Monday, 17 June 2013


Have you seen all the #firstworldproblems memes? (Why can I never remember how to pronounce that word? mee-mee.. mem... mey-mey... Okay, it's meem.)

For those who haven't yet come across this phenomenon, it is basically 'frustrations and complaints that are only experienced by privileged individuals in wealthy countries. It is typically used as a tongue-in-cheek comedic device to make light of trivial inconveniences.' (According to know your meme)

Like this:

Or this

But what the first world doesn't know is that such privilege is experienced within certain parts of the third world too. You'd think that if we can SEE the poverty outside, we'd be more grateful for what we have. Sorry, doesn't work that way.

When you've grown up with privilege, it is way too easy to get used to it and assume that it is your right. Entitlement and all. And even when people living five minutes away from your home live in tiny sheds, it's hard to identify with them.

Living in a world where most things come fairly easily, our fluent English guarantees us good jobs, and we've never had to wonder where the next meal is coming from, we feel sympathy for those who don't have all that... and still we complain like whiny 3 year olds when we have to face minor discomforts.

I'm not here to point fingers, because I'm just as self-centred as the next privileged individual.

Let me give you a few examples to prove that this is not humility talking.

Most of middle class India has cleaning ladies who come in to sweep and mop the floors every morning. A few years ago I was between jobs, and used to stay up late in the nights, and sleep every morning (after waking up to eat breakfast because that's the rule in my home). But every morning, the cleaning lady would come in, and start sweeping the floor, cleaning the windows, dropping dust over the sheets covering me, and overall driving me nuts. "FREAKIN ANNOYING WOMAN CAN'T SHE JUST LEAVE ME ALONE AND LET ME SLEEP IN MY PEACE!!!" was the extremely Christian thought in my head most mornings. Yes, while a woman more than twice my age cleaned MY room, and I stayed in bed, doing... nothing.

Yup this meme, IS about me, though I didn't make it:

What about the irritation when I wake up in the morning, and the cup of tea made for me by my parents DOESN'T HAVE ENOUGH SUGAR... AGAIN! Do they hate me????

Or when I'm watching TV, and my brother's phone signal interferes with the TV signal, and I miss bits of the serial I'm watching. Could ANYTHING be more frustrating??

Or when the Internet stops working.. for a few hours? GRRR... THE UNIVERSE MUST HATE ME TOO! It's a conspiracy between the universe and my parents!!

I'm not alone. These are some of the problems people face in my little privileged world:

Good nail polish is SO hard to find! You have to get it from the US, because it's SO overpriced in India!
The problem with having a job is that you don't have time to have a life!
Uggh. My fancy and expensive cell phone is SO annoying, I can't figure out how to get the darn thing to do what I want it to!
The rain is SO annoying... I have to wear these stupid raincoats and my feet get wet on my way to my air-conditioned dry work place.
The monsoons make my life SO hard- I get stuck in traffic jams in my fancy dry air-conditioned car listening to music.*

Okay, I don't mean that people who are privileged never have problems or frustrations. Neither am I saying only poor people deserve sympathy. I'm just saying:
  • Get some perspective. There are REAL problems, and there are minor inconveniences. Do a quick check about which one you're going through when you find yourself moaning. 
  • If you're so caught up in your own rich people problems that you don't even know what it feels like to be poor, fast for just one morning. That surely gives you some perspective. By which of course I mean it gave ME some perspective. 
  • Read a book about people who suffer real deprivation, and walk in their shoes... even if it's just through your imagination... for a couple of hours. Don't run back too fast to your comfortable world. Reading about parched, thirsty, drought-ridden sufferers made me run for a glass of water and savor the taste.
  • Don't stop there like that stupid song that said 'Well tonight, thank God it's them instead of you.' We don't just feel grateful that we don't suffer like other people... we get out there, and do SOMETHING.
  • And please, every now and again, take a look at your spending habits, and say "Do I REALLY need that?" "Consumerism has accustomed us to waste. But throwing food away is like stealing it from the poor and hungry." sez Pope Francis.
  • STOP COMPLAINING ABOUT EVERYTHING! Your life doesn't really suck!
Okay, I'm done preaching. Gotta walk the talk now.

(But I can't resist posting a few more of these.)

*Not quoting anyone I know verbatim... don't get mad at me!


  1. Got mad on the way to work this morning with an errant driver and tried to balance it out by being even more obnoxious (the how dare he cut me when my car has a better and more powerful engine) thankfully better sense prevailed a half a km later :) this really puts a good perspective on it. Keep it going suze (try pronouncing this one :p )

  2. I super love this post! And those memes are hilarious. HA!

  3. A friend of mine couldn't get her cappuccino to foam properly because the milk had gone a little off, so she had to drive to the store and get some more. Probably a first world problem.

    Regarding food waste, I was surprised to hear that Canada (in which I live xD) wastes around 27 billion dollars worth of food a year, mostly at the household level. I'm trying not to contribute to that unfortunate trend, but I tend to see anything that's past it's 'best before' date as a timebomb, rather than not quite fresh. Whence comes the problem I suppose, when multiplied by 30 million of us.

    1. Exactly. I think it's a mindset. when I was in the US, I was shocked that we didn't finish the leftovers before making new food... knowing that the leftovers were probably going to go bad if we didn't eat them soon.

  4. The one thing that annoys me is wasting food. And guess what i'm good at it - not wasting food! but i'm not good at predicting how much i would eat or tomorrows a weekend and i should stuff in more food so that i dont have to go out and plan the food out. Nonetheless, i end up stuffing more food than i could eat but also i couldn't let it go waste. i just cant make myself throw the food either because it is probably going bad or i'm just cant eat it anymore. I dont buy supplies till i see there is no food in the fridge and only once when i see that its almost empty i go and buy some.