A growing minority of people are shunning consumerism and embracing material sparseness, believing ‘Less is More’
By Athar Parvaiz
A pair of shoes.
Two pairs of jeans.
Half a dozen kurtas.
These sum up Mumbai based content manager, Hardik Nagar’s summer wardrobe.
Espousing minimalism in India, Nagar, who is proprietor of the blog That Indian Minimalist, turned minimalist in 2013, when restless with his life, he stumbled upon intriguing material on the topic on the Internet. Testing the waters with a ‘Packing Party’ (packing up all your belongings in suitcases to test which suitcases you won’t open for a duration, leading to the conclusion that a few things are all you need).
“Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of everything that distracts from it. It is a highly personal journey that forces you to identify and articulate your highest values”
Joshua Becker, USA; Author of The More of Less
“I packed all my belongings in five big boxes. After a month, I noticed I had opened only two boxes to use things I needed while the remaining three were untouched,” Nagar says, while sitting on a lone bean bag in his sparse office, with only a sofa set, a table and a bean bag. Three years on, Nagar has fully adopted the life of a minimalist in a country which, according to him, “aspires to extravagance”.
“To people who think minimalism is only for the unsuccessful and the poor, I want to cite the examples of US business magnate and philanthropist, Warren Buffet, and Indian business tycoon Azim Premji, who despite being billionaires, are known to lead simple lives”
Hardik Nagar, Mumbai; Blogger at That Indian Minimalist
Nagar grew up in a middle class family which, he says, like the rest of the middle class, always believed in buying expensive things to impress people and keep up with the Joneses. “When I first told my mother I wanted to be a minimalist she was flummoxed and my friends thought I was in dire financial trouble,” says he. To those who think minimalism is only for the unsuccessful and the poor, he wants to cite the examples of US business magnate and philanthropist, Warren Buffet, and Indian business tycoon Azim Premji, who despite being billionaires, are known to lead simple lives.
Not as “hard core” as Nagar but still a minimalist, Namu Kini, founder of happyhealthyme, an organic food retail store in Bengaluru, frequently practises shopping fasts and hosts zero waste birthday parties for her daughters, where gifts or usage of disposables is verboten. “I would like my life to be richer in experiences rather than in possessions,” says Kini, who admits that although not a fervent consumer she does adhere to the creature comforts life has to offer.
The concept of minimalism is particularly popular in Japan wherein more citizens are imbibing the concept derived from the term ‘Sisso seihin’, meaning ‘Stay humble and poor purely’.
Tokyo based photographer and writer and owner of the Japanese blog, Minimalism.jp, Naoki Numahata, is actively disseminating the idea. Author of the book ‘Saisyogensyugi’, meaning ‘Minimalism’, Numahata says he was profoundly inspired by an article he read about an old Japanese couple. “The old man’s philosophy was ‘Less is More’. He said “owning many things is stupid”,” says he.
“Capitalism and Consumerism have no benchmark as to when one has purchased enough and can finally stop. When is goal?”
Naoki Numahata, Tokyo; Author of Saisyogensyugi (Minimalism)
“Minimalism makes me notice why I love things like camping, hotels, travelling and the sky. It’s because spending time without my “favourite” things is so comfortable and liberating. That’s why I like the park and nature. When I was young, I spent so much time near the ocean, surfing and free diving. I felt so much happiness. But I could never figure out why I felt like that in those surroundings. Twenty years later, I got to know minimalism, and now I get it,” elaborates Numahata.
According to him, Capitalism and Consumerism have no benchmark as to when one has purchased enough and can finally stop. “When is goal?” asks Numahata, referring to the bottomless nature of consumerism.
Across continents, in Arizona, USA, for Joshua Becker who lives the life of a minimalist along with his wife and two children since 2008, minimalism has been a journey of discovering the abundant life is actually found in owning less. “Minimalism removes many of the mundane tasks (organising, shopping, cleaning, etc) that rob us of daily excitement. Minimalists consume less resources and discard less resources. And that benefits everybody,” says Becker, who has written four books on the subject, including ‘The More of Less’ and ‘Simplify’ and has a blog, becomingminimalist.com.
Nagar of Mumbai has taken it upon himself to spread the idea of minimalism in India. But Bijay Anand, a TV serial actor, who has also recently turned to minimalism, opines the concept can cut no ice with people in countries such as India. “I think it is not likely this concept will catch on fast in India. This country is arguably too young and just born to the game of materialistic headiness and acquisitions of major brands. We have only just tasted the drug of opulence and it will be a while before we start heading out for de-addiction,” he says.