceries on monthly basis would never work for me. First, with our almost nomadic life I cant use up everything correctly. Its more of convenience which I forgot to cover in my post, but otherwise I would have to cut down on the number of times we hit to the shop nearby to get a quick one or two items.
      Forget borrowing, not many of us know our neighbors properly in Bangalore 🙂

  2. Very true! There are many such contrasts. Maybe we need to put in some effort to control it how much ever possible. I always feel this when we splurge money on clothes. Nowadays we buy clothes for no rhyme or reason. Sometimes we buy it just because there’s a sale on! Previously it used to be only festive occasions and those outings to shop with parents was such a joyful time! We are slowly losing all those cherish-able moments. 😦

  3. you took me back in time GB…it seems we shared a similar childhood 🙂
    Having said that, I think change is something which is inevitable; what worked excellently during those days might not work now conveniently. And as for the future generation we never know whats in store…so what I do is reminisce the past and enjoy the present day too without thinking about the posterity …after all, who knows, kal ho na ho! 😀

  4. GB, I am quite a bit older than you, and I am awed by your simplicity. I also consider myself a conservative spender. But today we are more pressured for time than money. So sometimes I buy or cook more than I need and may not use it all up and may have to throw away some of it. It is only with perishable items. When my mom or aunts from the previous generation see me do that they think that I am being wasteful. But I explain to them that I do not have the luxury of time they had to plan to the detail they could because that was their primary job. Now juggling a career, being actively involved in kids lives (very different today – we helped out our parents and now pretty much all parents do 200 percent more for their kids) makes me compromise on these little things and to me this is acceptable. There is no choice for me, something has to give. Otherwise we would only be making ourselves miserable trying to to perfect in everything.


  5. So true GB.. I am also bad at planning.. So I buy whenever the need comes. However, I still run to my neighbours when I don’t have time to run to supermarkets.. 😉 I have some awsome neighbors.. 😀

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