India Shining

All the media everywhere seem to be trumpeting the rise of India. And it is something to experience. The poor seem to be as poor as before -- and prices are rising rapidly -- while the middle class rises, and the wealthy have become more visible than ever before.


The weekly news magazine, India Today, sends out glossy supplements filled with very expensive gewgaws -- e.g., watches costing hundreds of thousands of rupees -- and I wonder how many of its readers can afford them.


Vogue magazine began publishing an Indian edition last fall. I was never a reader -- it looked like something from another world, even when I lived in America. But I bought the December issue, and gawked at it, all the beautiful photographs of beautiful people. (The first three pictures here are from Vogue.)


Last week I fell for an ad for an apartment development in Whitefield, outside of Bangalore, called Windmills of Your Mind. Yes, really. Beautiful duplexes, and Bangalore's cool weather (getting warmer, like everywhere else; but still a big improvement on Chennai). I've been dreaming about it. R says that we could buy such an apartment here in Chennai, and it would be air-conditioned anyway... but I don't think there are such buildings here. Anyway, all this fabulosity doesn't seem conducive to a peaceful mind. How do they bear it, the vast, vast majority who can't even dream of possessing any of it?

11 comments:

swami said...

How much do these "windmills of mind" cost? Do you know??

Prince Roy said...

maybe it's part of the reason so many people buy into the idea of reincarnation. They may not get it in this life, but there is always the next.

Neelam said...

Nancy,
Your post really amused me. I feel exactly the same and I am an Indian-American living in NorCal ;-). I really wonder how middle class Americans can afford to live considering the cost of gas, health insur, the rising food prices. The sky high real estate in Calif despite the mortgage crisis makes me shudder. The oddest thing is the US now is becoming more like India was a few decades back -- bickering religious factions, corruption, inflation ;-)
You must be thankful your soc sec check goes further in India in spite of the declining $.

Nancy said...

Neelam, it's an interesting point of view - made me smile. And sad too, thinking of the bickering religious factions here, in what used to be a very tolerant place (still is, actually, when the politicians aren't around).

I'm not eligible for social security yet, but if I were I don't think it'd pay for any million dollar apartments in Bangalore ;)

Lucy said...

The women in the photos are astonishingly beautiful; the second one is very strange though, like one of those Victorian orientalist paintings...

rambhai said...

is that deepika padukone in the pic???

Anna said...

This follows up a TV programme about the new affluence of India, shown a few weeks ago here. Specifically, they interviewed a number of third generation British Asians who are now leaving the UK for India in search of 'a better life'. The ebb and flow of emi/immigration takes ironic paths sometimes. And the poor are always with us.

Shashi Nayagam said...

India Today seems to be becoming more and more a fashion magazine rather than a magazine which dealt with current issues in India.

Sometimes I feel as though I am looking at a rerun of a situation when I come to India. I see all the young IT crowds in bars, clubs, restuarants, shops etc "the Indian yuppies" thats what I call them. The media trying to push expensive items down on us. It feels like Britain as it was in the 80s with the yuppies.
I wonder if even a little of that supposed wealth that India is making will ever trickle down the line. Don't get me wrong I am not against people enjoying themselves but amongst all this money making the poor are seeming to indeed being forgotton.

Ann said...

Thats exported consumption, or perhaps this is the 'desi' version. Given the global debate (and impact) on climate change and so forth, I wonder if affluent Indians are more ignorant than the developed world.
Thanks Nancy for the peek into this! I have been cut off from the popular culture in India for a while now, but its scary to go back to.

Nancy said...

Ann, I would say that certain communities of wealthy Indians have always been into show, while others have hidden their wealth -- but it used to come out mostly at weddings. Now it's a continuous pressure to buy. At the same time, global warming is in the news -- but the general attitude is that it's the west's fault, let them do something about it. Indians still have a much smaller energy use per capita than the west, of course, and they're seeing luxury close at hand for the frist time. It will be tough to hold most of them back.

Anonymous said...

india today is educating its readers on the nuances of luxury & lifestyle. its a very aspirational magazine. and we should give them credit as its THE Best magazine in its segment. No one else in India does such brilliant edit. unlike some other magazines which are just filled with gossip.Redefining lifestyle i must say, please read it first & i'm sure you shall appreciate it too.

cheers!!!!