Many years back, an old lady I knew got onto a wrong bus headed in a different direction. The merciless conductor insisted on collecting the minimum fare of 25 paise and asked her to get down at the next stop. The old lady would have none of that. She enquired with him how far she could travel for the minimum fare, travelled up to that stop and walked back a kilometer or two in the hot sun. She had paid the 25 paise, you see. She couldn’t get down without recovering its full value.
I find myself applying, pretty much, the same logic in trying to finish a book that I’ve bought for Rs 599/-. It’s a book on Asian history by Pankaj Misra and I felt that I ought to read it. Maybe I can use a snippet or insight gleaned from there and casually slip it into a conversation to impress my friends. But, alas, I find it extremely boring and am struggling to get past the first two chapters. Yet, I refuse to give up. Something in me tells me I’ve paid Rs 599 for it and keeps goading me to complete it, come what may.
The same stupid reasoning is used when we believe that we shouldn’t waste food served on our plates at home or ordered in a restaurant. Members of my generation, as we were growing up in a more frugal era, were strictly told that wasting food was not acceptable. What was on our plates had to be consumed. It was not just about the money. The previous generation had been conditioned in a ‘scarcity’ era and that mindset prevailed. There was a sense of guilt in wasting food when there was such poverty everywhere and so many people struggled to get a square meal. It took me many years to realise that eating excess food that one doesn’t really want is far more wasteful than leaving it on the plate. If in a restaurant, order sensibly. But if there’s more food on the table than what you need, just stop eating. It’s a far wiser thing to do.