Electronics and electrical items these days became essentials in our lives. Many years ago, having a television was already considered as a luxury of a whole village. Almost all villagers will gather at the owner’s house to watch TV at night. Today, a home may house two to five or more televisions – one in each room.
I bought a television recently – a 50 inch Sony smart TV. I actually ordered a 48 inch TV and only a few minutes after that my friend announced on our Whatsapp friends group that she has a TV to let go at a much cheaper price than what I ordered. So I took the offer. I was at a family gathering and rushing to get home so my cousin asked me, “What’s the rush?”
“The dispatch is here to send the TV,” I said.
“Wah buying new TV la… where’s the old TV? Pass to me then,” he said.
“I got no TV at home… that’s why I am buying one!” I said, surprising almost everyone. My Dad has a small TV which he watches in his room so I will join him in his room during news hours. At our living room, the old heavy TV box was beyond repair. I never got a TV until recently. To many people, TV is an essential and it will make jaws drop if you are without one.
DVD Players and other electronics
What is a TV without DVD, VCD, Blu Ray players? Speakers and amplifiers could be an add-on to the list. Perhaps a pay TV box like ASTRO. Unifi or any Wifi routers add on to the list of essentials. How can you live without Internet these days?
I am satisfied with a TV and DVD players. Speakers do not make any difference for me – I can’t differentiate sound that comes out from the TV and from expensive speakers.
I remembered my uncle was the first in the family to own a mobile phone – a big whole box where you carry around. The picture above explains. It was heavy and only meant for men, girls couldn’t carry such heavy box to go around. Then the same uncle owns the newer version of mobile phone – we called it the “water tumbler” because the antenna prodded out like a straw for a water bottle.
Today, many of my family members have 2 to 3 phones and sometimes cannot do without both handphones with them.
When water heater was first introduced in Malaysia, many people thought it was going to be a failed business. Malaysia is humid and we see the sun everyday of our lives in the country. Now it became an essential item at home. I have no water heater at home until now. I recall that I boiled water to add on to our pail during rainy days but the last I did that was 2 years ago, most days I prefer cold baths. My mother’s house (my parents divorced so they stay separately) has water heaters at all bathrooms and can’t do without. As far as I can remember, none of my family members do not have a water heater at home, all except me.
When my family members from our hometown visits us, no one chooses to stay at my home.
“Hah? No water heater? How to shower?” was the normal reaction.
I am particularly afraid of cold. I can stand heat and love sauna sessions. I think partly due to the long hours under the sun when I was in school training foot drills for competitions. My aunt said that my uncle once said he couldn’t stand the cold temperature but after installing the air conditioners for some time, he now couldn’t sleep without turning on the air conds. He has 4 air conditioners at home.
My Dad disliked the air conds too but after two years not staying with him, as I shifted back to stay with him, I saw a new addition in his room – the air cond!! I was once proud of my frugality and always tell people I do not have an air cond, no water heater and even TV at home. I also installed another air cond at the living room recently, for the comfort of our guests who come occasionally. I still do not have an air cond in my bed room, still prefer to sleep without air cond.
When I wanted to buy a vacuum cleaner, my Dad would scold asking why I was so lazy to even sweep the floor. I explained that both of us have sensitive nose and a vacuum cleaner could do better than a broom. He opposed.
Two years I was away, and when I shifted back to stay with him, guess what. A new addition in the store room – the vacuum cleaner. I am not sure of other homes but this item seems to be an essential for any home now.
I have a Japanese table – with no chairs, obviously. I sit on cushions or on the carpet. I have a bench at home which was something left to bring home from my office. I bought a bean bag recently for its mobility. So, at my living room – I have the mentioned Japanese table, bench, bean bag and to add on – an altar table, TV cabinet with TV and the players, a bar table with 2 bar chairs and a display cabinet.
People coming to my house would spot a missing “essential”! “Why no sofa? How to sit?”
I sit on the floor and have many many cushions for my guests too. However, many cannot do the most essential thing – sitting on the floor – anymore! Almost everyone who came to my house could complain of the discomfort having to sit on the floor. Rising from the sitting position remained difficult to many people. Our furniture has created new ways to sit and we almost forget completely that the most basic seat was only the floor. Sofa was a luxury but not anymore.
Clothes and shoes
When I was growing up, I wore pre-owned clothes. My aunts would pass down all the baby and children clothes from one home to another. Even the eldest in my generation had to wear clothes passed down from another family. Having a baby in the family means scouting around for clothes among family members to see who has kept old baby clothes. Buying new clothes was a “luxury” that we children looked forward during Chinese New Year. Today, we buy new clothes for all new born babies and at times too much clothes till the children have no chance to wear because they grew up so quickly.
I remember complaining about wearing old clothes until when I grew older knowing that there are people in the world without proper clothing. My aunt taught us to be frugal and how she would buy clothes only when there is a sale. Buying RM10 for 3 pieces of T-shirts was a norm in my house. After all, you only need to cover your body. As children, we were dirtying our clothes while playing all the time anyway!
School shoes will last from the beginning of the year till year end. Sometimes if the shoes are better, we wore it to the second year. That was considered a luxury. At that time, we try buying the cheapest but most comfortable shoes. A pair of shoes normally cost us RM29.90 at Bata. My first shock was looking at Nike shoes priced at over RM100 and always wonder how people will buy such expensive shoes.
Today’s children own a whole cabinet of shoes. Buying sports shoes worth RM300 and above seems to be a norm. I too have 3 pairs of shoes ranging from RM100-RM300 for different usage.
I still keep a frugal habit. I have clothes I wear for more than 10 years. Many people cannot believe this. I met Anas the other day, wearing Zubedy t-shirt. His first speech was, “Wah wearing Zubedy t-shirt. So old la the t-shirt.”
I clear my wardrobe every year, giving out those old clothes to charity, keeping only those needed shirts. Yet, those clothes still stuffed my little wardrobe which I always have gratitude to have so much to wear. The charity home or those organisation collecting recycled items would stop collecting clothes. They showed me the reason. I went to their warehouse, they opened up a store room – high ceiling say about the height of a one-and-half storey home, huge room about 600 square feet. The clothes they collected would stuff that room to ceiling high, one big pile right in the room. They have nowhere to give out the clothes.
I still have new clothes – t-shirts given during functions and events, new and still kept in the plastic bags. If I were to throw away a t-shirt, it will mean it is really weary and old or torn. Thus far, no one complains that I wear the same shirts every time they see me. My friends who see me often will immediately know I have a new shirt because they see me wearing the same all the time.
Now I only buy new clothes for work – as a professional emcee, we need to work and wear professionally too and I only do this once a year.
Food is definitely an essential. During hard times we survive on leftovers and appreciate so much that we have just ENOUGH to eat. Today, as I clear the refrigerator monthly, I tend to throw out a few expired items. As I clean the kitchen near Chinese New Year, sometimes I scold myself for buying too much and needed to throw away a bottle or two of sauces, expired canned food or food kept too long.
My Dad would prefer a small fridge, my mom would prefer a big one. My cousin has 2 refrigerators at home. At any point of time if you need food, open the fridge and you may find a whole month supply of food in it. I make it a habit to clear the fridge frequently to avoid food wastage. That was why I sometimes posted on Facebook photos of food I made using whatever I could find from the cold box.
How life has changed…. Let us give thanks and be grateful for whatever we all have now, all these were considered luxuries in the past. We are really living in luxury.