November 27, 2012
DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed in this post are personal.
Television was an integral part of my life. I can actually link various phases in life with the programs I saw on TV.
Our dear old Doordarshan (DD) ruled for a long time. The earliest memories were of Ramayana and Mahabharata on Sunday mornings. The whole family used to sit around the TV and watch. Which was the case with entire India.
1991 ushered in liberalization. My parents reluctantly agreed to get cable TV installed in 1997. And then came the explosion of entertainment and information. Zee TV and Star TV. Foreign channels – Cartoon Network, HBO, Star Movies, AXN and Discovery. I Dream of Jeanie, Lonely Planet, Small Wonder, Friends and Fortune Hunter (my favorites in those days). MTV and VTV. 24X7 news channels.
It was all so exciting! So much to see and learn!
But slowly, the overload began. I would come home and watch TV to relax. Over the weekends, I would try to catch some good movies. But neither could I relax much nor could I get the high, the entertainment threshold was being pushed further and further. And creativity seemed to be reducing as time went on. In short, TV had stopped adding value.
5 months ago, as the south-westerly winds brought rains to the parched lands of India, our TV stopped functioning. Probably the moisture inside the set did it in. We tried to get it repaired, but to no avail. I breathed a sigh of relief. God had taken the decision for me.
Initially, emptiness and boredom reigned. But over the last few months, it hasn’t been all that difficult. I have been able to spend more time on reading, exercising and writing. Which doesn’t seem to be a bad compromise.
Dear TV, we had some good times together. But I guess, the days of you being a central character in my life are now over.
UPDATE: I have recently invested in some virtual real estate. The domain peacefulrestlessness.com is now mine!
August 16, 2012
Should books be categorized into stuff? Do they fall in the same bucket as furniture, clothes and other things?
This may sound a sin to most. In Hinduism, books are equivalent to the Goddess Saraswati (the Goddess of knowledge).
But where does one draw the line?
I too have a difficult relationship with books.
I have been reading them since as long as I can remember. Most of my house is filled with books (or was, after my recent attempts at minimalism). I like the smell of old books. I am attached to some, either because they were with me during a difficult or nostalgic phase of life or because I wish to revisit some passages.
But then, I can’t stop reading. And then the accumulation. Collection is a different thing altogether (a hobby for some). But the accumulation?
My last post generated tremendous traffic and provoked many, either by the content and/or the way of writing. It got mentioned on the book and blog review website Book Riot by the co-founder Jeff O’ Neal (Critical Linking August 9). It got tweeted by the likes of Tim Spalding (CEO of LibraryThing) and Amanda Nelson (a freelance writer from Virginia, USA). Seems like a lot of us go through the same dilemma.
If books are not to be considered stuff, then how to deal with them? Are e-books the answer? The thirst for knowledge is supreme, but what is to be done about the model which has an input but not an equivalent output? And how does an unsustainable model become a solid belief in our eyes?
On the other hand, is giving off books really selfless and holding on selfish? Do books signify something else? Or are books and their input/output too small a thing to be worth giving a thought about? Highly debatable questions, no doubt.
DISCLAIMER: All views are my own, based on personal experience.
August 8, 2012
One of my dreams was to have a home library. All my favourite books lined up on a shelf, stretching from floor to ceiling. A complete wall of books in a room, with sunshine streaming in.
But now, I have given up. On that dream. I no more wish a wall filled with books. And you know why?
It is a fake dream. That is what I never wanted. I (and probably you too) have been made to believe we want that.
The whole point of a book is to read and then learn and share. But it seems, the consumerist culture is dragging us in a different direction. We buy books and keep them for years hoping that someday we will read them. Or after reading them, we keep them on our bookshelves. And then we buy more. Isn’t the book better off being circulated among people who will read and appreciate it? And if not that, then at least being recycled?
My solution? No, not to reduce my reading. But instead to follow a more sustainable model. Borrowing. Renting. If buying, then taking quick decisions on whether to read or not. And after reading, whether to keep or not. Swapping books with others. And do you remember my previous attempt with clothes? Yes, I am doing the same with books. I am giving them away, whether to friends and relatives or to libraries and second-hand bookshops.
I have no idea if I will able to cut down to just a handful of books or so. But the verb “reading” is now definitely more important to me than the noun “books” or “bookshelf”.
I still wish to have the room with the sunshine streaming in. But the stagnating infrastructure? The books and the bookshelf? No, thanks.
The free space, the openness. That is now my cup of tea.
Have you all heard about the immensely popular and hard-hitting anti-consumerist videos – Story of Stuff and Story of Change? Do check this post on LifeEdited for access to them.
Earlier posts on minimalism