Of tomatoes and twenty varieties…

It’s amusing when you go to a hypermarket in Dubai nowadays.

When I was growing up, there was an apple, a banana, an orange, an eggplant…all fruits and vegetables came in one variety so you really had to choose between an apple or a banana which made things much simpler.

Today, there are ten odd varieties of apples. Bananas thankfully come in 2-3 varieties only, but then tomatoes? six-ten varieties of normal apples, and then there are the cherry tomatoes, the beef tomatoes, the ones from holland which come in a bunch and cost more than meat. And yes, there is the organic variety of each that adds an extra level of Christopher-Nolan type of permutation.

Of course, some just go by the price – the cheapest of the lot. Easy. But still this involves comparison of all these varieties just to pick a kilo of fruit. And don’t get me started on the eggs – plain, brown, free-range, omega-3 fortified, small, medium, large…gawd.

Why are we made to choose so much?

Some argue that choice is good – after all, the more the better – higher standards of living etc. In my head, we grew up just fine with one type of apple, so choosing among 20 isn’t going to deliver that extra volume of nutrition. If anything, one gets 20 varieties of pesticide and preservative if you go by how these are grown nowadays.

Brings me to something I had written a few months ago, around the same topic. Here it is, reproduced below.

Think about it!

LIfe was much simpler in the late 80s/early 90s. A lot less choices to make.

If you wanted ice cream, there was vanilla, strawberry or chocolate. Clothes? Shirt and pant pieces twice a year (birthday and Diwali), neighbourhood family tailor, wait for a week.

Channels? Doordarshan and then DD Metro, so two basically. Outings – Lalbagh, Cubbon Park (since I’m from Bengaluru), Handloom Fair once a year, else a movie and lunch/dinner once in a while.

Shoes? Naughty Boy shoes (yes they were called that) for school, white keds for PT class, one slippers, one “Action” shoe (the ancient-day sneakers). Cake? Only on birthdays and Christmas. Else “pastries” from the neighborhood bakery once in a while. Choices there too limited to black and white forest, chocolate and a couple more.

Chips? Locally-made. Noodles? Common, Maggi, what else?

Cut to present day. 200+ channels, 30+ OTT, and half of TV time spent surfing – searching for stuff to watch. Chocolates? A whole aisle of a mall dedicated to making dentists happy. Ice cream? Baskin has 31 flavors, but surprisingly no one eats vanilla. Clothes? Weekend sales, piles in the cupboard, and complaints of nothing to wear.

Outings? More malls than people, yet one has to deliberate on where to go, and that takes a while. Shoes? Don’t get me started.

Why do we have so much stuff, and yet feel miserable? How did we manage to get through the days of no mobile phones and internet? I can’t seem to remember what we did all day. How did we survive with less, and yet sleep well? Why were we so content then, and so dissatisfied now?

Maybe the problem is having plenty of anything. Things that we used to crave for, can be purchased instantly through Buy Now Pay (regret) Later schemes. So many movies and series on offer – so we don’t know what and how to choose. There are whole websites dedicated to helping you make a choice of what movie to watch this weekend. We just buy stuff when we feel low, or when we go to a mall, or just because.

Plenty is a curse, not a boon. Enough is what one should crave for. Not more, not less. Goldilocks – just right. Not too late to cut back. Think about it!