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, 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 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 of giving life to the dead circuits.