I’ve written before of my hatred for moving and everything associated with it – packing, decluttering, unpacking, the dust, the boxes, the general inconvenience – so it won’t come as much of a surprise that when I decided to move to India after nearly 12 years in Singapore (more on that decision in another post), I was not looking forward to the actual moving bit. Now, I have moved around within Singapore, but shifting countries brings with it a whole new challenge, a lot less freedom to do it in parts, and basically involves a lot of decision-making, which is just not my strong suit.
Anyway, a lot of melodrama later, I was in Bangalore, in a new house that my parents had found while I was still wrapping up in Singapore. It was a rented place, but it came with a lot more furniture than other owners were offering, so we readily took it up. The only things that weren’t provided were appliances, so there was no fridge, no washing machine, no microwave, no toaster – nothing, basically, that ran on electricity. While we were deciding on how best to acquire all those items (we were wavering between having them moved from my parents’ house in Coimbatore and buying them second-hand), we were also stuck in a long process of getting internet set up in the house. All this meant that for about two weeks, we were living the simplest, most-appliance free lifestyle any of us had lived in a long, long time. In fact, we were dangerously close to living the Amish lifestyle.
It’s not surprising that in the last 10 years, technology has become such an integral part of our lives that it’s almost impossible to think about life without it. I mean, I don’t know what I’d do without wifi. I know that just screams “millennial” (and don’t get me started on the whole millennial stereotype), but it’s true. I can’t imagine life without the internet. And yet here I was, not just deprived of the internet, but also things I’d taken for granted since I was born. Without a refrigerator, we were making and eating food immediately, we were carefully calculating quantities so we wouldn’t have leftovers, and dairy was becoming a royal pain. (This would have been the perfect time to ditch dairy completely, but we couldn’t live without our tea. We may have been going Amish, but we weren’t going to be barbarians.) Without a washing machine, we were washing clothes by hand. BY HAND. I think future generations will probably evolve with lesser hand strength because of the lack of opportunity to exercise those muscles by wringing water out of clothes. We spent an entire weekend with a colouring book that had barely been touched since it was bought, because without the internet, we could do nothing but talk to each other and spend time away from all kinds of screens.
So, yes, we all had a new appreciation for the simpler ways of life at the end of those two weeks, but I won’t lie that when our appliances finally arrived (we’d decided on having them moved from Coimbatore), we were all VERY relieved at the prospect of finally buying vegetables in advance, at not having to spend hours hunched over dirty clothes in the bathroom, at just being able to stare mindlessly at a screen again. We had been yanked back into the 21st century, and we were all grateful for it.
So, of course, the very next week, we were tested again. What use is a fancy two-door refrigerator, an automatic washing machine or fast internet when you don’t have power? Because of a problem with our power bill, our electricity was cut off, and because it took a while to fix the issue (I’m still getting used to India working at a different speed than Singapore), we had to spend an entire day and night with no fans, no lights, no way to charge our phones and no way to use pretty much 90% of the things in our apartment. That night, we cooked and ate by candlelight, hurriedly moved perishable items from our refrigerator to a neighbour’s, talked a LOT, and slept with the aid of hand fans.
It was an adventurous day, indeed, and I think it taught me about how much we take for granted in an age where everything is available to us very, very easily. It taught me to be prepared, to focus on the bigger picture (not being able to use wifi becomes very immaterial when you have to go to the bathroom by torchlight) and to appreciate the little things.
Also, pay your power bill on time, because the Amish life is only fun when Weird Al Yankovic is singing about it.
P.S.: Hello and welcome to the A to Z Challenge! I feel like I’m in over my head this year, but I always feel that, so let’s see where this takes us, shall we? 🙂