Sliceoflife: The lure of more

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Whether we need it or not, when it comes free, we take it

If you are an Indian, or if you are familiar with the Indian mentality, then you would certainly know about the paisa vasool logic. We Indians are particular about getting the best possible deal out there for the same price. This is not be confused with miserliness. This just means a little extra that you throw in, so that the customer feels happy. It means getting more for the same cost. If we have paani-puris, we wait for that extra seventh puri, the dry one that comes free. When we buy vegetables, the vendor usually throws in the curry-leaves and perhaps the green chillies too. Whether we need it or not, when it comes free, we take it.

The other day, I had an odd job that had to be completed. The ceiling mounted laundry stand, which moves up and down on a pulley fell down. It needed to be fitted urgently as we had nowhere to hang our laundry. Everyone knows that to get a carpenter for a tiny work such as fixing this is next to impossible. I tried an app which promised to get anything done with the tap of a few buttons and I thought my problem was solved when I got a call from a carpenter who promised to turn up. The appointed day came and went and there was no carpenter. He called me up again the next day and apologised for not making it, after which we agreed on an amount. He then asked if I wanted to add any more chota-mota jobs. I said I had no other jobs for him.

“Madam, there is no extra charge. You can get whatever you want done at the same cost,” he clarified.

I once again reiterated that there was no work really and he insisted on throwing in the little carpentry freebie. What could I do when there was nothing to be done, I asked him. I couldn’t possibly make him take apart a table and fit it back, just because it was free!

This phenomenon is not just limited to vegetable shopping and home repairs, but it seems to have found its way into gadgets too. A television salesman who sold a 56-inch state-of-the–art television to a friend, convinced him that the 3-D TV feature which the television manufacturer was offering, at the same cost was a great deal indeed. He also gave him the free 3D glasses, which are now housed comfortably inside the drawer of the TV stand, having never been used as there are no 3D TV shows in India or if there are, my friend has not yet heard of them.

In a movie that I watched recently called Win It All, a small time compulsive gambler Eddie (played by Jake Johnson), agrees to keep a duffel bag, for an acquaintance who is going to prison. The terms are that he will never look inside that bag and he will pretend it does not even exist. When the acquaintance comes out of prison, he will pay Eddie $10,000. It seems a deal too sweet to refuse and Eddie agrees. However, Eddie, unable to resist the lure of something more succumbs to the temptation and looks inside. He discovers a massive pile of money — wads and wads of cash, neatly rolled up. His plan is simple. He will take just $500, invest it, and he would return that amount to the bag, when he wins a large sum. That very night he wins $2,000, but you can imagine what happens after that.

Many a time, this wanting a little more results in us filling up our homes with things we do not really need, simply because they have come free. Some are unsuitable gifts, which we never really liked but we did nothing about. Some are things which were useful at one point, but have far outlived their utility and some are things that were meant to be dealt with, but which kept getting put off.

I am a firm believer that outer order contributes a great deal to inner calm. If the external surroundings are clean, well kept and organised, there if a feeling of general well-being and happiness.

No matter what goes out of control in your life, the one thing that you can control is the space you occupy. Fill it with only the things you need and see the difference that it makes to the quality of your life.

(Preeti Shenoy is the author of eight bestselling books,the latest being a fiction titled It’s All In The Planets)

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