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The League of the Extraordinarily Rich

16th June, 2012

Finally, Bangalore relents. A gust of wind channels down between two buildings and blows past my hair while I walk alone, on that street. There’s a slight chill in the air, a hint of rain perhaps.

I walked a few more steps, watching dry leaves fall on what remained of a sidewalk. The wind blew them farther away, almost to the end of the street. I ran to catch up – no one was watching anyway – but the wind took those leaves farther in the sky. Bah! How could I match that?

I stopped at the corner of the street, let down by some foul play. It really was a beautiful evening. A few beats passed, the music of the wind only got louder. A subtle deep hush kicked in. A base line. And it got louder, the reverberations bounced off the walls, and closer, and louder. I turned back. A sleek silver body knifed through the dusty leaves. It didn’t growl but it made its presence felt.

Those tear-dropped eyes stood out first. Beautiful, hypnotic. Followed by an unassuming grille, and a body draped in a skin that felt like soft subtle satin sheets.

I knew this, I had seen it before. The Aston Martin DB9.

db9

It slowed down as it approached the corner. A smartly-dressed female at the drivers seat, with over-sized shades, looked left and right before turning the DB9 and accelerating away. A trail of leaves followed like hapless children running after their prize, drowning me in a blanket of dust.

I stood there, mesmerized.

Maybe One Day, I Will Too

Sigh.

That’s the only thread that I think through after having my heart flutter with such a close encounter. Maybe one day I’ll be sitting in the drivers seat. Driving just for the fun of driving, through small streets, wide highways, remote roads and smooth tarmac.

But these cars are moody, they’re demanding. They’ll give you feedback, tell you if you’re gear-shifting right, or gnash when you get it wrong. You can feel the car slide through corners, lurching  as you pull out onto a straight patch.

They’re not practical, fuel-efficient, or worthy to take on most of the roads. Then why buy them?

Is that fleeting moment worth clearing out your bank account (along with a few dubious loans from sketchy moneylenders) ?

The Moneyed

There is a section of society, less than 1 percent of course, who live a different life altogether. They tackle different problems, are able to handle solutions of a bigger scale, and are generally in a different level-playing field.

And they buy such cars just for the “weekend drives”.

So, you may ask, how did they get there?

I guess we make a mistake that anyone with such large sums of money must have made it through less-than-legitimate methods. Sure, but you can’t discount the fact that you can earn that money through well-intentioned means as well. Sell Hotmail. Market like Chetan Bhagat. Grow your restaurant business like Nirula’s. Get into banking or consultancy and kill it.

Did I hear you laugh? A snigger, perhaps? Oh I can feel your sarcasm right here on my keyboard. Burning my fingers as I type! Got it – GOT IT!

The Moneyed-By-Other-Reasons

And there’s a section of society you feel never earned their money through skill or hard-work. They stole, pillaged and generally created chaos with public and / or private funds. They conjured up black money from, umm, black holes and not only did they stuff it inside their treadmill but also used it to buy large sprawling properties next to similarly large sprawling properties at equally prohibitive prices.

Either way, the fact is, they have and I have not.

Y U NO IN SAME LEAGUE?

A salaried person like me coupled with a salaried partner, excluding all inheritance, can only dream of purchasing, say, a BMW 5-series as our primary car when we inch closer to our 60s. (It goes hand-in-hand that we’ll be sitting on properties within the same purchasing category.) And that is a very relaxed estimate, considering good increments and more-than-decent promotions.

I don’t see any connection for a middle-class-doof like me to break into the Big Boys league, purchasing Aston Martins just for the weekend drives.

At this point one may be tempted to shrug shoulders, stare into the wall and mumble, “This is what life has in store for me. This is my destiny.”

(If you believe in destiny and a charted pre-scripted existence please feast your eyes upon this one Wikipedia article on Free Will and determinism. Then we’ll talk.)

Life’s Lemons Levitate the Loo-ey

No.

Hell no.

In this chase for success, it’s time we re-evaluated our metric of success. How do we measure how far behind the Joneses we are? Are today’s public and visual cues part of this measure: house, car, kid’s school, club memberships?

My point is this: all those measures should be secondary outcomes in this rat race, not the reason for the rat race in the first place.

The way I look at it, the reasons for running the rat race is to solve some problem:

Can I serve the best sushi in town?

Can I make textiles that serve factories in the entire Gangetic plains?"

Can I make a mobile app that makes people’s lives easier?

Can I build a new ecosystem around people’s urge to travel the world?

Can I “eliminate” my boss and earn my promotion?

And here’s your metric:

The bigger the problem, the better you are. Chase that problem, hash it out. Find a solution, and then refine it. Refine it some more. Give it your heart and soul, give it some more, and then you’ll suddenly realize that you’ve joined the Big Boys league.

Just like that.


(Photo Credits: bradklodowski)

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12 Comments leave one →
  1. 16th June, 2012 5:11 PM

    Yet the fear of failing, the What-If questions prevent us from getting a pass of Big Boys League. How I wish I should not have developed the desire of going “safe” or “secure” and meanwhile, forbidding the raw original ideas from seeing daylight which if implemented properly, would have made me much more satisfied.
    Still, nothing much lost. It is not over untill it is over.

    • 16th June, 2012 7:52 PM

      I guess a bunch of us have an impaired risk-taking ability.

      But hey – I agree – not much is lost. Life is still good this side!

      Thanks for dropping by, Amit.

  2. 16th June, 2012 9:26 PM

    Great post! When you’re trying to solve a problem, you should always have an overarching vision, and once you know what that is … work towards that vision by making apps, starting sushi restaurants, textile mills and what not.

    I dreamt of owning Ferraris and Aston Martins till my mid 20s too, guess its a guy thing, thought it would never go away!! But then I moved to a city where owning a car is absolutely unnecessary and stupid, and that urge to drive around in a v12 just disappeared.

    • 18th June, 2012 10:49 AM

      Thanks Paulie!

      Loved the way you framed it – “always have an overarching vision”. We should put this up in Barney’s office, you know?

      And funny there’s no space for a V12 in NYC. Maybe on your drive to Long Island .. ?

    • 18th June, 2012 11:08 AM

      parking in some places in Manhattan costs $15 every half an hour, i’d be paying too much to park my car lol. Also, i think everytime you cross the damn bridge there’s a $12 toll. MTA sabse best, 24 hours, go wherever the f*ck you want at whatever time.

    • 18th June, 2012 12:10 PM

      Hahaha! Chalo we’ll create a “One Day Paulie Will Drive a Car” fund. We’ll create an advertisement that will touch everyone’s hearts, with sobby sad songs playing at the back. YES! Let’s DO THIS!

  3. 17th June, 2012 12:43 AM

    Hmm! Ah well, do we really need that wonderfully loaded stylish car? I’d rather take a walk down the streets of Bangalore, than go zooming around the city in a car which will make more than a few 100 heads turn.

    • 18th June, 2012 10:51 AM

      We’ll see once you’re sitting in one.

      Rephrasing this with female stereotypes, it’s like saying, “I’d rather carry my Fabindia jhola than a Hermes bag!” HA! Ya right!

  4. 19th June, 2012 12:28 PM

    I wouldn’t want that huge stylish car. You ask me why, the fuel prices are hiked every fortnight, the roads are full of potholes, there is no enough space to park the car. I am better off without it

    You could say it is a classic case of sour grapes but it makes me feel better ;)

    • 19th June, 2012 12:58 PM

      Haha true! Those cars don’t just look expensive but unfeasible. Where in India can you even think of driving that?

      All hail Tata Nano? :D

  5. 28th June, 2012 5:38 PM

    Hey! thats a nice post. Keeping aside that guy thing of dreaming to own that swanky car, making many heads take a 360 degree turn, raking up ur desirability quotient for the girls Etc etc, I being a girl too want a car may b not as stylish as u dream but with the bucks saved from the car i’d like to own some stuff from jimmy choo, melissa, dolce & Gabbana, Prada, Gucci n the list goes on.
    well thts a dream..i detest why there z a discrimination imposed as to who can have the privilige to get these stuff in his/her wardrobe..
    P.S first timer here.

    • 28th June, 2012 6:39 PM

      I agree with Jimmy. He should Choo-se well. :D

      We definitely should protest this discrimination. Why must I work and earn money while a few others party their nights away. Chalo, let’s stage a protest!

      Thanks for dropping by, ye first timer!

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