Sunday, March 27, 2016

LESS IS MORE

Sometime in life you have to downsize.  If you have been a “collector” all your life it is indeed painful.  Every object bespeaks memories, at least for me. I have never been able to splurge on artefacts, as  I do believe that whatever you possess need not necessarily be expensive. A piece of craft exquisitively fashioned, moderately priced can bring the same amount of appreciation as any of the Lladro porcelain curios.
 I would rather spend on the home than adornments for myself. Spend on  curtains, cushions, table linen etc, the whole family enjoys it, as well as visitors to your home. When you buy expensive saris and jewellery, it is for yourself..If you surround yourself with objects that are beautiful to look at, it gives you unmitigated pleasure…right from the plates you use, the cutlery, the simple things like the salt and pepper cellar, your table napkins, durries, the list is endless.  When these items are priced less,  they are easier to throw away when they have outlived their looks and usefulness.
A good time to downsize, is when the children get married and leave home. It doesn’t mean you leave the home bare and devoid of any d├ęcor.  Just begin by bequeathing stuff you don’t use. The pain is less when you have children who would love to have things that you have enjoyed. They have sentimental value, and it gives you pleasure to see them installed in your childrens’ homes. Alas they don’t make the children like that any more.
Today’s gen have defined tastes their own, diametrically opposite to yours. There’s no marrying the old and the new, as we have done. For them, an ornately carved chair, or a divan with exquisitely engraved tiles don’t hold them in thrall.  If they are “antique” pieces passed on from your parents, they would, in a moment of weakness probably condescend to accept a couple of pieces not before breaking their heads as to where these would find a place in their modern homes. Their contemporary tastes would allow huge leather upholstered sofas, pristine white curios,  modern paintings which you don’t understand even if you pretend to…finally you reluctantly agree that your pieces of furniture and bric-a-brac would look incongruous in their homes. Sigh!
One strategy worked for me when we left our bunglalow to have it “reduced” to apartments. We labelled a large cardboard carton, “Throw”.  The second one was labelled “Consider”, and the third, “ Keep”.  The third carton got filled in no time, the second took next place and the first hardly rose to half.  Once I emptied the “Throw” carton, it gave me such a sense of liberation, that I delved into the “Consider” carton, and removed many items I had absolutely no use for. An old vermicelli press, antiquated coffee filters from various countries, umpteen gadgets, old pressure cooker parts, had no room in my smaller apartment.
The buzz word is “merciless” don’t give the discards a second dekho, otherwise you get swamped in nostalgia and regret. I can never throw away an old piece of textile, however tattered.  I have never spent money on rare saris, they happened to be very affordable when I bought them, and to me they are priceless, because I reinvent the designs, pass them on to my weavers and acquaint them with the colours they would otherwise never be familiar with. And as for wearable saris I face an impasse!
My children will not wear my  saris, not that they dislike them, but because their “occasions” do not warrant being wrapped in traditional wear. Wearing salwar kameez, palazzo pants,  or any kind of western wear, is admittedly so convenient, though I have been crying myself hoarse urging the younger ones to wear saris. Anyway I have made a firm resolve that any of my traditional saris that the girls in the family do not want, will go to a textile museum.
And the photographs, hundreds of them lie sepia coloured with age. Digitalise them  even if you can’t do it yourself, put them on DVDs and just dump the rest. It is heartbreaking to fling memories away, but you have to get on with it.
My husband decided to dump a large cardboard carton in the guest room much against my will. Anything unused would find its way into the carton. In no time it was full…would you believe it a junk man was called in and he gave us a thousand bucks for what I thought was rubbish! And this was three years ago. The money came in handy towards charities I support.
Every time you clean a cupboard, you discover junk to discard.  I have been inspired by my friend Sita a practical woman if there was ever one.  She lived alone, and when she reached the stage when she wanted to be cared for, and not bother about the household and cooking and servants, she set about executing her meticulous plan. Apart from the bare necessities, she threw away just about every item that she was not going to use hereafter. The “items” found their way into friends’ homes, the ones who loved to hoard these useful items for a later date. Ice cream churners, juicers, Rukmini cookers, whatever, and Sita achieved her goal of clearing her home. Moving became much easier.
And today we have Quik-r to dispose of stuff, but not before you photograph them, upload the pics on to their site and state the price you want for them. I decided to travel  the new route and placed my well maintained though old microwave oven up for sale. No success as I had probably quoted too high a price. It was so simple just giving it away to my kitchen help who is so interested in cooking and related gadgets. The joy on her face was enough compensation!
My modest library boasts of books on craft, textiles, food, travel, plays, computers etc etc. I generously offered my cookbooks to a young lady in the family who let out a polite no no. “When I can just type in what I need into the net, and get the most fabulous recipes what do I need cookbooks for?”  I asked myself why we cookbook authors bother to write. I am the biggest perpetrator of the collector- of- books crime.
My husband’s collection is relatively modest by comparison. He has an amazing collection of nuts, bolts, spanners, screw drivers, little nails, big nails, hammers of varying sizes and garden equipment, some of which will find their way into the bedroom…A handyman, who fixes so many things in the home, he will rarely go to  a hardware shop to buy the odd assortment of things.

I do hope this article tickles your conscience for throwing away rubbish, for that is what they become when they no longer have the same value that they did years ago. So get someone to empty your loft one by one, and enjoy the feeling of liberation when you reduce your wants as for most of us, less is more…