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Like Monisha from Sarabhai Vs. Sarabhai, I too, have multiple middle-class habits that I am proud of! Here are my top ten favourites!
Those in NCR I really hope the horrid haze clears. It’s most definitely a climatic calamity! Definitely not cool at all.
To my sisters elsewhere, “Morning! How’s life?”
However life is though, I hope there’s a smile on your face as you get ready to face it head on.
Me, I am in one of my fun moods today as you can see, so I decide to delve into this one topic I’ve been meaning to explore for a long time. Precisely a month actually, when I re-read an article on PeeCee – “Priyanka Chopra Jonas’ middle class habit she has held onto is probably every Indian ever.”
For the record, Queen P accepted that ‘Aachar’ (pickle) was her favourite and she had it with “all my food. I have aachar with sandwiches also. So, if you have a cheese sandwhich and you have aam ka aachar, it’s epic, like homemade aam ka aachar, you can’t have like the mixed pickle.” You go, desi girl! And we love you for it.
It was just so refreshing and immediately set me thinking. Yes, it’s true, we all have held on to some of our peculiarly middle-class habits. And I for one am quite proud of them by the way, even if they involve some A-one scrounging.
Middle-class anyways doesn’t have a clear definition and ranges anywhere between rich and poor. Rich and super rich we all know – they of the caviar, copters, Casablanca, champagne, carats, Chanel, Chopard and Choos. For poor, there’s a poverty line based on shocking minimum wages. All else apparently is middle class. The ‘Chandu ke chachaa ne chandu ki chachi ko…’ variety. That actually sets it a class apart.
We then are broadly the lot that is comfortable, hard-working, diligent savers and big dreamers. Among our habits then are these, yours may be similar or uniquely yours. Tell me about them in the comments.
In the meantime, I’ll list my top ten very middle-class habits, habits that I am not apologetic about. Habits that, come to think of it, need to be revived and flaunted in this commercial-insta age. They are so middle-class, they’re going to give K-Jo hives!
Girls, I’ve always bought clothes that are one or sometimes even two sizes bigger for my son. Kids, as you know, grow at a very random pace. The first time I bought him an expensive jacket in the perfect size, it didn’t fit him after only three wears within two months!
That’s when I decided this can’t go on. And I haven’t regretted my decision since. Works brilliantly, doesn’t look too shabby and gives me my money’s worth. I am a pro at it!
Well, I don’t have to go anywhere or join any cause to do this. It’s a habit that comes naturally and is very easy to apply at home. Yes, old towels become poocha, old jeans that fray at the knee but are okay otherwise become shorts. My old bed-sheets become dusters, old baniyaans are the best bathroom wipes and old pillow covers transform into convenient eco-friendly vegetable bags.
It’s the circle of life really.
Can’t escape this one and I suffer from it big time. Yes, folks, I am one of those moms that the “stand up comedians” always, always refer to. The one who stores her Shatabdi or Vistara Frooti, salt, sauce and pepper sachets, tea bags, napkins, sugar and even butter for ‘Kabhi kaam aayenge.’ And they actually have come in handy many times. So no regrets there too.
This most definitely extends to shampoo, lotion and body wash bottles at hotels we stay in. Come on, we’ve paid for those, so till you start going after the towels and hair dryers in misplaced enthusiasm, it’s all good. Peace!
I am a hardcore packet hoarder and my loot is all nicely folded and stacked – guess where? Of course under the mattress!
Fab India paper bags, especially the small ones, all gift bags that I get because as a policy I just don’t buy gift bags or gift wrapping paper, any good-looking bag I get I save for ‘later use.’ So you can be quite sure that the bag you get from me is a re-use!
I just love eating with my hand and at home it’s all squish, slurp and swallow! Super! Just love it. Nothing comes close to mixing my favourite arhar dal with steaming white rice and that pinch of fresh mint chutney!
I am not too much into achaar, though the home-made khatta-meetha no-oil nimbu pickle is my only addiction. In fact, I have it as sweet dish sometimes! I am that middle-class, Hola PiggyChops, let’s high five to that sister. Happiness is… being middle class and having aachar.
This is one of my favourites. Because of food allergies and peculiar preferences, we often theplas, khicdi mix along with the rice cooker and a whole bag full of food when we travel. It even includes ginger for our own room-made tea.
For golf tournament trips with my son I always carry the sandwich maker to quickly grill whatever sandwich we want. Be it cheddar and parmesan or home-made paneer tikka and roasted bell peppers.
Since we always choose hotels or rooms that have an attached kitchenette, our food bills are often superbly under control. Oh, and we never feed off the Minibar. Like never! I am not paying Rs 50 for a Rs 10 packet of Classic Salted Chips. No Sir!
So this is what happens, the middle class, as most of us know, typically indulges this one habit: eating fresh food. Phulkas off the tawa, fresh dals and veggies, steaming home-made curries and just mixed chutnies.
That’s all very fine but sometimes it’s difficult to maintain the ‘freshness quotient,’ isn’t it? We’re always running for tuitions, coaching, grocery, airport drops and pick-ups, hospital visits and PTMs.
So my day-old veggies become stock and soup and the ones that totally wilt and collapse go into my compost bin. That way my karma conscience is clear. Those veggies or bread slices or chappatis that survive beyond this, are duly fed to the temple cows and all is well with the world.
Once again no dabba that comes to my house goes waste. If it’s one of those sturdy Museli bottles, it stores dal or poha or packets of dalmot. If it’s the nice glass bottles of organic ghee, it stores badam or figs.
In fact, there a decoupage class happening next week where I will get to learn to “jazz up” my glass bottles. So excited. The dahi dabbas hold my painting brushes and water. And the cheese or butter cases in plastic are washed and reused to pass on cake slices or sometimes prasad and kheer to my housekeeper.
Similarly, the bottles of body wash and shampoos with pop up nozzles and bottles with spray nozzles are totally re-used too! I use them for hand wash liquid and home-made cleaning agents (a combo of vinegar+baking soda+detergent.)
Yes, I collect coins in my piggy bank to be used for the presswala or autowalla or handyman or mandir or any chutta bill. I go after them with a vengeance and you won’t believe how much my collection ads up to.
Honestly, I am not ashamed to admit that I always pluck off that “one Rupee” stuck on shagun lifafas before I discard them. Yes, I do. Kyon nahin? It’s money.
Men I have seen aren’t too fond of chillar which their batuas anyways can’t hold. So I am the happy repository of all those stray coins. Ka-ching!
Totally guilty of squeezing the very last drop of toothpaste or cream from tubes with the ‘comb trick.’ I am not going to tell you the comb trick, those who know, know. But those who don’t, Google it!
Ha! It’s a classic and many of us have grown perfecting it. Oh the joy of squeezing the tube dry. Brushing your teeth with the very last dollop of Colgate. It’s a skill and can only be perfected over time with due diligence and single-minded patience.
That’s that folks. My ten very middle-class habits. Very happy that some of them totally and utterly qualify as sustainable habits. While others are purely for my own satisfaction.
Love them, hate them, they are here to stay in my case and I do as much as I can to pass them on to my son. What about you? Do you have any peculiarly middle-class habit that you’d like to share?
A version of this was first published here.
Picture credits: Still from Hindi TV series Sarabhai Vs. Sarabhai
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