August 11, 2003

Home Truths

One of the hardest things to get a grip of when you are living alone is the right measure of "how much". Ideally, it should be something as simple as half the amount of whatever you were consuming when you had a flat mate. Apparently, it is not quite that simple and even half a handful of rice that you add or subtract from the amount that is already in the cooker can make the difference between having just about enough to last you for two meals or throwing a considerable amount of it away or even running short if you happen to be in a particularly peckish mood.

Or take the case of vegetables, if you buy them in bulk, one or two items inevitably rot and get thrown away even without being used and if you buy too small a quantity you always run short at the most inconvenient of times. And it is not rare for me, even after almost twelve months of the solitary existence, to find half a packet of biscuits that I had earlier stowed away in the larder for consumption at a later date, only to forget about it. But the most ridiculous instance has to be the time when I had two large packets of detergent at the same time because I had forgotten to check before I went shopping.

Housekeeping is a great way to learn how economies of scale function. Cooking for just one person is not very cost effective if you cannot get it right. The more people you have to share the costs, the better it is, as long as everyone contributes. But it is quite a healthy way to live since you are cooking only to satisfy your own taste buds, So, it is not unnatural for me to start with something that is an Indian dish and then make it bland in the way I like and improvise later to add touches of Italian or Thai to it. Would you like your double omelette fried potatoes with salsa chunks?

But something I have come to appreciate and respect from all this is how women, especially housewives, manage all this. Keeping a house running is 24/7 operation, there are virtually no off days and there is always something that needs your attention or fixing and it is absolutely unthinkable for me to imagine adding kids and a job in the the equation. I for one would certainly lose my mind if put in such a situation. Hats off to them! But there are the bright sides too, to have a nice organised place in which you can live just by your own rules is a huge huge plus that makes all the hard work worthwhile.