Feeling good was good enough for me.

I remember walking around in circles in CP, sitting outside cafes for hours in New Friends Colony or Saket, sitting inside cafes for hours in Khan Market, sitting by a dead fountain in Nehru Place. I remember being lost and restless, anxious and annoyed. But I don’t remember ever being so bored.

Maybe it’s the city. It has changed its face. Everyone seems to have a new car that accelerates faster and honks louder, and makes their cock look bigger. There are no more Bajaj Chetaks. There are Puntos and Ventos, no more Padminis.

Everyone seems to be headed to the malls – the horrific, tasteless malls – to queue up for a 400-rupee cinnamon roll (Dal-chini, it’s called), or order a reassuringly overpriced bowl of authentic Thai hawker noodles. There is no chili garlic chowmein.

I’m not saying I have anything against prosperity or new money. I can happily consume a Hunan Claypot or a Thai curry every weekend (and I do). And I’m not saying the city used to be better when all you could do was go to Sagar Ratna (and I myself couldn’t afford even that).

What am I saying? I’m not entirely sure.

Maybe it’s just that I’ve grown too familiar with everything. Every street, every restaurant, every market, everyone. I know exactly what to expect. Anywhere I go, I feel like I have stepped on the crumbling pavements a million times before. I even seem to find all the faces a bit too familiar. I’ve probably seen them all.

Maybe I’ve become too comfortable with my 2-year-old job, my colleagues, my house, my laptop, my car and my smart fucking phone. With ordering a book online every week, eating out at the nice place every weekend, getting chocolate sauce added to my cold coffee.

Not long ago, my biggest dilemma was to decide whether I should splurge on an Auto ride or sweat it out in the bus and save money for a beer on the weekend. Now, I’m reading fucking car reviews wondering if I need electronically-controlled rear view mirrors. When did this start. Where does it end.

Which is why I’ve been thinking of this song. “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.” Maybe it’s true.

Maybe it’s better to be a penniless dreamer, than to have your dreams replaced by ambitions. To savour the cheapest drink on the menu as if it was your last, than to be be skimming through the wine list while your BlackBerry gently beeps.

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17 Responses to Feeling good was good enough for me.

  1. scout says:

    I said something similar to a friend a week ago. Instead of Janis, I quoted the oh-so-trendy Drums. “The less you own the more freedom you have”

    She wants more and more and more money. She thinks money means liberation. I told her that more money means more insecurity. You worry more about what you earn, how much more you could earn, whether that friend from school earns more, whether you should be eating at certain restaurants, wearing certain clothes, running with a certain ‘crowd.’ Having a lot of money means you don’t trust people to like you for you, you always second guess good intentions. It just sounds like a whole lot of trouble to me.

    Take the money and the perks and give me back the days of counting dollars for a pack of cigarettes. I was a much nicer person back then too.

  2. Srin says:

    Typical chronic discontent gripe.You don’t have to be poor to live poor. It feels nice to have money and it feels even nicer to have a choice. I spent a lot of money buying things when I first started working, then I had this same feeling that you have written about, so now I live frugally and it makes me very happy. Which is not to say I take a bus to work everyday or I smoke Flake or I don’t go out to dinner or that I don’t buy things, I’ve just lost the compulsion to spend money because I have money. I’d rather not do all those things you’ve written about because I don’t want to and not because I can’t.

    And hey, EVERYBODY you know is a superconsumerist? Thats really sad. Make some new friends.

    • scout says:

      Typical holier-than-thou comment. It’s great that you’ve found contentment in living “frugally” and have friends who aren’t “super-consumerists,” whatever that means. There is merit in what you say – you can just choose not to join the rat-race. I agree with that completely. But you don’t have to sound like a total knob.

      And regarding my comment – maybe it is just me who thinks that that’s what happens when you have way too much money, it is certainly how I would react. But I’ve seen it happen to enough people around me to know that it isn’t because of some deep insecurity unique to me – we can’t all sit around being zen about our pots of gold, pretending they don’t exist, bringing them out now and then to admire the “choice” we have.

      • Srin says:

        Scoutesh, I admit, on reading over my comment again, that yes, I do sound a bit of a knob. BUT yes, I’d rather have lots of money than be poor. Also, maybe its where you live. I live, at the moment, in a quiet place. And thats exactly what I do, I take out my atm receipts and admire how much money I’ve successfully not spent. 🙂

  3. Anouk says:

    @Scout – So perhaps if you seem to have enough saved up, you could, for a while, do something you really enjoy, and then go back to earning again. No?

    @Srin – The subject bigeyedfish is addressing here is that of sameness, not so much consumerism.

    @bigeyedfish – Sigh … the pangs of ‘growing up’. Bleh.

  4. Big Eyed Fish says:

    What, what did I say?

    Well, to me, ‘choosing’ to live poor doesn’t mean anything at all. Either you have the money or you don’t. Whether you buy an iphone or not with it is immaterial.
    Which follows from the point I was referring to, albeit incoherently, that having a bit of money changes your attitude, makes you more comfortable with the status quo.
    It’s not poverty I was endorsing (as I did try to explain). In fact, it isn’t about poverty at all, but a certain feeling of desperation, or insecurity. It focuses you, lets you forget the trivialities and forces you to change things. Someone more eloquent has described it as ‘the clarity of despair’.

    And by the way, leaving money in your savings account to admire it is not a great idea. You only earn about 3% interest. Considering inflation at 10%, you’re actually losing that beloved money.
    Just saying.

  5. Rick Ellis says:

    Meaningful dialogue! I’m just chiming in from out of the blue (Florida, U.S.) to say I appreciate it. I’m sitting here in similar circumstances, with lots of “goods” and little fulfillment, and the old Janis Joplin lyric “feeling good was good enough for me” came to mind. I typed those very words into my browser and – BANG! – I get plugged right in. Net power!!! Can I buy you all a drink? Oh hell, you’re on the other side of the world. Never mind…

  6. Srin says:

    And its that change in point of view that I addressed. All I’m saying is that you can hold on to that clarity even when there is no despair.

  7. Anuradha says:

    Wow *goes back*

  8. Anki says:

    oh the only fish i ever liked , except pompfret… how can u do thissss
    get out… get out b4 its too late…. still at a ‘job’ after 2 years… wat is this nonsense
    i left the minute the car and the malls n the lunches n the luxuries came… its the only way to be
    don’t succumb to the useless

    after 4 years of poverty ridden exile …. where i have indeed gone without food for days and coughed blood (bcoz of other reasons) ok im exaggerating but u get the idea… the torn old clothes and 100 rs chappals are as inspiring as Dostoevsky… and i get to live my dream .. even though its strewn with failures but if only i cud describe the feeling of this discontent … then u wud leave that sterile asshole of a dilli, the only microcosm of the evil of civilisation we all know of…

    we are all Sisyphus but atleast rebel with passion while u push that rock for eternity

    (sorry bout the rant but its once in 3 years no… n i just drank milk… u know real milk)

    • Big Eyed Fish says:

      I like my job. On most days.
      But yes, i’m sick of it.

      I drink milk every day. Probably why i’m fat now.
      Or maybe it’s just the city slowly shaping me into its image.

  9. Anki says:

    Oh n scout….
    Take the money and the perks and give me back the days of counting dollars for a pack of cigarettes. I was a much nicer person back then too.
    u still sound like the same nice person 😀

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