Being an avid people watcher, I have wondered how utterly defeating money can be. Over the past two decades, I have seen how Delhi’s really rich girls behave, and then others like them in Mumbai and Chennai. Whoever said money buys you freedom to make choices, do anything or go anywhere, is just deluded. The rich have such a rigid set of rules that independent thoughts and choice becomes the first casualty.
What they believe as a way of life is to be set inside a corral of thoroughbreds, to mingle with others of the same bloodline and not let idiotic mules take your attention because it certainly won’t do. They have such a strong wall around them that no one else can breach. Pedigree, paisa and even knickers have to match or you don’t stand the chance of a glance. No, you have to be born with it, you cannot make an entry like a wild card in Big Boss. And therein lives a tale!
Money is constricting. Simple. It takes away your ability to breathe on your own or be who you want to be. You have to make sure you have been to the right school, right from age two, with the right nanny in tow. Guess what they speak English too. Since their first grade, it has been charted out which college in the US they are headed to. What serious minded course can they opt for?
If they do go to business schools, they do not compete with us, but go straight to a directorship in daddy’s office.
Independence is an adjective often thrown around but all they want is the right partnership. We call it marriage but all that money doesn’t give them independence of choice. Do you see any rich girl who isn’t or wasn’t married as per her own status? It is a cliché that young, rich people fall in love. They are matched off by their industrialist parents and then allowed to fall in love over the next year or so as the trousseau is designed.
So as part of that falling in love activities, they go to all the hotspots and get their pictures taken in a gamut of designer apparel and it makes its way to sundry news platforms as exclusives. Ooh and aah! Well that’s exactly the kind of reaction these outings are designed for. The radiant fiancé shown as wearing this and that by Oh-My-God brand. All the while, the hazelnut-sized solitaire twinkles.
The wedding costs a bomb. Enough to run ten schools for a hundred years. Everything is on the house from the moment the bugle is sounded. The car that picks you up, to the flight, the hotels, gifts galore, free hairdressing, mela-like henna ceremonies, fancy choreographers to make you dance like Shilpa Shetty.
Now what is wrong with this picture? That the freebies are enjoyed by those very people who don’t need a freebie, that they can afford to pay for it all and yet, they get onto the fancy chartered flights and sit next to people they just saw the day before at another swish cocktails or the designer atelier where they all were getting their rose pink saris sequinned. How insular.
Not once have I read of mind boggling charity to bless the marriage or anything. Did anyone feed a 1,000 hungry children? Paid a team of doctors to visit a dozen villages and teach women about birth control? Distribute ORS? But no, we see more of the same, again and again.
The template of the rich-life zooms in and out of Mumbai, London, NY and Gstaad and rolls in the same set with nothing new to offer, except a choice of bed mates who are probably as discreet. I once knew a really rich girl who was pretend working in a magazine while awaiting the inevitable call to marriage. She actually believed that ordinary people like me came with a certain kind of behaviour which made me stand out as middle class. Who used phrases like, “you people” as if I was a monkey in a lab. Look that woman “studies” and goes to “work” and has to count “money” in the last week of the month! Oh dear she actually knows what white truffles are?
Is this – what the richie rich would call – a frustrated and poor woman’s hysterical diatribe against something she lacks? On the contrary, being stuck into the money groove means that you miss out on real life. Everyone needs a certain amount of comfort, indulgence and financial stability. But beyond that, does it really have to be the leit motif of life?
And how restricting a lot of money can be. You see, being ultra precludes a lot of women in that high class to find any happiness at all because they just can’t climb down to the level of the rest of the world. Now the likes of you and me would be delighted to find companionship in a sudden introduction, be it an accountant or an artist.
They could have been loved, found an opportunity to scream in passion and enjoyed the pleasure of a partner’s undivided attention.
As long as we can laugh and split the bill for the beer, and don’t make unrealistic promises. We can then hope to have a life-long liaison without the worry of labels and look at personal happiness alone. We are very lucky like that.
Imagine if you swung this to the alpha social order. A single woman would first check if the home address is Malabar Hills or Jubilee Hills. A Merc is mandatory. A Rs 1,000 crore valuation is essential even if you sell parachute cloth. The wooing would include yachts and not pav bhaji!
In search for the perfect financial metier instead of a faster beating heart, the super-rich prefer to hang out in singledom, women on the shelf and I have seen a fair share of them — women who gave up chances of love because they chose men who had “jobs”, not good enough to hang on to even though they would have been cherished forever.
They could have been loved, found an opportunity to scream in passion and enjoyed the pleasure of a partner’s undivided attention. But they prefer to look out of a gilded window on the 35th floor of a Manhattan Skyline than lie outside a cheap Goa shack with a pint of lager.
Well, they just missed a life even if they keep their gold cards and carats for ever. Thank god for middle class men and women.