Normally, I wouldn’t regard myself as a yesteryear’s product. Why, only a couple of decades ago we were a happening lot, with the right amount of oomph oozing out of our simple lifestyle. Brought up on a staple diet of books by Agatha Christie, Mills & Boon and Barbara Cartland, and Yash Raj films, we blended in a little mystery as the world at large set about decoding the nuances of our demeanour.
Those were the days of Fiat cars, soulful melodies, Rajesh Khanna films and convent-school discipline. The oversized new garments on Diwali were such a delight! Stacked closets were unthinkable. We never knew of a world more glamorous than the one we inhabited. So content we were, in our cocoons.
Soon enough, there was a menacing bombardment of brands. Whodunnit? I still wonder. When and how did the good old Bata and Liberty get eased out by Louboutin, Aldo,Gucci, etc? Suddenly, a pint-sized child, who has not yet begun to set apart her Jacks from Jills in nursery rhymes knows for sure whether her clothes are from GAP or Zara. While teenagers today are complete brand-slaves, and the good old tailor is non-existent in their world, our generation thrived on hand-me-downs.
I recall with embarrassment, how I was picked up from college by my father for a family wedding. All pleas to be allowed to change out of the college uniform, a white churidar-kurta, fell on deaf ears. The punctual gentleman saw no sense in getting late for something so trivial.
Red-faced, I was dragged into a sea of glitter and bling. Later my father asked me why I didn’t mingle with the rest. I told him I felt absolutely out of place because of my clothes. That day, he gave me a lesson, I never forgot. “Beta, these frills and fancies are the refuge of nobodies. Make sure you grow beyond their grip and introduce a well-meaning and confident person to the world.”
Indeed, we have lost the plot somewhere. At a recent social gathering, one couldn’t help but notice the swarm of well-heeled ladies, flaunting finery from head to toe. More than conversing or meeting anyone, they seemed to be interested in eyeing what the rest were wearing. Mentally, they slotted them in different categories of social scale.
What a glaring contrast to the grim reality of our state where we have yet to find a solution to many a crisis. While a farmer commits suicide as he can’t repay a debt of about a lakh, a socialite would probably pick up a branded bag for double the amount and push it into a dark corner of her cupboard once seen by her friends. If only collective conscience prevails and we strike a healthy balance between the haves and have-nots, won’t we be closer to flaunting a newfound social brand called “euphoria”?
(The writer is a Chandigarh-based freelance contributor)