The weekend was spent doing fun stuff -movie, dining out, shopping and driving around Mumbai. Shopping was particularly fun what with the sales and variety and choices available. While some things appeared a steal and very reasonable, at the same time the effect of increasing consumerism was insidious. Fridges that averaged at 40-50 thousand and if designer clothes and designer sofas that cost a crore isn't bad enough, I saw a bike (bicycle) that cost more than a lakh! I stopped for a minute as I wondered at the renowned brand displayed.
I am very happy to see India retail open up. Economic liberalisaton that has made it possible and I cheer the new India. One generation older to us who struggled through the month on a small fixed salary to educate their children (us) and any item of world class quality or luxury could only be bought in the grey market of smuggled goods or at the mercy of more affluent relatives who'd travel abroad. Quality in electronics and perfumes was unheard of and hence I am very happy to see the new India - a generation that takes ipod, mp3, playstations, laptops and Gloria Jean or Costa Coffee coffee for granted.
However, just last week after the Ahmedabad blasts, a friend had commented (in an effort to comfort my angst), 'Urban India is a consumerist society. Give us a distraction and we will soon forget it happened. Sorry if it sounds sick but it is true'.
Is it is really difficult to reconcile the two. On one hand all the lovely things we crave and chase. On the the other hand, violence and terror acts that feed on poverty, deprivation and lop-sided development.
I do not think it is merely about urban and rural India. There are rich and powerful farmers and landlords. Just as there are rich and poor urban dwellers. So obviously it is a deeper social issue and not merely one of economics and as I like to think, a deeply spiritual one too.
Where does spirituality enter into this you may ask. Quite elementary Dear Watson, as Sherlock would say.
As increasing consumerism stares us in the face, in the inevitable materialism that we embrace, it becomes imperative to focus on things of the spirit to balance it. Matters of the spirit means thinking about somethings more than our own selves, PSP, GOW and GTA; The latest Italian restaurant or jaguar bath fittings. A little time everyday given to develop some quietness of the spirit- thoughts of health, developing a hobby, acts that include some charity or giving and such.
It is not important if these are big things or minor things- but if we neglect matters of the spirit we do so at our risk.