Monday, November 20, 2006
Poor ol' porsche man
I was in Habitat, a tiny CD shop in town, a week or so earlier, meticulously browsing through the jazz section when a loud "hallo!" broke the silence. I glanced around to see that a young gent had entered the store, artificially straightened and coloured hair kissing his shoulders. Dressed immaculately in what was undoubtedly the latest in high design, he threw my own frayed kurta, crumpled jeans and wild furiously curly locks, a look of casual disdain. He then proceed to pull Minhaz uncle (Habitat's owner) out to gaze at his brand new Porsche Cayenne 4X4. They returned in a couple of moments and the gent decided to include me in his spec-talk. It goes from 0-100 in 5.6 seconds, has x horsepower etc. until he dropped the prize tag ever so casually, with the air of someone who was telling this story for the first time but I could sense a practised tongue in all this. It cost him a whopping Rs.1.4 crores. He quickly brushed that figure aside and said that he wasn't happy with the pickup so he sent a few parts of the engine back to Porsche factory, somewhere in Europe to get the souping up that he desired. All this at a further cost of Rs.50 lakhs, "completely worth it man because I'll be able to do 0-100 in 5 seconds flat." 50 lakhs for .6 of a second. The man is obviously a slave of time.
On finishing his story or procuring the DVD that he wanted (Johnny Tucker Must Die), whichever came first, he waved to us peasants and sauntered out of the store. As he reached the road a few meters away a shivering child, wearing scarcely anything but a pair of shorts and carrying a miniscule baby approached our hero, tears streaming down her face, asking for a few rupees for food. That look of disdain stole his features yet again as he muttered, "change illa," (I don't have any change) before striding purposefully towards his 1.9 crore set of wheels and metal. I was informed by Minhaz uncle that he had a few more cars in this price range and the money had all come from daddy dearest. He didn't have to work a day in his life.
This really disturbed me and I went out and bought the two kids some food and made sure they ate it. A tiny gesture, hardly worth mentioning. A day later the same kids would have been as hungry and as cold. I find that so many of us get caught up in our own lives and our own group of friends/loved ones that we very rarely reach out beyond this clique. The same people (me included) who have lengthy involved discussions about poverty and giving something back to society conveniently brush it aside when the opportunity actually arises to do something. By this, I don't mean going somewhere and dishing out money but actually rolling up our sleeves and helping people who have no other recourse, not for the recognition, not for the pats on the back but for the sheer joy of it. All my life, my existence has been filtered through my own ego, my own life. I don't know about anyone else but I need to change first. I guess some people will read this and think of it as some ideological bullcrap and some others will be touched. It doesn't matter, either way. I know what I must do.
And I must begin now.