Disclaimer : This one is a helluva long post, sort of a ramble, lot of contemplation, mostly a trip down memory lane. And for once, I wouldn’t complain if you choose not to read it 🙂
I don’t do sequels very often, but the last post deserved one, mainly because of the title I chose for it. Recently, I was thinking, if I were granted one wish, what would it be? Yeah, I keep asking myself irrelevant, slam-book type questions and then answer them for myself, mostly in long winding sentences, like I am at a Miss Universe pageant, or even better, like that is what I have chosen to blog about, I am jobless that way. Anyways, the answer for this turned out to be surprisingly short, I thought I want 2 Crores in cash, post tax and all, 2 crores of cash at my disposal. And then I asked myself, what would I do with it? And the answer was, I would invest it in something safe, so that I get regular income out of it. Did I remind of you Ross in The one with Lottery? Because I definitely reminded myself of him. Anyways. The idea was, a decent amount of money, without much effort, hence leading to having enough time to do other stuff I might enjoy, which migh pay much lesser, but make me happy.
So, it got me thinking, that by saying this, I am referring that happiness in a way, is directly related and proportional to the materialistic comforts I have. And what is unfortunate is, this is not how I always thought. The Dude and I discuss this point quite a bit. Especially when we are in one of the philosophical moods, which is usually Sunday evenings, popularly prefixed with ‘Depressing’, when we would have finished our quota of fun-things-to-do for the weekend, are all set for the dreaded Monday morning. When he is all depressed about rising home loan rates, or when we think of whether we should postpone buying the Plasma TV. That is when thoughts like this come up.
Ok, that wasn’t the point. The point was, I can trust my memory enough to remember if I was unhappy with my life at any point of time, whether I was dissatisfied with the kind of lifestyle we had, or if I ever felt less fortunate when compared to the more well off kids in my class in school. The answer is – No. I remember myself as one of the happiest, most pampered, and to some extent a slightly spoilt kid. My Dad has worked in the same Bank all his life. The first time I heard about his pay, was when I was told that he made 12k a month, of which he had to pay about 3k for the various EMIs, and so we had like 9k. every month to spend and to save. And I remember thinking, ‘Man that’s a lot of money!’ Both I and the Lil Sis got pocket money in school, 30 bucks a month, a rupee for each day of the month. It was a luxury, I could choose between buying a Kismi Toffee bar/ Aam Pachan on a daily basis, or save for 5 days, and buy a mini – Cadbury’s. It was a luxury.
Shopping for clothes was also an event. We would go to buy clothes three times a year without fail to Sindhi Brothers in Valley Bazaar. Those guys are amazing, they have everything. And the place isn’t huge, so you wonder where they dig it out from, but they have all the latest trends right there with them, at reasonable prices. Back to the shopping schedule, we would go on my birthday, on the Lil Sis’s birthday, and then for Diwali. It was always more than one pair, so all in all we ended up with 6 new pairs a year. Which again, was big, considering that, the only time you needed these were during the holidays. And I remember choosing with a great effort the places or occasions which deserved these clothes.
We would get new shirts for school every year, skirts every two years, and new school bags every two years as well. We never used second hand text books, got new pencil boxes and tiffin boxes every year as well. Only the Milton water bottles were used for a longer period. And I remember how happy I was when dad bought us the bigger bottles, which would hold enough water to last till the 8th period, without a refill. Mine was brown, with a cream cap. Lil sis’s was the opposite.
I got my first cycle, a Brown Atlas with the back support pretty early, when I was in second class. It had the supporting wheels too, and it was undoubtedly the classiest bike in the neighbourhood. When I was in class 9, I said I wanted to go to school on a moped. I remember it cost 15K. I got it within a month.
If Mom went to the grocery store, it was a mandate that there was chocolate, or jelly, or packets of peppermint waiting to be devoured. On days we felt like having icecream, we would walk down to the GayLords Parlour, and order what we had already chosen from the ad in the paper. Once we were slightly older, and started knowing about movies other than the ones on DD on Sunday evenings, we would start with a ‘you know there is a movie which is supposed to be good’, and then rush to the neighbour’s to get the Hindi paper to see where it was running. And if it was at any of the 4 theatres Dad was ok with, we would pile on to the Bajaj scooter, and ride down. And once we got too big for that, it was either the scooter and the moped, or our very dependable tempos in the city. And if there was time between the booking and the actual show (which invariably was, we always started much in advance, or didn’t go at all, Dad’s rule) we would go to that awesome kulfi place in Ghanta Ghar, and have huge plates of Kulfi with Falooda. Sigh.
Birthdays were a fancy affair. I haven’t had a single birthday where I haven’t cut a cake, and a 1Kg cake for that matter. It was always chocolate, till I swayed in favor of Black Forest. There would be yummy chaat and Chips for the friends who came to wish too. Eating out, required the presence of a special occasion. Mom and Dad’s anniversary was it mostly. And the place was ‘Marwari Bhoj’. I actually don’t remember any other place. And I used to love the visits. From the Jaljira with the boondi floating on top, to the saunf misri, I was always a happy content girl, with not a single wish which went unfulfilled.
Even when we grew up, the requirements grew, be it the frequency of shopping for clothes, the need for a Scooty, or money for treating friends for a birthday, we would ask, and we would get. And the sense of satisfaction just kept growing. It was always more than you could ask for, and you couldn’t ask for more.
And now, I am a grown up. I make my own money. And if we go by the income our family made so much out of in the past, what I started of with itself is really big. And together with The Dude, it just gets even better. And that is exactly what makes me contemplate about the level of satisfaction that I feel with the kind of lifestyle I lead today. In regular materialistic terms, it is infinitely better, everything is. Be it the area we live in, or how big our house is, or the air conditioning, or the number of shoes I own today, or how less we think before splurging a couple of thousands for a night out, or a dress from Chemistry, or the vacations we plan. Relatively, it is a lifestyle we couldn’t have dreamt of. Relatively, the monetary situation we are in now is amazingly multiplied.
But the fact is, the level of satisfaction is just the same. If happiness has increased, it isn’t the air conditioning in the house, or the car we bought which has led to it. It is just that there are even more people than before in my life who matter, and to whom I matter. And spending time with them any which way, fills me with a sense of satisfaction that no amount of money can.
So, philosophical, or saintly as I might sound, when I re-read the list I posted recently, and I see that somehow, most of the things I mentioned out there, don’t in fact need the 2 crores I wished for, I can get my happiness for much cheaper! Yeah, it might mean we’ll drive around in a bigger car, or finally be able to afford that vacation in Australasia, but it won’t do much in terms of adding to the happiness that exists today. So the next time I am faced by the same ‘one wish’ question in my dream pageants, I will have to come up with a more convincing answer. I, being the judge, won’t accept the 2 crores funda.