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Money for Nothing

“Money can’t buy love.” they say, and yet our actions, and of those around us, seem to work towards proving towards the contrary every day.

You have just experienced it buying Diwali gifts for family, friends, colleagues and staff at home. Shops are full of gift-packs consisting fancy looking stuff in shiny packages, separated by price – 5000, 3000, 2000, 1000 – you can’t tell what’s inside, and it doesn’t seem to matter. It’s the price point that determines how many of which are bought. Closer relationships, needless to say, will be gifted more expensive packets.

Festivals are but one manifestation of our obsession with material value.

“How much did your wedding Lehnga cost?” It’s the amount, not the uniqueness, fabric, the design that matters. Similarly, a shirt priced at 5k, is considered eminently better than the one costing 3 k. Honeymoon destination has to be overseas; anniversary meals elaborate; gifts expensive.

Even God and gods are seemingly not above. How much you contribute shows the quantum of your love, and of course they showcase their love back the same way – Rs. 500 earns you a Rose garland; Rs. 100 a Marigold one; Rs. 10 a solitary flower. And no monetary contribution only earns you wrath from merchants of god.

Why complain? To be loved, and to love, it’s the price tag that matters.

Economic growth, and resultant increase in disposable income, has created a consumption economy, and as Santosh Desai puts it in his piece this morning “Every act of consumption becomes an affirmation of one’s upward journey, a granular map of one’s gradual ascent in life”.

And this is precisely the reason that price matters, just like our body, which doesn’t realise that we are no longer hunter-gatherers (and that food is no longer scarce) craves and eats every food item it sees, so it is for our material hunger, nourishment for an empty self – except that all that we seem to be eating is junk.

Time that we earlier spent in curating things that we needed, wanted, loved and liked, or those that we picked for others basis what they needed, wanted, loved or liked has been replaced with the effortless, the instant, the expensive.

A bland concoction that lacks meaning, or the very love it promises to propagate.

There were only two things that touched a chord with me this Diwali, both hand-picked – both inexpensive.

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