Let’s Try Not to Buy

I know why it doesn’t rain in Karachi that much – it’s because all the rainclouds are in England. 

I have yet to see a sky without clouds.  Even if the sun is out, giant fluffy white clouds are lounging about nearby, often closing in and darkening to send down a short spray of rain, just for fun, and then moving apart as if they had nothing to do with the shower.  There’s never a definite warm sunny day.  The rainclouds are always a head-turn away.

The weather is erratic.  But I do feel like it’s a special, magical moment when there is a quick spurt of rain while the sun continues to shine, and the rainbow that’s always there if you just take a moment to look for it.

It feels nice, kind of a peacemaking gesture from the gods, as if to say, we know it’s cold and overcast and it can get kinda gloomy, so here you go, a translucent arch of colours to brighten your day.I just have to remind myself to stop the grumbling for a minute and look up.

Thank goodness we bought umbrellas.  The £3 umbrellas are probably our best buys yet – that and the £60 washing machine we got from the pirate family.

The same washing machine that we installed with a minor flaw – ‘F-04’ the machine blinked at the end of its trial round.  Maybe that is code for end cycle in British English, I told myself stupidly and tried to open the door.  Locked tight.  And so I pressed the cancel button which is also inexplicably the ‘start’ button (I mean come on, that is one sadistic manufacturer) and started another cycle.
The button confusion explains one extra cycle but there is really no explanation for the next three cycles that started.  Just multiply stupidity and frustration by two because Fahad and I both intruded and somehow at 2 am, I woke to the sound of insistent beeping.  I went outside to find Fahad staring at a machine now full of soapy water sloshing in the drum.  ‘F-04’ means the water isn’t draining properly, Google told us the obvious.

The next morning we told the washing machine repair man we’ll check with him later when he told us it would cost – can you guess?  £60 to fix it, it’s really not a big deal! And then because we were going to London for the weekend we had to at least empty out the drum. Let’s just end the story on a positive note – the kitchen floor (where the washing machine lives) was given an incredibly good wash and mop.

It turned out the drain pipe has a small cork that you have to remove, kind of like the seal on a ketchup bottle you should peel off before you can squeeze the sauce out.  Anyways, that’s sorted out now and if you’re interested, it can take approximately seven hours to wash and semi-dry two people’s two-week laundry.

These days I am trying to figure out the balance between student life and but-we’re-so-much-older now life.  The see-saw is teetering more to the student side right now – the mirror we got still lies leaning against the wall rather than hung up by a nail that will definitely damage the rental walls, and the posters are not in frames but put up with blue tac.  I have long winding conversations with myself on but really, what do we really need?
The wise men and women have all said it – material things do not make us happy.  In fact, they make life cluttered and complicated.  If you have just five shirts, three sweaters, two jeans and two pairs of shoes – trust me, you’ll get dressed so much quicker. The fewer things you have, I realized when we moved into our apartment, the fewer things you need to store them in.

It’ll be an interesting experiment to find out how long we can survive with one saucepan and one frying pan, I had told myself when I was packing for England.  Well, not even a week because I bought one larger nonstick pot while picking up the essential red, yellow, brown spices from the Paki store. BUT after that, I have been surviving on three cooking utensils.
And we only have a four-unit cutlery set.
In a world without dishwashers, this is a blessing undisguised.  Since we only have a few dishes, we (and by we I mean I) can’t let them pile up in the basin because then we wouldn’t have anything to eat in.  So it is a win-win situation.

So far for two people we needed one narrow cupboard, a side-table drawer and a in-need-of-another-coat-of-paint desk to store all our belongings.  And the few straggling bags and leftover PJs simply hang over doorknobs and on top of a giant suitcase that we cannot seem to stuff into any corner.

With less stuff, it’s easier to restore order.  You cannot imagine the satisfaction I get from straightening the two brightly spiraled coasters on our bedroom window ledge and then staring at the perfectly angled clock, two perfume bottles, an orange picture frame and the two now correctly-positioned coasters: everything is in its rightful place and it is a beautiful peaceful sight.

You could say I have a problem and I would agree, but then everyone has a problem.  I would snidely point out that leaving a trail of dirty clothes in your wake and dropping ketchup all over your shirt is also a problem and we can stick to which is worse.

At the end of the day, sitting on my bed, if my pink postcard rests right in the middle of two stacks of books, it helps to remind me to draw a deep breath in.

The trick, of course, is to see how long one can lead an uncluttered life.  Because anyone who has moved homes (or even dorms!), knows that things have a habit of collecting.  We don’t realize just how much stuff we accumulate till we start to pack it all into cardboard, or maybe suitcases that have a 23 kg limit. 

It is smart to remind oneself to think before you buy (especially what with all these apps and online bargains and it’s so easy to pay, especially when you haven’t activated the SMS service your bank has…!).  Ask yourself: but do you need it? How badly do you want it? How often will you use it? And really, where will you keep it?

As for the little potted plants I pass by every day– I do have a place for them.  On the wide window ledge in the lounge, just above our ratty £5 sofa.  I mean, it’ll really liven the place up.  And I won’t have to pack them when we move – I’ll just leave ‘em for Steve, our next door neighbor (he thinks we’re the people who leave our trash bags on TOP of the apartment garbage bins but it really isn’t). 


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