Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Land of milk and honey

So once upon a time, in the early days of the world... well, around 60 years ago actually, my late maternal Grandmother went out to work at a textile factory, making clothes, and got paid a measly R14.00 a week (South African Rand - ZAR). At that time, her rent was R6.00 a week and the rest of the money was spent on food for her 7 children and various other people in need that often lodged with the family.

To put things in perspective, today, US$1.00 will get you around R9.57; GB£1.00 around R14.40; and EUR€1.00 around R12.29.

And today, ZAR14.00 can barely buy a 340ml coke and a 40g packet of Lays... or a loaf of bread at around R11.00.

But back then, you could get quite a bit for R14. Bread was R0.07 cents a loaf, a couple of sweets went for R0.01 cent, and entry to to the public swimming pools cost around R0.05 cents. Mother and her siblings only received new clothes, which were usually hand-me-downs, twice a year. 

For someone who loves History as a subject of interest, this is beyond fascinating. Today, most people I know earn at least 50 times more a DAY, then what my Grandmother did in a WEEK. And while our lives are much more comfortable in these contemporary times, the people living in those times still lived. And they had far fewer problems than any of us have today. 

And perhaps this is why I love History so much... because I secretly believe that while life in the general sense was very difficult, it was also much simpler. People lived simply... life revolved around surviving, not acquiring. Materialism as we know it didn't exist back then, because the majority of every population were considered poor or working class. There were no ever-growing epic divides. 

Ironically, it was because of their lack of wealth that they had a better quality of life. I can't actually wrap my mind around it. Journeying through time captivates me endlessly. 

Speaking of captivating, here's a video (in colour) of what life was like in London in 1927 - long before most of us were even born: http://www.youtube.com/user/BFIfilms/videos?query=the+open+road

More vintage colour videos are available here.

28 comments:

  1. No no no no no. They didn't have a better quality of life.
    There. I've said it. Now give me my money for I need to buy me some happiness.

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    1. Well Grumps, my grandfather used to sit outside and look at the stars with his kids... I certainly never had that! :P

      That's why I need a squajillion bucks to fill the voids ;P

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  2. You know, I gotta say, last night I was on the couch with my hubby, two pups and we watched a movie. Pretty good quality living, right here in the now.

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    1. That's awesome Happy Whisk - may you have many more blissful years.

      About the quality - I'll give you an example... food used to be more wholesome and good for you. Today every second person in my family suffers from some kind of auto-immune disease because of our lifestyles and our genetically modified food.

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    2. I don't know your markets so I'll ask ... are there no non-GMO foods in your area? No gardens in the backyard? No better choices to be made, when shopping?

      No better way to live in the now?



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    3. There definitely is but they're much more expensive and to live a truly "healthy" lifestyle here isn't sustainable to most (and not referring to myself particularly). Even the healthy food is somewhat genetically modified.

      In any case, the entire CULTURE of Consumerism is way out of hand too.

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    4. Last Sunday we started our herb garden, and today I saw little teeny tiny babies growing. So fun.

      Here's to good choices and good living.

      Cheers and boogie boogie.

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  3. Emotional wealth totally trumps financial wealth. You've just reminded me that I probably led a happier life when I was making half of what I'm making now.

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    1. Roving Retorter - I always believed that the key to happiness is to stop WANTING things. But it's difficult because we're human.

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  4. Barakah. They had it, and we don't. Simple as that :)

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    1. That's true Dreamlife. In fact, I was just telling my mother that time has begun to mean absolutely nothing to me. Tomorrow is Friday, and before we know it, it will be Friday again... and the days go by faster and faster - especially in this rat race.

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  5. They worked bloody hard for nothing, I know that. My Grandma was one of eight and her Mum, a widow, worked as a Milliner and took in other peoples washing for extra money. All clothes were handmade and swapped around. I understand the concept of living to survive rather than acquire but I'm not so sure on it being simpler. Simple in that you probably didn't expect anything and all rallied round to help but the thought of doing all that just makes me want to lie down. On a yacht...with a million gazillion pounds in my back pocket!

    Great vid!

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    1. Yes they did Juliette - I know my grandparents and parents have worked more than I ever have. And life was often unfair to them too...

      But I often think that surely there's a dear price to pay for such convenience and our newly acquired "over-stimulated" lifestyles...

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    2. yes I suppose so...there's a lot to be said for a simple life without all the trappings. It gives a sense of freedom and honesty to life.

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  6. That is amazing. You're too right about us wanting to "acquire" nowadays. My dad often warns me, now that I have my own place, "Don't become a hoarder." He is too right.

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    1. Yes Prixie, your Dad is spot on. I too have to watch myself and control my consumer tendencies ;)

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  7. La vida ahora es más cómoda y se tiene más presente la calidad de vida e inteligencia emocional van de la mano y en lo financiero hay que aplicar los mismos criterios,abrazos.

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    1. Verdad Rosita. Gracias y abrazos :)

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  8. You don't increase the quality of life by increasing its speed.

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  9. I do think that priorities as well as perspective were something else altogether back then... not sure what to make of this, tho...

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    1. I think people's priorities were definitely key in the way they lived their lives back then Petra :)

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  10. Can't wait until our grandkids look back on our time and make these exact same kinds of comments.

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    1. Ha! I can expect that every generation will talk about how things were in "their time" lol!

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  11. Perfectly well said as always my friend :)
    We make a life by who we are, and not what we've acquired.

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    1. Nice to see you around Kaloo... and yes, who we are as people (good, kind etc.) is all that really matters.

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  12. Agree wholeheartedly. I look back on our life in Yugoslavia...we didn't have a lot but we lived comfortably and BY GOD we were happy. And I love the term from Roving Retorter, "emotional wealth"...LOVE.

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    1. Pretzel Thief - exactly, there's a sense of cohesion and community that has been lost along the way (or so it seems).

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