Wuthering Heights of Desire & Disparity by Nalinaksha Mutsuddi SignUp
Wuthering Heights of Desire & Disparity
Nalinaksha Mutsuddi Bookmark and Share

I am not a fan of any celebrity – Indian or foreign, filmy type or sports variety. And, of course, not of any politician too – no matter with clean image or with a string of criminal records of corruption, murder or rape.  Never found time to track their little movements and flimsy idiosyncrasies: who is whose current husband, who winked at whom etc. etc. Yet, by a quirk of accident, my eyes stumbled on a news nugget: Angelina Jollie bought a mattress for 65,000 USD for having a sound sleep. Small man, I was about to exclaim sixty five thousand dollars for a mattress!  But, my reflexes put a brake by furrowing the forehead, widening the aperture of my eyes, and making the eyeball the size of World Cup football.


Immediately, I recollected a sight of a helper of a truck driver having ‘sound sleep’ under a standing truck in the scorching June sun, near Nehru Place, Delhi. How this poor people monopolize sound sleep, depriving the rich of their legitimate quota, is not known. 


The mattress was made of finest horse-hair and it was bought in 2008. My preference to the reference to this time line is to apprise you, to be ready to shell out more, due to escalation of prices, in case you wish to purchase one, now.  I cannot afford haute couture magazines for dream-shopping for objects of desire.  Per force, I had to satisfy myself – triggered by curiosity generated by the new found knowledge – leafing through Spice, the spicy supplement to India Today. Here is some random samples: a toddler’s shoe Rs. 13,000, your daughter’s earring Rs. 2 Lakh, a shoulder bag Rs 3-5 Lakh and one week stay at a high end Dubai hotel Rs. 4.6 Crore.  Rupees 4.6 Crore for a week’s stay in a hotel?! Instantly, I developed lock-jaw and dropped down the magazine on the floor. And the valuable information was in limbo for so long.


The culprit for rekindling the interest in exhuming the nugget is the current ADB report. According to this report 825 million or 74.95% of India’s population earn Rs. 1,035 per person per month. And only one million or 0.0009% of the population earns more than Rs. 10,354 per person per month. This includes 600 billionaires and 1.27 lakh millionaires, in between. 


In another report (Daily News Analysis 23rd April, 2010) 1 in 3 of Mumbai population can spend only rupees 11 per person per day.


Compare this with a dinner for two available for Rs. 4,000 only at Hyatt Regency, Delhi. 


I reverted to Spice to spice up further my G.K, what the world is reeling about and tripped on some more revealing samples by pick and choose method: 

  1. Trinidad Short Robusto (T) 2010  4 inch cigar costs Rs. 1,000 a piece. 
  2. A bottle of Glenfiddich a rare whiskey fetched Rs. 17.24 lakhs at Edinburgh auction. 
  3. One JAEGER LECOULTRE wrist watch price Rs. 1.85 Crore (vide India Today Spice July, 2010) 
  4. The Chapeau platinum type wine closure is a slick way to store your unfinished bottle of wine costing only Rs. 2.6 lakh . This is the price of a device for closing the left-over wine bottle. What could be the cost of wine and the container? 
  5. A leather hand bag by Jimmy Choo Rs. 1,20,000, and  Leather sandals by Yves Saint Laurent Rs. 60,000.

Each item quoted above is nothing but gross transgression of utility and functionality of the commodity – in the opinion of a poor man, like me. Why a watch should cost Rs. 1.85 Crore,  a hand bag Rs. 1,20,000, and a shoulder bag 3-5 Lakh ? A watch is to indicate the time of the day or night. It should be durable, water and shock proof and made of good material and look elegant enough. Within these parameters there is vast scope for a lot of models to design. And it could be available within a few thousand of rupees, at the most. And a hand bag or a shoulder bag is to flaunt affluence or to carry something for convenience?  Value addition beyond this is sheer bloating-the-ego factor – to embellish the status symbol.  And how about a cell phone costing about Rs. 5 Lakh? It is atrocious.

With the increase of wealth the desire of affluent class is taking an abnormal trajectory. It seems money has no value. In fact, why it should have in the first place? What else should be done with the amassing of fabulous fortunes? Means adopted – fair or foul – is beside the point.  With the fattening of the pocket of a miniscule of populace, the disparity in life style of the rich and the poor is attaining a mind boggling dimension.

Where is the limit to gratification of this ballooning desire? There are inexhaustible items for indulgence for all the five senses. It needs only money to seduce and satisfy your temptations. The inequality was not so glaring even in the days of emperors and feudal lords. Now the gap is widening every passing day.  Equitable distribution of wealth is a wild dream. Where it will end? What will be the impact of it in the society? It cannot be said anything now. But in the long run there may be a big upheaval for which we are not prepared yet, due to its invisibility, for the time being. The samples quoted are peripheral accessories of life.  The core paraphernalia of pleasure and comfort are totally left out. It gives an inkling of the way the rich fancy to splurge their moolah on whims. The complete emerging view is beyond imagination of petty minds, like mine.


On the Independence Day many lofty sayings of our great leaders – past and present -- flashed across the pages of leading dailies -- the essence of all being -- without economic freedom for all, no freedom is complete. Will the concept of economic freedom remain a pipedream for ever? Is there any glimmer of hope that it may be feasible in some far distant future? It can only be answered with a bigger question, with no solution.


Now, to veer to a petty digression: Pamela Anderson earns $ 18,000 per night just for drinking and posing with her patrons at a UK pub. (TOI 24/08/2010) 


Cheryl Cole has been offered 500,000 pounds by Playboy magazine to bare all for a centerfold shoot. Bosses at 84-year old Hugh Hefner’s publication think Cheryl, 27, has the perfect looks to be a hit in USA. (Delhi Times 26/08/2010)


Welcome to this wonderful world of exploding desire and widening ocean of disparity.    

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