The League of the Extraordinarily Rich
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.
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
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) ?
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!
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
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)