There is an exclusive ladies lunch for twenty. As the society ‘doyen’ enters, a veiled scrutiny of appraisal awaits her coiffure, dress, shoes and even the logo on the handbag. If five years ago LV was the monogram de rigueur, then today the different colours of the Hermes and the intricate insects of Gucci are like bandmasters in a line-up with their ‘badge’ of acceptance. You have to have one.
Further there are limited editions, collectors series, high end acquisitions, cars, yachts, penthouses, holiday homes in the Mont Blanc, private jets and the stakes just get higher. Most cannot even pronounce Champs-Élysées or Saint-Germain-des-Prés, but claim they are their weekend getaway from Mumbai. You can pine for the moon and even get it but Silky Sood has already gotten Mars!
Society even tells you what to eat. If the dessert has to be red velvet or macaroons flown in from Sprungli, then so be it! In a society of discontent, with people climbing and swallowing each other like snakes and ladders, friendships and companionships for the sake of a coffee or a movie are soon fading into the past like the Ambassador, landline phones and tape recorders. Where is your yearning to rush and share a romantic secret with a close friend? Would you rather boast about your love by sharing a ‘perfect photo’ on Facebook? Even if it’s not true?
All this might seem like an exaggeration, but I’m not sure if it is anymore. Recently at a holiday in Turkey, on a table adjacent to me I saw a family of four, each immersed in their new high tech phone. I saw no love, bonding, companionship, conversation or laughter. A friend while catching a Merlot with me at the bar once confided, “My wife is happiest getting me all dressed up in branded wear and labels, from head to toe and parading me around — I quite feel like a monkey.”
Though men like to think that this is a women driven affair, it is not so. Men too sum up social worth with their own parameters the whiskey they serve, cigar sources, watches and pens and a stable of cars or horses and the properties. They’re equally happy to qualify into society’s ‘snob set’, read ‘showoff set’ and equally insecure about losing their footing, because ‘society’ can quite nonchalantly drop you when the bank balance dips.
It’s a charade and the scapegoat is relationships. The men stand at the bar boasting about their millions when the truth is more about debt restructuring and bankruptcy.
While the women compare handbags and diamonds, the branded ware is often borrowed, bought from pre-used websites or is just an imitation from the far-east.
It’s increasingly a society that marks love, marriage, bonds, education, accomplishments, even art by its financial returns.
Little four-year-old Goldie won a cup in the sack race at school. The celebration is at Wasabi. Never mind that the night’s hero surreptitiously slides the raw sashimi slices under the table covers and gags over sea weed.
The writer is a columnist, designer and brand consultant. Mail her at nishajamvwal@-gmail.com...