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