In the Refrigerator: Nothing Succeeds like Excess

One rather unkind piece that noted feminist — and academic/journalist — Germaine Greer wrote a few months ago for The Guardian spoke about “nothing succeeds like excess” in the context of Dubai. She was, of course, in a very subjective manner, talking about the glitz and the high-rises in the Desert Dream (it was one in a long line of newspaper reports that ham-handedly trashed Dubai for daring to think out of 
the bin).

By Sushmita Bose

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Published: Sat 11 Jul 2009, 12:13 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 1:01 AM

I am a big fan of Greer’s writings though I didn’t agree with most of what she wrote in that particular piece for The Guardian (having said that, I have to admit the article was hugely entertaining). But I agreed with “nothing succeeds like excess” — not in the context of the city, but in personal space.

More specifically, my own personal ‘refrigerated’ space.

Almost every other day, I throw out excess stuff from my refrigerator and, in the process, am using up plastic garbage bags in a rather reckless manner. If anybody comes over to my place, I try my best to stop him or her opening my fridge: if anyone, despite my best efforts, manages to yank the door open, he/she stares open-mouthed at the sight he/she encounters. For one, there is a long line of bread of loaves crammed on one shelf. Let me tell you why.

When I lived in Delhi, half the loaves of bread I’d buy would be, in any case, past the date of expiry. Besides, the black ink used to type out the dates on the plastic bag usually got so smudged that I could never make out anything. A loaf of bread would last me a week (as long as I kept it in the fridge — else, they would turn all mouldy): who cared whether it was expired or not?

Here, it is a bit disconcerting to not pay obeisance to the neatly-typed two-day long shelf life of a loaf of bread: it’s the first thing that hits your lineof vision.

Over three days (I even stretch the two days to three days, and live dangerously in the process), I have — at best — six slices of bread; there’s more than half the loaf left over, but I push it away in one corner and accommodate a fresh loaf.

It’s a vicious cycle, and is also extremely inclusive of bottles of milk I buy — all with three-to-four-day-long shelf lives. Bread and milk bottles take up a fair bit of my refrigerated space.

Obviously, there is more stuff on display. Like baby carrots. The moment I espy baby carrots in neat plastic bags on supermarket shelves, I think of going on a diet.

“The baby carrots dangle a carrot — the diet carrot: you’re supposed to see them and think ‘It’s so easy to go on a diet: that the baby carrots is classified diet food’,” one of my friends pointed out once. I agree with her whole-heartedly.

Till date, I’ve lost count of how many neat packs of baby carrots I’ve enthusiastically purchased from either Spinney’s or Choithram’s, knocked into my fridge, and harboured intense diet dreams: from the morning after, I will only eat baby carrots when I crave a snack, I think smugly.

One week later, I suddenly realise the baby carrots have probably expired and rush to throw them out before they induce fungal growth.

“There is too much to eat in Dubai, it’s a pain to actually start dieting in right earnest,” I justify my dumping tendency. “But soon, I will go on a diet and baby carrots will no longer have to suffer a natural death.”

It’s pretty much the same story with ordered-in food. At times, I call for an extensive south Indian platter from a restaurant down the road. It’s a lot of food and I decide to eat it over a couple of days at least.

But then, a friend calls me and we decide to go out for dinner, or I’m suddenly beset by an overwhelming urge to eat something else (like a pizza or a burger or Chinese or Pakistani or whatever), and the remnants of the south Indian platter continue to languish inside the fridge.

Three days later, I decide the food must have expired (after all, it was live food and supposed to have been eaten immediately), and it goes inside yet another garbage bag.

Yesterday, I accidentally opened my freezer section after a long time. I noticed a jar of strawberry ice-cream well into decay-mode, an extra-large packet of ice cubes I must have bought last year, and a bunch of frozen parathas (there was a sale going on: five packets for the price of three, so I naturally fell for the promotion) that looked distinctly chilly.

I gave Greerthe silent thumbs up.

Sushmita Bose is Features Editor, Khaleej Times. She may be reached at:

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