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Blame it on wires

Book>> Enough, Breaking Free From the World of More by John Naish Hatchette, India Price Rs 350

 
By Robi Chowdhury
Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

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I gave myself a little pat after reading John Naish's Enough. The last few years, I have been resisting the temptation to buy a car. I bought a mobile phone after much persuasion from my family members, but have staved off all their entities to buy a microwave oven.

Actually I am being a little unfair. For much of the book Naish does not seem to be looking for easy answers--the kind I pat my back for. He knows escaping consumerism is a tricky business. At one point, he blames "faulty mental wiring" for his difficulty in resisting his weakness for vintage electric guitars.

I recognize this feeling. I have told myself a number of times I won't buy a new book, till I have finished reading the ones on my reading list--only to go back on my resolve in weeks, even days.

Naish would not fault me. For him, we are wired for dissatisfaction. Our wiring was useful in dragging us out of the Stone Age. But now forces us to work ever harder and longer. The eight-hour workday, a result of the late 19th and early 20th century democratic movements, seems an ancient relic in these days of 16-hour shifts. Result our need to accumulate possessions has created a wasteful, consumerist society. Naish demonstrates that we are stressed by information overload; suffer from lifestyle diseases such as obesity; lost in our own clutter to the point that the private storage industry is a cornerstone of the global economy.

Down to Earth Are we then doomed to burn ourselves out? Naish's solutions presented in dot-point form at the end of each chapter do not do justice to his research into neurology, marketing industry and history. To counter the lure of food, he suggests that we savour each mouthful and dine in small restaurants.

We should put each new purchase through a rigorous necessity test. He even gives us reasons to curb our desire for a promotion--very difficult to digest.

Haven't we heard all this before--from our grandmothers to run-of-the-mill self-help books?

Robi Chowdhury is a playwright based in Mumbai

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