Do people that you meet value you or your net worth?
I’ve seen it happen here – both to me and to others – in this city and elsewhere, where more value seems to be placed on one’s net worth. At best, this attitude is cringe-worthy.
Then, a friend told me about what happens in another city in India (a city somewhere in the north, where a lot of high-level government buildings are located, if you get my drift). He said that if he ever moved back there, he would have to buy himself a BMW or he would not fit into his friends’ circle. (He happens to live in Mumbai, and he said people don’t care as much here). But over there, if he was say, driving in a Toyota Camry (not a bad car, if I may say so!), his friends, would ask, what happened, yaar?
As I looked on in amazement, I said to him, you must move around with a bunch of rich and famous people. He said, Nah – most of them will be trying to figure out how to get cash for next month’s loan payment!
It’s all about the image. Because that’s how you connect there and that’s how you network and find business contacts. Wow! A car as a visible symbol to help you network and do business, that’s how it works?
Unfortunately, this is more fact than fiction and more (regrettable) truth than not, and it’s only one example. People are more than likely to succumb to the pressure of their peers here because fitting in into the society they move in is considered very important. And then they get valued for the car they own! Really sad.
The good news is that the attitude is not yet ubiquitous (god help us!) and that it’s more prevelant in some cities and some societies than others. I hope that this trend, instead of catching on and spreading, diminishes with time and economic progress! If not, we’d really have something to worry about regarding the state of society and values in India.
You name a world famous designer brand, and they probably have a retail outlet in Mumbai.
Vuitton, Gucci, Versace, Tod’s, Burberry, Cavalli, Canali, Dior, Armani and the list goes on. And on….
[And, if they don’t, you can still find the goods in a place called Heera Panna, apparently one of the largest center of all imitation goods in Mumbai, ranging in quality from excellent to poor].
So, this then, is the other side of life in Mumbai. Showcasing a vibrant market for high-end designer items and attracting designers from all over the world to set up shop here.
Or else, why would there be so many outlets? And more planning to open?
The dichotomy of India as represented in Mumbai: Celebrities, industrialists and families with new money and old appear to exist in more abundance now than at any time in the last century. And it is definitely turning out to be a consumer society. In this case, high society.
People are spending a lot of money with ease, acquiring things – whether it is a $2000 LV handbag, a $1500 designer sari or a multi-$1000 designer watch. Certainly in my time in India B.A., i.e. Before America, this was not the case! It’s almost like an acquisition fever that is raging, and in some cases, it’s a race to see who owns what first!
In addition to designer fever, there is also a mall mania that has caught fire. So, for those who do not aspire to or afford the high-end designer goods, they can always acquire things at a more modest level. But, that’s a story for another post, this mall society that has developed here.
In those old days, most of the foreign goods had to come from foreign countries, brought in by friends and family. Seiko was a designer watch in those days, for heaven’s sake, not Vacheron Constantin. [Patek Phillipe probably the best known and most expensive Swiss watch brand does not sell in India. Yet]. Aah, but how things have changed!
Whether good or bad (and it doesn’t have to be either), it definitely shows the transformation that has occurred in this country in recent years. And, it doesn’t show any signs of slowing down anytime soon!