There is nothing romantic about poverty. Trust me, there isn’t. I respect money, mostly because growing up, we didn’t have much. So every time people tell me how money isn’t important or how it can’t buy happiness, I nod along respectfully, though in my heart of hearts, I do know that it makes life a lot better. Let’s just say I would rather be rich and miserable than being poor and miserable. So yes, while money can’t buy happiness in the long run (neither can poverty), it works wonders for instant gratification!
Take my Kerala trip for example. The first time I went there, I was 11 years old. We traveled for 44 hours in the general compartment and by the time we reached Ernakulum, I was almost sick with exhaustion, dirt and pollution. The second time was a lot more fun, when we went from college (more details here and here), piling on a Mallu friend and the famous ‘Kerala hospitality’ ensured that the shoestring budget didn’t affect us.
But this time around, the four-day self-indulgence with all the luxuries just made me realize that probably money isn’t a dirty word after all.
So there we were, at The Leela Palace in Kovalam, soaking up the sun, the beach, the pool, the rejuvenating spa treatment, wondering if this was what heaven was made of, while I secretly harboured apprehensions of the next day, when I would be back home in Mumbai, in my one bhk pigeonhole masquerading as an ‘apartment’. I was used to it, but I was scared of how my folks would react to my minimalist existence.
But as it turns out, I had nothing to worry about. We checked out of Leela, boarded the flight, braved the peak hour traffic and finally reached my handbag (aka 'flat') in Powai. Obviously you can imagine the drastic transformation in a matter of few hours as I nervously welcomed my parents inside. They didn’t bat an eyelid, as my mom quickly took charge, sent me for grocery shopping and within an hour whipped up a sumptuous khichdi that only my mom can make, while I made my “delicious” chicken curry without any major mishaps. And there we were, just like old times, sitting on the mattress, newspapers spread on the floor, eating home-cooked food. As they relished the food, I stared at their happy faces more out of relief than anything else, deeply grateful. As we sat by the window in the dark, my dad smoking and both of us grumbling (much like the old times), he summed it up, “I have traveled all over the world, stayed in the most luxurious suites, tasted all sorts of exotic cuisines, but nothing beats this moment.”
May be there is something romantic about poverty after all… or may be it’s just the nostalgia!