Reality check


Last night, I read a New Yorker profile on the fashion designer & bon vivant Valentino. While I’ve had a vague idea that I share a planet with some fabulously wealthy people, I suppose I’ve never personally confronted true wealth. As I read that his wedding gown collection starts at $35,000, I realized with a start that $35,000 will allow me to buy the car I would buy if I could afford:
a) the downpayment
b) the insurance
c) the gas
& buy this car not once, but at least twice, if not thrice.

I read on about Valentino’s many homes around the world. Palaces / castles / yatchs are more accurate terms to use. I did not feel the sense of yearning that comes over when I read say, the Travel pages of the NY Times. Surprisingly, there was no feeling of ‘God, I wish I had that.’ Although it doesn’t sound like it, I’m not beatifying myself. I’m merely registering surprise. Apparently, there are limits to my materialistic fantasies. Or wealth of this magnitude is so clearly out of reach, that I accept it without fuss – just as I do the fact that I will never visit Mars.

Couple of days ago, I read another profile. This time, one of Colonel Fawcett, a British explorer who went into the Amazonian forest in 1927, and never came back. Hundreds have tried to find him / his party / his remains. And the crazy thing is, I can see what made these poor buggers go out there, risking their necks for this stranger.

Reading this article brought back memories of Desmond Bagley novels read long ago. No high tech gizmos, no GPS, no satellite radios, no helicopters, no all terrain vehicles – just a bunch of hardy, adveturous souls. And as much as I know am not one of them, I like to think I am. It’s the sorta day dreaming that a really good Bond movie triggers (NOT ones that have Halle Berry in them!). You know it’s fiction, ridiculously unrealistic fiction at that. There’s nothing noble about it – it’s not as if you’re casting yourself in the role of Albert Schweitzer. And yet, you allow the silly plot to seduce you. You invent this parallel universe where you’re suddenly a suave, heart-breakingly handsom super spy who dodges every bullet & repeatedly saves the world. Not like Schweitzer who probably wanted to save the world, but incidentally, when your mind was elsewhere. That makes it so much cooler.

OK. Major digression there. To return to poor Colonel Fawcett & all the poor slobs who went looking for him. The closest I’ve been to a “jungle” is a resort in the Jim Corbett park. One morning, we ate hot aloo parathas, got all bundled up & went around what looked like a nice neck of woods in what was easily the noisiest jeep in the world & kidded ourselves that every tiger in the park was waiting to come out for a nice stroll at the precise moment we drove by. Even as the ridiculous footage of me, my 2 friends & this old driver flits through my head, I lay there thinking to myself, “Hmm, the Amazon…with the right equipment, I could do that.” Right equipment? As though I would even know what that is. I am the person who had to be taught how to tie shoe laces properly! Yes, all of us were taught this valuable lesson at some stage in life. My moment was 2 years ago – just outside Central Park, when the friend I was walking with was fed up stopping every 25 steps to wait for me to tie my laces again.

There is a point to this rambling, and am getting there. What makes some crazy stuff so appealing, while other equally crazy stuff leaves us totally cold? I have no wish to own a home in Holland Park, or sail a yatch around Mediterranean hot spots. I also have no wish to actually be stranded in a rain forest – but somehow the latter is more appealing than the former. When it comes to two utterly hypothetical options, why do we chose one over the other? It’s not as if we were talking from experience. Lots of times neither option is something we even want to do. And yet, we’re able to chose. How? And why?

Scary thought – do arranged marriages work on this principle? Do we make all decisions like this? Picking colleges, majors in those colleges, jobs, lovers? Yes, we may have a teeny bit more information when making those decisions, but really, what do we know? Is this where the famed gut feel comes in? What I want to know is what does my gut know of the Xingu Reserve? And what pray does it know about owning the Château de Wideville?

Let us set aside for a brief moment all the day dreaming, and intellectual cogitation on the mechanism of decision making, and consider the truth. Truth is:
a) in this lifetime, I cannot fit into that red dress, much less afford it;
b) I cannot afford that car in the next five years, if not longer;
c) I won’t be visiting even the outskirts of that forest in the next 10 years, if ever and
d) I will never ever meet that man, let alone be him.

That’s all for tonight folks.

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11 comments so far

  1. Karthik on

    Ok, now you are starting to make me jealous. Every one of your last three posts has been beautifully written. Very, very good.

  2. Falstaff on

    That was brilliant.

    The only part I didn’t agree with was the bit about not having Halle Berry in the movie – any time I’m saving the world from certain destruction there’d better be Halle Berry at the end of it – otherwise what’s the point?

  3. DoZ on

    What a way to begin a Friday 🙂 Thank you, both! Falstaff – I have to disagree with you abt Halle Berry. My biggest crib – she looked worried, when that ice whatever was melting. Not done. If you’re super spy / superhero, maintaining your sangfroid (which should have been easy, given that she was in Siberia or Iceland or someplace very cold) is the least you can do.

  4. J. Alfred Prufrock on

    Desmond Bagley? Then why not the wilds of Iceland, eh? (I used to lie awake dreaming of that high-power rifle in Running Blind that could ‘rock a jeep back on its springs’)

    Perhaps with Salma Hayek instead of Halle Berry?
    More appropriate in Zihuatanejo, surely?

    J.A.P.

  5. DoZ on

    Hmmm…hot Hayek & Iceland… I can do that 😉

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