When I first learnt about anthropologist Verrier Elwin’s perspective on Indian tribes as specimens of primitive culture worth preserving in the ‘museums,’ I was flabbergasted. Why on earth would anyone preserve men in museums? My curiosity led me to explore this subject further. An insight into the lifestyle of the Indian tribes familiarised me with the concept of minimalistic living. Going by the literal meaning of it, it means living an egalitarian life with the bare minimum–a roof over your head, three meals a day, two pairs of clothes and one pair of shoes. Isn’t such a life hard to imagine?
Taking a backseat on my couch, I thought of all those people I come across daily. My day begins seeing the domestic help–her hands soaked in freezing cold water doing her chores in the morning. For her, the minimalistic lifestyle is a compulsion, not a choice. It is ironical to see my car washer, a wealthy farmer owning and travelling in an exorbitant luxury car, wash my sedan. He works despite being free of monetary obligations. His idea of a minimalistic lifestyle is fetching contentment. The security guard in my building follows a self-made norm of saluting me twice a day. He sleeps in his makeshift cabin and hardly gets any chance to spend time with his family back home. Once I popped out of my car and offered him a better work opportunity at my old workplace. With a joyful glare in his eyes, he gently refused it saying, “My family and I are happy with my work.” The most bizarre of this lot is the person I’m married to. Given a toolkit and a dead circuit, he will spend hours or even days fixing it. If the world was to come to an end, the only thing he would probably keep would be his toolkit to pursue his passion for giving life to the dead circuits.
As we see, the minimalistic lifestyle is purely based on an individual’s approach to life and cannot be propagated as preaching. As the needs and personal interests differ, the paths differ too. My inspiration comes from the car washer, who doesn’t think twice living a life he wants to. It is not an ascetic life he follows nor does he lead the life of a rich spoilt brat. Instead, he breathes pleasure day in and day out. Doesn’t that sound beautiful? Imagine life as a puzzle in which the accurate placement of every piece gives immense contentment. My experiment with these pieces–as pointed out below–has shaped my perception of a minimalistic lifestyle.
The space I have set up is a replica of my dreams. The placement of my mattress on the floor gives me an unhindered view of the sunrise across the mountains dancing to the tunes of the chirping birds through my window. The open space devoid of gadgets and appliances welcomes the tiny sparrows.
I’m a passionate writer, whose words quest for originality. My reposeful style of working keeps me away from the typical rat race. It fetches me enough to fulfil my rudimentary needs and follow my dreams.
My dear ones often laugh at my ways of refreshing myself. They call me a ‘lazy stroller’ walking bare feet on the wet grass amidst the fragrance of jasmine flowers. There is so much to explore in nature that cannot be comprehended by sitting in coffee shops.
Two chapatis along with pulses are my all-time favourite. Times when I crave for spicy flavours, I take a quick bite at the local roadside vendors, who bring with them the flawless taste of their native region. Nothing can beat their flavour, not even the extravagant dishes of posh hotels. Their food cooked with honesty, passion and hard work increases my appetite for a fulfilling meal.
A rickety journey into the rural areas reminds me of my childhood drawings depicting a rural set-up with children playing under the sun. The roads leading to the shacks of local entrepreneurs revive the child in me, who treasures every little moment in those raw and unfinished handmade artefacts.
Being spiritual is a personal choice. It is an insight into my good and bad states of being, analysis and cure for the same. It is a moment of silence and speculation, which doesn’t need to be vouched for in the presence of an idol, a holy book or even a place of worship.
I don’t lead a life free of obligations in its true sense. Neither do I detach me from all the comforts and luxuries. Yet, finding pleasure in every little thing I do, is immensely fulfilling like the perfect placement of jigsaw pieces in the never-ending experiment.