To me wealth would mean ‘having something which money cannot buy’.
Fortunately not many agree with this connotation. Or, how would there ever have been delightful stories of the ‘rich and famous’ their idiosyncrasies , fads and foibles, their escapades and escapism, slanders and slumbers, gossip and infamy, which cater to the entertainment industry across the globe. Its sooo much fun to return from a drudgery of the mundane kind, put your feet up and lose yourself in the inanities of the ‘other world’, where the most pressing issue is caring for the multi million dollar estate. So you see, the wealthy serve a purpose as well..doling out vicarious pleasure to the millions ’bout their millions.
Now when alluding to ‘wealthy’ I mean the Really Seriously, Unthinkably Wealthy.. chosen few..the kind who own villas all over the globe, jet set hi fliers, breakfast in Spain and lunch in Miami kinda guys. As luck would have it..sigh.. I happen to know a few on ‘cordial terms’..air kissing, clinking glasses and ‘all that jazz’ basis! That I wish to turn invisible at the false fawning, synthetic warmth, at the first whiff of their French perfume invading my senses, may also be noted. You see, I suffer from a jaw-lock-that-soon-aches syndrome..the kind that takes over surreptitiously as soon as a smile remains fixedly on for over a minute, with no hint of having reached the eyes, and threatens to remain so for an unlimited period thus affixed..and dang! the ache descends with aching regularity.
At one such session, when yours truly was hurriedly surveying escape routes, what do I see! The cutest, cuddliest, toddler.. the hosts, I guessed quickly. Ahh! what more could I ask for ..a perfect way to spend a not so perfect evening.. lost in the gurgles of the kiddo, rather than the giggles of the momma. Baby perfume over French anyday! Baby milk powder over cheddar n wine n caviar! Of course! So off we go, Nanny, Baby n moi, into the nursery.
I knock off the stilletos from my sorely complaining trotters, throw myself on the bed and bury my head in the sweetness of the babys Oh so podgy neck..with both of us laughing merrily. A real moment, Kodak Moment..stored forever in the master chip.
The Nanny quite amused at this turn of events when she could happily watch her ‘K’ serials while the baby was being fed, diapered, lullaby-ed, made her pleasure all to known by lavishing me with compliments, hoping that I’d visit more often ( Clever).
To cut to the chase, she made sure that kebabs, and sushi was in regular supply while I performed ‘her’ tasks! Now that camaraderie was well established, and we had both resigned into a comfort zone, she began warming up . Not willing to share my wine, I offered her the ‘snakes’ ( snacks) as she referred to them .She pulled back in horror as if I’d offered her a part of my cannibalistic feast! She divulged that food for the servants was made separately. Of course i said, I understand. But surely, I argued..No No, she continued. She was forbidden. In fact, she was not permitted to eat ‘chapattis’..only rice, which she ruefully informed me was the cause of terrible acidity, but she had no recourse. The servants were given rice..on orders.
I had often heard tales elucidating on the ways of these gloriously rich. Their logistics went so: Each penny saved, needs to be further invested to create further pennies. Therefore curb expenses, save, invest and grow wealthy..Wow!! No wonder >>I’d never get there. Before the cheques came in, expenses had been listed, holidays, discussed, gizmos selected, kiddos presents secretly decided,and so on.
Believe me this was no hyberbole of an incident. After this tale, I have now turned immune to the ones which speak of disgruntled, employees, cheated labourers. It has further solidified my belief that largesse of heart and mind is has nothing whatsoever to do with the domain of riches. It has to do with a compassionate attitude. How can I forget the scene of the beggar woman giving off her last bed sheet to carry the injured, during the blasts?
Generalisations are not just odious but also dangerous . The creation of stereotypes sequentially, then is a certainty. There are others one knows of, who have these ‘Langars”( free meals) interminably on at Vaishno Devi and other such. However one need preclude the theory of ‘appeasement to the Gods’ as a possible factor, which almost as if nullifies the philanthropic argument.
The more I think of it the clearer the possibility seems as if the creation of wealth is sometimes at the expense of the non-wealthy. Each penny out of the proleteriat only goes to adding on multifold that of the classes. If one benefits almost tangibly by exploiting the weak is not their resultant predicament a source of guilt? Are the wealthy therefore perpetuating the ever widening chasm that divide the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’? More importantly, is wealth a refuge or a necessity? Is it a route to further aggrandisement materially, when ideally it should have been the cause of philanthropy? Or, if one may argue, tangentially, does the accruement of wealth pre-dispose ones need for humanitarian efforts?
Our values, our steadfastness of principles is often gaged by what we can tolerate being done to others. Recently, a maid from Dubai arrived in Mumbai after having served A christian couple, Lewis, from Kerala, as a Nanny for their twins. She was brought on a wheel chair, emaciated, beaten, unbelievably tortured, rescued by an NGO. Her fault? None except that she was poor, illiterate, desolate, and needy.
Purely as a comic interlude, which perhaps makes this as relevant as today is the news of Lau Prasad Yadavs in-laws travelling ticketless in Kranti Express. “Jamai Babu Ministerva Hai Bhai.. Toh Hum Ticket va Kyon Lee ba!!”
Continuing after the break..
If being wealthy does not transform you into a better human being then what purpose does it serve? Make you happy? Ah-Ah that doesnt seem so either.
John D. Rockefeller
When asked if he was happy with all his riches, he said, “I have made millions, but they have brought be no happiness.”
John Jacob Astor
American Fur Company Tycoon–left his children with $20 million at his death in 1848
“I am the most miserable man on earth”
William Henry Vanderbilt
Railroad developer and financer.
The wealthiest man in America during his time and the father of the wealthiest family in America “The care of two hundred million is enough to kill anyone. There’s no pleasure in it.”
Puzzling isnt it? But if possessing wealth failed to give them any happiness, perhaps they ought to have considered giving it to charity!! That might have done the trick,,But then Ahh well..this post would have sounded untrue eh? If you are wealthy, you are so till your dying day. You choose not to live well, so that you can die wealthy..chuckle chuckle.
Hmm.. I guess, given the choice I’d be rich, enough to buy what I need and wealthy enough to buy what money cannot.