Heidi Trautmann

Heidi Trautmann Column 51 - Let's talk about culture and everyday Luxury

It is a contradiction in terms if we start thinking about it; luxury is not meant for every day, it should be marking a special occasion, something out of the way, something to celebrate with a special present, but there actually is this term: everyday luxury.

Electricity is one or has become pure luxury recently in Cyprus, not only in the northern part. I mean we are used to power cuts since the time we have come here to live, it was luxury then because the turbine at the electricity plant was old until they got a new one. In the meantime we are so used to have regular electricity supply that we now start moaning when there is an occasional cut. Prices are going up now, but apart from the fact that so many institutions, hotels, municipalities are not paying their bills and the electricity department runs out of money to buy new fuel, we must admit that everything is getting more and more expensive, especially the fuel.

So what can we do in this special case? We can go back and regard the things that have become everyday luxury as pure luxury again and go about it more carefully. There are a lot of things we can do to save electricity, not only by the use of low voltage bulbs but simply by asking ourselves if it is necessary that the TV runs all day or to think twice before I switch air-condition fully on, rather dress accordingly.  Must we use a big deep freezer? Let’s shop more often fresh food. Whenever we open the water tap the pump starts working, a lot can be saved by thinking twice. What about a candle dinner at night?

We are taking such things as granted in our daily life. Computers for everyone in the family, extra cars for the kids, all those things we think we need. Why can we not take the bus into town once in a while, leave the car near the bus station?  Or take the bike to do some errands, it would do us good anyway.

Ahhh, luxury, I love it, to spoil myself with something out of the way or to be spoilt by my husband with a nice surprise present. Luxury should remain a surprise, something one looks forward to, perhaps once a year? As soon as something is available every day it becomes mundane. Eating shrimps or lobster on a regular basis…I just couldn’t. Or start the day with caviar and champagne?

Why does one want luxury? To impress others? To enhance our sense of life? To feel precious? Do we need things of a certain trademark to feel better? Do we need to decorate our homes or ourselves expensively? Often we fall victim to advertising in television or magazines. Luxury is a symbol in society but the danger - as I see it – is that our luxury becomes uniform, nothing to distinguish ourselves from others.

I admire people who have the talent to make things themselves, decorate their homes with their own art work, a painting, a sculpture,  a nice embroidery, a vase painted, some things found in nature and assembled on shelves; or ladies doing their own dresses. I know if everybody would do it, trade would collapse, but we become more and more dependent on the ideas of the industry.


If you read your religious book you will find that luxury= luxuria= the sin of lust in the seven deadly sins was condemned. Religious leaders feared that it would distract people from a modest life and from prayers. Luxury comes and goes with changes in social, political and technical development.  I remember the times after the war when meat was a luxury product; today the existence of big meat farms makes it affordable though without the guarantee of better quality. Young girls were dreaming of their knight in a big expensive car, families dreamt of their own house. What used to be luxury in the old days has today become standard.

It makes me think of stories I have read about people who are living from social aid money: One woman was applying at the Social Dept. for a new TV set as the old one was not according to the newest standard; a family wanted new furniture for their daughter who was entering school and did not like the colour Pink anymore, and please also a computer for her.

However, the most hilarious request to the Department was done by a man, also living solely from aid money and whose wife had run away so that, he explained in his letter,  he had to obtain the services from a lady of pleasure and would herewith hand in the invoice for such service.


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