So after my urban-chick post I had a couple of follow-up experiences.
1) I interviewed a guy who is writing on paper on sustainable development. One of the ideas he is throwing out there is that maybe, just maybe, the time has come for us to go back to the values that have sustained man for centuries before consumerism became a way of life. Where that gaping hole in your life was filled with conversation with your neighbours or feeling a fresh breeze on your face rather than buying a new pair of shoes or even a packet of crisps you really don’t need to be eating. As much as it sounds like it, this was not one of those idealistic environmentalist type conversations. The guy is an economist and was actually embarassed to be saying something he described as ‘mushy’. But the thought remains.
And it got me thinking too. Maybe the fact that we/I feel the need to buy so many things all the time reveals not only a psychological unease in me but worse, is terribly harmful to the larger society. Because each of these unnecessary things is produced in factory somewhere with a huge cost to our planet and the price we pay for them does not take into account global warming, our lungs or overflowing landfills filled with last seasons clothes.
He’s not saying – stop it all but basically, just try.
I am pretty good about not taking cabs but I am pretty bad about buying unnecessary shite. I don’t know if this is going to change me long term but at least for some time, I will be seeing my frenetic shopping in a new light.
2) Yesterday we went to another outlying island in Hong Kong called Lamma. This one is more touristy and the village is filled with little kitschy shops which immediately endears it to tourists – who get both their ‘we are communing with nature’ and ‘um, what a cute bag’ fix. (yes, I am aware that the last statement contradicts in spirit the previous point but I didn’t buy anything! Ok two aromatic oil things but they were organic. I hope. Well, we really needed them).
Anyway, at some point I asked the other girls on this trip whether they would like to live on the island and they all pretty much said no. And then I blurted out that I found even a city like Hyderabad too slow and unfortunately then remembered one of the girls was from there. The thing is while I find Hyderabad too slow that doesn’t mean it’s a bad city, just that as another girl pointed out ‘there’s something wrong with you’.
That got me thinking on whether there was – something wrong with me. And I don’t think so. My problem with Hyderabad was
a) the slowness whereby people would take ages to process your bill payment or attend to you in a shop or even drive their rickshaw (not slow to rip you off by claiming they don’t have change or that their meter is not working though)
b) the lack of, well, interesting people and things to look at and think about. By this I mean:
i) people were not interesting to look at. They are largely boringly dressed. I know this sounds glaringly superficial and I don’t claim to be a fashion queen either but I like looking at people wearing interesting clothes. Doesn’t have to be the height of fashion but just interesting looking and bright. Or if it has to be black and white, then interesting looking. The reason I can live in Hong Kong is that I can just sit on a bench in the street and watch people go by and just looking at them is fun. Watching the world go by is much funner in city.
ii) the people did not have interesting thoughts. Their thoughts seemed to be preoccupied with the every day stuff and every day morality and every day cliches and because not much happened to challenge that, they could continue to think that same thought process. In bigger cities, unimaginable things are constantly happening so maybe that’s why even the housewives have to confront their own assumptions. That is not to say that the majority of people in big cities have the same kinds of mediocre thoughts as people in small cities or that there may be people with original thoughts in small cities except that it’s easier to hunt them down in bigger cities or that possibly there are more of them because there are more people in big cities.
iii) men are more patriarchal in small cities. And I really cannot handle patriarchal men. Women are safer in big cities – at least big cities like Hong Kong and even Bombay. I guess Lamma Island is not unsafe… though I think Hong Kong island is still definiately safer.
(I am aware that all the above might provoke vociferous reactions in readers from small towns. I didn’t mean point ii) especially to be offensive and I’m not perfectly satisfied with the way I articulated that. But I don’t know how to say it better).
3) We were sitting at a cafe and someone walked in with a dog. Not just any dog but a brown cocker spaniel. Immediately, I had to pet it. And it jumped on me. For one blissful moment there was a warm furry panting animal hanging onto my arm and I experienced pure bliss. And I realised how my life is not completely without a dog. And how I miss Zo and should I get a dog out here? I know that I would be able to look after a dog because I looked after Zo and she was the hardest dog ever to look after. But can I really? Especially since we can’t seem to look after ourselves properly right now. Anyway what I realised is that I cannot live a dog free existence for much longer. I don’t think a cat will do. And definitely not a child.