Wednesday, June 27, 2012

who wants to be a minimalist?

My new favourite find is The Minimalists which I found accidentally while I was FB-ing. According to (my another favourite), the word, minimalist, means "a person who favors a moderate approach to the achievement of a set of goals or who holds minimal expectations for the success of a program". - what a lovely definition! However, this is not quite the Minimalist I am talking about. I am talking about the opposition of materialistic - free from things.

 Minimalism is the idea I always had in my mind - well, come to think of it, I guess I was just being cheap rather than minimalist. But being a 20 something girl lived in San Francisco where filled with overly decorated lovely Victorian apartments and pricey cute boutiques of clothes, shoes, and all kinds of meaningless beautiful home decorating goods, I wasn't successful at being a true minimalist. Still, I was able to keep myself from being too American - who needs KitchenAid when you can use your own fat to knead bread? My kitchen was in old-fashion way - the only automated crap I had were a blender and a rice cooker (so Japanese, I know). I knew I was leaving the city some time in the future, so I tried not to spend so much money for things I would probably bring to my new destination. Most decorating goods, like 20 frames on my wall, I got them from the street. Every single furniture I had was secondhand or my roommates' belongings. So I wasn't spending so much money for things, but still had strong connection with things.

Now, living in Bangladesh where everything is different from where I became me, I am a bit confused. Here, people are obsessed with "things" - mobile, TV, computer, air conditioner, microwave, stove, washing machine, cars etc. Those things are not available to everyone unlike where I am from. The richer you get, the more stuff they can afford to buy - therefore, the possession of those goods - no matter how bad the quality is - became a way to show one's social status. I have my own not-little apartment with bed, sofa, a few shelves given(rented) by my organization. And I bought a fridge, stove, oven, and dining table with chairs for myself since I love having guests for dinner. People always question me "why don't you but a microwave? Washing machine? Water heater? IPS? UPS? Air conditioner for god's sake?" - I said I don't need them. I can heat up my last night's meal on stove, wash my clothes in a bucket, use candles when lights are out, and fan in enough to cool me off. Then people ask me, "why? you have enough money to buy those!". I guess this is what our capitalism idea did to this peace-loving economically weak countries. But after living here for several months, I ended up buying a washing machine. Of course, it made my life easier, but considering the fact I survived without having it for months, did I really need it? At some point, I even thought of buying an air conditioner. The fact is that the washing machine didn't make me happier than before, and so as air conditioner will. I realized how important to think how we consume things and our money for.

Those Bangladesh people living in rural village share one bed room for whole family sharing a bed and cooking outside with neighbours. They have nothing fancy, but they laugh out loud all the time. For them, money should be used for going to hospitals, buying medicines, sending their kids to school, and occasional feasts to invite people. How simple and wonderful is that.

Who wants to be a millionaire? - not me.
Who wants to be a minimalist? - that's me!


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