I had to go shopping for a pair of shoes recently. I live in Pondicherry which hasn’t got enough stores and choice and so off I went to the famed malls of Chennai. 15 minutes into the labyrinth and I was suffocating. It was the presence of all those stores and brands and things and people and it felt like one had been sucked into a vortex of money and greed and insanity. Of course most people will not agree with me and will say I have been living in my little village for far too long. Be that as it may, my point of this excessive commercialization which slapped me as hard as the air-conditioned air of the mall, is real. That many of us may have developed a convenient immunity towards it is quite another matter.
People need things – I get that. I needed my shoes. And someone needed to make them and then sell them. But regard this: the brand I sought had developed the technology I needed for aching feet but at a premium cost; for anything less than that, I got only the brand but not the technology which meant that while they admitted that most people suffer from aching feet because of bad footwear, they (a)continue to sell that bad footwear and (b) make it impossible for the masses to purchase the technology that can help them avoid this very basic, human ailment.
That is what hit me as insane and greedy. And the examples are all around us, in every form, in everything that we consume. They tell you that we are ingesting high chemical doses with our food and to go organic but when we go shopping for organic, everything is priced at four times that of pesticide-heavy versions. Green is in, but Green needs tons of green to get it.
India is happily munching on the consumer cookie set loose by the West. It’s fun as long as one can afford it. But it also has repercussions – for the local trade, for the local land, for the planet in general, for our own internal sense of balance.
The year is at its end – I know what my resolution for the New Year will be. It will be the same as it has been for years gone by – to avoid being wasteful. To try being aware of the choices I make. To regard the earth as my home.