“I went to the bank and reviewed my savings, I found out I have all the money I’ll ever need. If I die tomorrow.” -Henry Youngman
Some of you may have read about the old woman in America who lived alone in a one-room dingy flat, wore tatters and ate leftovers given by neighbours. But after her miserable death - because she did not buy the flu medication - the cops discovered cash equivalent to Rs 2 crore stacked in a polybag hidden inside a broken almirah in her room. Thank God we are not this crazy in India. We may keep our houses shabby, wear the same pair of jeans for nine years without washing, cleverly get up to go to the washroom when it’s time to pay the restaurant bills when eating out with friends, and depend on grandma’s remedies or grandfather Internet for advice than visit a doc when ill - but at least we won’t stack our money in polybags. Polythene bags are banned in India. We care for the environment. And then we have lockers in the bank.
Anyway, he’s a friend and won’t mind me mentioning him here but he better understand how there is a limit to kanjoosi. And that limit is called common-sense. What’s the logic in buying something cheap when you’ll end up spending much more later, running around doctors? Here are some varieties of cheapskates or misers who are beyond my limit of common sense. Tell me if you agree...
1 Lovers of traffic jams: These people do have a slightly longer, but neater route to their office or home, but just to save petrol in going an extra kilometre, they’ll prefer the most crowded, marginally shorter route. And end up burning more fuel while the car is stuck in a jam or has to negotiate five traffic signals.
2 Missed call morons: Sarkar mar gayi while trying to ensure that the call rates remain the cheapest but then how can we allow something else to be the cheapest when we exist. We’ll not give up on our fascination with giving missed calls to people. Soch lo, the habit may make you give a missed call to fire brigade if the house is on fire. I remember many years ago when both incoming and outgoing calls cost quite a bit, a younger cousin of mine who lives in another city, had worked out a neat plan to stay in touch. “Didi, we talk every week and say practically the same things to each other. From now, I’ll just give you a missed call. One ring means my health is fine. Two rings means the studies, too, are going well. And three means I’m missing you. If there is a fourth ring, please take the call because it means there’s something urgent to talk.” Ha!, how smart is that? Ab toh woh bhi missed call nahi deta, because it’s so cheap to talk. Stop being a miser.
3 Wrapping paper recyclers: Abey, saath leke jaoge kya, those precious five rupees that you have saved by recycling a badly wrinkled gift wrapping paper. And what about the 20 minutes you spent in carefully peeling it off a gift you got so that it doesn’t get torn?
4 Penny pinching diners: These are friends who would probably count how many more spoons of food have gone inside your mouth than theirs, so that they don’t have to split the bill equally. I totally understand that in group situations, it makes perfect sense for some to shell out more than others because, let’s say, they were drinking while others were not. But to say that I hardly ate one spring roll while others had two each, is being one-tight-slap-stingy.
I could go on and on but the point is simple. It’s wise to be careful with spending, but never at the cost of your comfort, dignity, and sheer logic. Let me end with a joke I read somewhere:
An old man is on his deathbed and has very dim vision. He calls out, ‘Is my wife here?’ ‘Yes, I’m here,’ the wife sobs. ‘Are all my children here?’ he asks. ‘We are all here, dad. The entire family is here beside you,’ they reply, grief-stricken. ‘Then why is the kitchen light still on?’ he says, and dies. Memorable last words, no?
Sonal Kalra thinks if her ‘sour’ sweet friend ever falls off his building, he’ll go down shouting to his wife to keep the dinner in the fridge.
Mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org or facebook.com/sonalkalra13. Follow on Twitter @sonalkalra