Dirty money

Lets face it. Eventually everything boils down to money. EVERYTHING. Yes! there are so many arguments against it, but lets remove money/earning power from the picture. We would all be living like animals, fending for food and needs on a daily basis, without plans and motives and dreams. Money makes it all happen, doesn’t it?

But like everything good, this dirty old man comes loaded with trouble; trouble to make more and more, trouble that you will never know how much is enough, trouble that you may never want to part with it for anything or anyone. There is a scrooge in all of us, may be not in the evident misanthrope way; but we all have troubles parting with the moolah we made from sweat and blood. We make exceptions, but that is again selfishness that acts; is it for a close kin? Is it someone dear who needs it? Should I be lending money to friends and risking the feel-good friendship? There are so many orphans in the world, I can’t really do much now, can i? Ya, so I pass by homeless people everyday, I can’t give my money to some stranger? Do i get tax benefits when I donate to this organisation?

I am no Samaritan. I am smitten by almost all of it too. I was simply making a statement and was wondering where it is all headed? And then I threw my hands up and wondered; pestilence, war, stock markets and greed have always been there. And Samaritans too in each of those eras. And when you take a step back and decide; ‘Ok I dont really need that new diamond set simply to boost my ego. I will give away that money to someone in need of it’ you are judged by the world for not being a family care-taker. To be always a good Samaritan, you must have no familial bounds. And if you simply care only for the family or yourself, you are a scrooge in the making. So how does one strike a balance? When can one say I have stored enough for a rainy day, I can share and part with the rest for the needy? And if all of us wait to be Bill Gates to get there, we can forget about playing the part of Samaritans in our life-times.

That brings us back to the very definition of money; sitting dirty, waiting to be touched, wanting to be parted in barter for worth, pride and inflating ego. And giving it away without returns is a gamble in itself, for you cannot be foolish to wait for a Samaritan to help you when you realize you can’t fend for yourself, for you were busy playing Samaritan!! A terrible irony in itself? Isn’t it?

Here is a piggy bank plan I had learnt from a friend when I was twelve – She would never spend on the sippups or candy everyday like most of us, but indulge once in a while when she really lets greed take over. No surprises, for the very same reason, we all thought she was weird. Instead she used to save the coins on days she didnt feel the need to give into greed. She said, she saved it for a rainy day. I dont know how she used it, but I do remember her piggy bank was heavy by the time we were fourteen, while most of us had proudly escalated to treating ourselves at the bakery already.

Imagine everytime you crave an indulgence that’s not at all necessary, and you ask yourself, if you really want it? If you can proudly happily say No to that, why not save it for a rainy day or someone’s rainy day, in a separate piggy bank that grows untouched? But, I bet it takes more than just determination to get there; for it involves fighting urges to ego boosting, peer-pressures and letting sound judgment and want to help take over. That in itself may take a life time for many, I am sure! Someday, I hope I can get there as a natural act, without doubting if it is infact perdition and misanthropist like. Someday, I am sure, one must rinse oneself of money, for money after all is always dirty!!


Domestication – A Diwali story

It was eons ago; my cousin (lets call her Apple for now, for lack of a better letter ) and I were visiting a temple in rural kerala. Like most pilgrimages; [ now that I recall, almost all my trips in kerala were pilgrimage ones.. I digress] this one too was a family and extended family trip crammed in a rented Sumo, listening to yesudas fill the space between car horns and incessant banter in loud pallakad tamiz. Now that we had reached only the fifth or sixth temple for the day, the elders scuttled away to catch the glimpses of ‘deep-aaradhanai’ *, while Apple and I retired. We were seventeen and not in any hurry to love God at the moment. We had Engineering college crowds to look forward to, sharing giggly girly stuff and making fun of everyone we knew, basically being mean teenagers.

After what seemed like a few hours, the junta emerged to reprimand the two of us for being ‘us’ and not spending enough time praying, for we were only one day through the 3 day trip and we were already acting like nonchalant moles.  It was the day before diwali and the kerala countryside was in peaceful ignorance. Here is a little known truth – Contrary to the desi declarations to the eye-popped gora “Diwali, the festival  of lights is the only festival celebrated all over India”, Diwali is not the festival of mallu-land. If it is popular now, it is simply the influence of bollywood and kollywood dappankoothu and in no way due to the lights-factor or devotion for Ram. It is however, respected in sufficiency by the pallakad iyer community and as a mark of that, my family was making temple visits that year!

Finally we had made it to the modest home of somebody for the night before resuming the road trip at 5 am the next day.  Apple and I didn’t bother to understand the distant relation and were quick to find the minutest things to laugh our hearts off in giggles of course. And suddenly like an unexpected bomb scare, we were part of an unending tirade; So here was the daughter of that somebody, we were spending the night at, who was the same age as us, but.. ( Now that a big but..) who was coy, dressed in dhawani, wearing pottu, bangles et all, beautiful and serving us ladoo and murukkus that she made herself; and better still was getting engaged in a year and was a rank holder!  Until a few minutes back, enjoying the ladoo and murkku, Apple and I had cracked wicked jokes about the girl marrying someone with the funniest combination of south-indian names and having kids in quick succession and imitating her to distraction.

Probably vileness doesn’t go unnoticed and the elderly began the embarrassing bashing of why Apple and I were.. well.. what we were and why cant we learn a few things from the girl. Stories of their teenage, early marriages, the ‘addakkam and oddukaam’** were also lavishly thrown in and even though we were in salwars, fitting nonetheless, we were made to feel like we were in beachwear and behaving like we would in Florida. And even if there was some chance of us befriending that perfect-girl, it was absolutely bleak now.

That night was a mixture of goody-girl-lectures and a careful fall asleep before we hit the road again feeling. Fresh and famished on the diwali morning, again dressed in frowned upon-salwars with bangles-less hands, Apple and I had decided to act as cool as possible and blissfully overlooked miss-goody-two-shoes.  And by the cow shed, the somebody of the house was talking to the eldest among our junta – “ adellam ok maami. City na problem taan. Domesticate pannungo”***… We had a mix of umbrage and laughter, for we had no clue if domesticate was meant for the cows or the beach-girls.  Well I may never find that out; so that was that and we were glad to have yesudas fill our eardrums with guruvayoorapan praises for the first time!

Then Engineering happened, Apple and I went our separate ways, shared many common moments of confusions, falling in and out of trouble, experiencing the world on our own, married and probably still discovering things at our ends of the worlds. Amidst this turn of events, even with all the lack of ‘domestication’ per se, I think we did fine, although not perfect.

So, a few months back I found out through word-of-mouth that miss goody shoes wasn’t all that goody afterall. She had eloped two years after her engagement and the rest is well history. That’s when I rung Apple and we had recounted that terribly good diwali eve, laughing till we had tears or like Monica Geller expresses – I laughed till, little pee came out! That’s when apple concluded – “Guess what? I am actually making ladoos for diwali and may be I’ll attempt murrukus for next. OH dear! Now I know what domestication feels like”

A very Happy Hearty Diwali everyone! Try to keep it safe and errmm… domesticated.  🙂

* aarthi

** characteristics of a docile nubile

*** Its ok. its the problem with the city. try to domesticate.


What have you done for the world today?

The trick or treat weekend was a breeze; had a lovely time at the party and followed it with a peaceful Sunday, catching up on Dexter and taking turns when the bell rings for the tiny-tots and grown-up kids! So the comments I received varied from “You guys are the best neighbors. You are letting us pick!” … “Glee!” and he turns to invite a battalion hiding behind the trees  “they got Reese and Hesherys… come on over” and sometimes just tiny ones, barely able to climb the stairs, weighed down on a fairy outfit, mumbling a thank you. Amidst them all, was one little fellow, probably 5 or 6, looking very harry potter like in round frames, who requested for his water bottle be filled. I am sure, he probably didn’t fully understand why he was doing so, but this is what he told me “There is so much candy in the world anyway, I wish the more poor get it. I just want water to keep me from being tired as I hop from one house to another with my friends.” I was stumped. He takes a sip and adds with a smile “Its for a green world you know”. While all the transformers and supermen were grabbing at my candy basket, this boy stood his ground!  Lovely parenting I must add and who said kids aren’t the best teachers?


So when I recovered from that, here are  somethings I decided/am hoping to work on –

* Don’t visit malls when bored, especially if you are the kind who can buy stuff you later realize you don’t need. ( I have fortunately developed a phobia for malls, so I am grateful that’s on check )

* Do not shop unless you really really really need it. So your sole is like a sock touching the ground, you need a new pair, but not when there are 5 others waiting to be worn. I used to be a shoe fetish; I havent bought a new one in four years now and counting! Same goes for clothes; wait to shop for new ones, until over 50% of the ones you own are un-presentable.

* Fight the Starbucks craving. I am still working on it. I read way too many articles on the consumerist jingoism a Starbucks nation is creating. I don’t want to be a part of it. I have decided to fight it a different way. I have given up on coffee. I succumb to an occasional masala chai at home. And I am hoping I don’t fall back. Fleeing the aromatic coffee machine in the café has been my nightmare for a while!

* Don’t overdo the birthday and anniversary! Hopefully I will start off on that this year. Chuck the cake and presents. Make a donation for something in need of that money. Why should the birthday be any different when it comes to “buy only what you need”. N and I aren’t big on the anniversary ever, so that’s taken care off with customary KFC takeout! Everyday of married life is a different kind of celebration, isn’t it?

* When you have had a heavy meal, skip the next one. this is a health tip too. But, on a larger scale, its fighting the greed. I haven’t been good at it so far, especially when we make the NJ trips we end up hogging heavy and heavier meals. So, the next time I will make the attempt. On a similar note is not wasting veggies or let food go bad and throw them. I have been working on it extremely well, since amma’s visit. ( Watching “cloudy with a chance of meatballs” may also put you in perspective )

5 seems a good number to begin with. And pinning them down and putting a seal probably makes it more real! Consume a little less. That is the first step to a better world, don’t you think?

Hobbes nails it !

An awesome link to keep that spending on check —