Life Without a Can Opener

Typical Indian kitchen.

I like to joke that I’m probably one of the world’s most reluctant vegetarians.  I’m not vegetarian due to an ethical point-of-view or because of my religious beliefs.  I’m vegetarian simply because my husband is.  He doesn’t require it of me, I’m free to eat meat any time I like.  It’s just that I’m lazy and I cook what we have here—fresh, lovely, wonderful vegetables.


As a result, all of our food is cooked in my kitchen from ingredients that are fresh and whole.  On Sundays my husband brings momos from the market and I get a break.  If you’re not familiar with Tibetan cuisine, as I wasn’t before I moved here to India, momos are whimsical little steamed dumplings filled with shredded veggies, spices and heavenly goodness.  I’m absolutely mad about them and affectionately call them “the new cheeseburger.”  They’ve replaced an old bad habit.

My life is not quite THIS rustic.

Moving to India has haphazardly replaced a lot of old bad habits with much better ones.  The pace has slowed down.  Things are now simplified; life has become rustic.  There’s a lot to be said about the perspective one gains when life is stripped down to its bare bones.  I don’t even own a can opener.  I’ve been here, cooking up a storm, for almost 8 months now and I’ve never needed one.  What an odd thing for this American.

Not my kitchen, but you get the idea.

I guess I’m a typical first-worlder.  I filled drawers and cupboards with “must-have” gadgets and electronics.  You live in India for any length of time and you discover quickly, reliance on anything electrical is utter folly.  The electricity grid here is as reliable as the weather in the American Midwest.  It isn’t.  If you had told me a year ago I would be living without all my gadgets and “must-haves” I would have told you, and quite unabashedly, “no way!”  Now I own no coffee maker, toaster, microwave, juicer, food processor or mixer.  What I do own is a paring knife and a hand-held grater and I have the scabs on my knuckles to prove it.

Now, before you groan about what a poor thing I must be I can tell you I’m enjoying this.  No more drawer full of specialized knives and do-dads for me.  I don’t even have cupboards.  Just a cup on the counter that holds our silverware and my little knife.  There is no oven.  Just a countertop cook plate with 2 gas-powered burners.  Any of this giving you heart palpitations yet?  It did me too, at first.

Ahhh, simplicity.

But there is a quiet beauty in simplicity and in simplicity is clarity.  I think back to how little I thought I had back in the States and remember how much it turned out to be when I had to get rid of it.  I think about how much more I thought I needed and reflect on how little I have now; and I can’t help but smile.

What I have is enough.  It’s enough to get the job done and just enough to require me to invest a little bit more of myself in everything I do.  No more flicking a switch and letting a gadget do all the work.  There’s more satisfaction knowing I participated so fully in the things I’ve done.  I may not own a can opener but at least I own more of my day.


15 thoughts on “Life Without a Can Opener

      • Yes ~ and I got lots more ~ drop by anytime! And, of course, don’t be shy of sprinkling comments around if you wish, a dash of rustic living here, a dash of rustic living there…

  1. I, too, am living a much simpler life in Brazil and wonder how I could have ever thought all the gadgets and expensive packaging was important. Fun story filled with lots of wisdom. hugs, pat

    • Thank you for reading, Pat. I still sometimes yearn for the creature comforts I had, but not the price tag that came with them. The simpler the better for me!

  2. I was in Northern India following the Lotus Path but only for three weeks and feel in love with it. We are now in Spain for 8 years and hoping to move back to UK soon and have to downsize to achieve it so I know how you feel. Great isn’t it ? Love David This is my first visit found you through Pat Cegan’s Source of Inspiration.

    • It’s quite an amazing experience to crawl out of the comfort zone and immerse yourself in other cultures, isn’t it? The downsizing for me was admittedly very uncomfortable, and in some respects painful. I literally went through a grieving process. I also learned a lot about myself and what was really important. I’m glad you stopped by. Thank you for reading!

  3. I loved the references to how living simply allowed you an opportunity to invest more of yourself in the process. When we are constantly surrounded by technology, we forget that we are capable of performing all the basic tasks of living. Thanks also for the glimpse into living life in India. I’ll be bookmarking your blog and visiting again.

    • Thanks so much for reading! Until I lived here, and changed so much about my life, I had no clue how little involved I had gotten in my own life. There is so much satisfaction to be gleaned by doing those simple things that went lost under the principle of “saving time.” I’m glad you enjoyed and you’re always welcome!

  4. I loved reading your blog. The first paragraph I thought I was reading about myself although I am not a reluctant vegetarian. My husband chose to be vegan because cholesterol runs in his family and even though he is slim and fit he still battles high cholesterol. He does allow me to eat whatever I want but I chose to be vegetarian (I still like cheese and cream cheese). I chose to be vegetarian because I am too lazy to cook to different meals and it does save on costs not buying meat. I also chose a simpler life as well even though living in the US. Look forward to reading more.

  5. I loved this story, and I love your simple way of living. I look forward to reading more of your posts now that I have discovered your blog. Thanks for your recent visit to my blog and reading and liking one of my articles. Your link helped me discover your site. Please visit me again, as I will you. I usually post new articles three to four times a week. Blessings, Connie

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