Thursday, March 19, 2009

A Conversation With The Man With No Desires

A couple of weeks ago, it was that time of the year. Birthday. And I had this conversation my friend Rags, the Man with No Desires.

Me: So it's my birthday tomorrow, you know. I'm thinking of getting something I've really wanted for a long time.

Rags: What do you want?

M: A nice camera, something semi-DSLRish

R: And you want a camera because...

M: Always wanted one. I think there is a budding photographer in me. Some of the shots I took with Rahul's DSLR were awesome. Imagine what I could be doing with a little practice.

R: 3 things - First, there is something known as beginners luck. Secondly, any random shot with a DSLR looks good to a guy who has seen only point-and-shoot cameras in his life. Thirdly, those were awesome? Don't kid yourself.

M: Hey, that's mean!

R: Ok son, how much are we talking about for this 'little practice' sessions?

M: Around 25k. But it's totally worth it. I mean, you buy a camera like this only once, right? If I don't buy it now, imagine the number of photo ops I will be missing out on. And I'll be missing many years that I could have used to hone my photography skills.

R: So let me break this down - you want to take pictures, hence you want a camera. Good. But why do you want to buy a camera. You know I heard this kind of arguments from Raj before he bought his ultra expensive camera. He disregarded my advice and now it's gathering dust in his cupboard. Why don't you borrow it from him for a week or so? He will be more that willing to lend it to you. Keeps the moving parts in the camera working.

M: Hey, why do you have to be such a damp squib? I didn't ask you for objective analysis of the options available to me. I should have just talked to Badri. He wouldn't have spoiled my enthu with eminently well-reasoned arguments against buying a camera.

R: Son, haven't you heard of the recession sweeping across the globe? Trust me, you need the cash now. Buy whatever you want a year from now. Not now.

M: Hmm. You're right. I won't buy the camera. I think I'll buy an iPod. eBay has some great offers, plus they have given me some good vouchers.

R: Don't you see what's happening here? You've fallen into the consumerist trap prepared for people with disposable income like you. You really don't need anything. You just need to splurge on some gadget to feel good on your birthday. Go watch a good movie, go for a trek, have a good dinner, take a stroll on the beach. There are tonnes of stuff you can treat yourself with on your birthday.

M: Shit! I should have not talked to you at all.

So I ended up not buying anything for myself. Just like all the 24 birthdays before this one. I was seriously beginning to become one of them - people who think spending money on expensive and useless not very useful gadgets is justified just because it's your birthday. So next time you feel the itch to use your credit card at eBay, read this post.

PS: I just realized that if I applied this logic to all my purchases, I'd be living the life of an hermit. And Rags is going to B-school this fall. I wonder how he will encourage consumer spending as a future business leader.

13 comments:

Badri said...

You are a notch above Rags, you did not even do 'the tonnes of other things to do on a birthday', the dampest squibest squib I should say.

silverine said...

Your friend is absolutely right! It is better to practice with your friends camera and then decide on making the purchase. Dunno about business leadership, but he will make a great boss! I mean when I tell my Boss that I need a new Blackberry he gives me the same funda, that I will hardly use it and it will an additional thing to carry in my bag etc. And with the money he saves, he says he will be able to give me a good salary hike. I cannot argue that! Damn him!

thomman said...

Hey, I think I'm like Rags. :D You know, most of the 'luxuries' that people consider luxury aren't worth it, IMHO. I would go to beach on any evening rather than to CCD, anytime. :)

Nitram said...

First of, Belated Birthday wishes!
I would tend to disagree with your pal, mainly because i believe that the recession is mainly a thing of the mind. I believe that if you really, badly want to go for a new hobby, you should just go for it, irrespective of the advice you get!

Karthik Sivaramakrishnan said...

Argh! This Rags and your turnaround and the comments are oh-so-depressing!!

If I were in your shoes, I would buy the camera! Money is a means to an end, not an end in itself! It doesn't seem like you have a passion for photography if you said this in the end "I was seriously beginning to become one of them - people who think spending money on expensive and useless not very useful gadgets is justified just because it's your birthday."! Ah well, its too depressing to say much more. When I started reading the post, I was actually thinking you bought one and was preparing in my head a comparison between my regular canon S1 IS and some DSLRs I've seen. In any case, if you do have a digicam with a manual mode, trying using that to take good pictures. It has helped me understand exposure and depth of field and stuff better. It's actually a lot tougher getting good pics with a digicam in manual than getting the same good pics on a DSLR(I've tried my cousin's DSLR), for various reasons I won't go into now.

mathew said...

hehe..its the great dilemma!;-D
I have gone through this too..and have had the ocassional urge to buy SLR camera..but when I see the one which my ex-roomie bought for 800 euros and still lying idle in his room, i question myself whether I really need it or if I have the skills to pursue such a passion..yesterday I bought a canvas and some oil paint instead...atleast its cheap and I dont have to justify myself!!;-D

Philip said...

Badri: But you guys gave me a fantastic gift. So that evens things out.

silverine: I too tell myself Rags was right. The moment I feel he's wrong, I'll go and buy that camera. Till then (ie for another month or so), it's practice as you suggested.

thomman: I would hesitate to call a camera a luxury, for me, that is. I guess it all boils down to what you are really passionate about. I'm not passionate about photography, but have ambitions of taking a couple of good photos once in a while.

nitram: Thank you for the b'day wish and the solid advice. Wish you were there to debate Rags. But all's not lost. I think I should make the purchase around May-June :)

karthik: You've heard the story about the fox and sour grapes, right? I need to justify my non-purchase with theories like that :)

mathew: I think you'll develop the skill with use. But again it's a question of how much time you can spend and whether there's something else that you'll enjoy doing more with that time. Good luck with your painting :)

Rada said...

I think Rags is a true friend! :-)

You wonder how he will encourage consumer spending as a future business leader. The truth is, one doesn't have to be a big spender to persuade "dumb" customers to part with their money. Remember what General Patton said: Patriotism is not about dying for your country, but making the other dumb idiots die for their country!"

Sakeeb said...

I had gone through the same dilemma before buying my EOS 1000D. But I didn't wait till my birthday. I tried my friends S5IS for sometime, posted the snaps in photosharing sites, listened to peoples feedbacks and finally confirmed its real that there is a budding photographer in me.

Its more than a month since I bought it .... even after having a salary cut.. I don't regret it [:-P].

Philip said...

rada: That's a smart thought.

sakeeb: wow! EOS is definitely out of my league. I'll get there some day, I guess. Meanwhile, good luck to you and your camera.

Shrutz said...

:) Screw the money. You can't take it when you die.

Zahra said...

Hmmm...Rags does have a point y'know. Ask me.... I've got tonnes of stuff lying around that'll bring out the hidden gardener, cook, dancer, singer blah blah in me...someday ;-P

And belated bday wishes to you pal! :)

SidtheKid said...

Why do I feel that there is no Rags and its just the Phlipside of Philip?