Happiness for Sale! At a retail store near you

Every year during the holiday season all of us are spammed with advertisements galore about discounts, sales and offers at different retail stores. And it can intimidate the strongest among us who don’t usually cave into peer pressure.

Movie stars constantly endorse utilities and other appliances. Do you really think sharukh khan drives ani10? Think about it.

I have always wondered why companies like Amazon, Walmart or Reliance have this sudden found empathy to promote human values among its customers. And in my own naïve way I have observed that those evil marketers have finally got to us.

The day after these festivals everyone always wondered what we received as gifts and what we gave to others? It becomes almost like a parade where we flaunt our wealth. Our affection towards each other seems so tangible that we can measure it in dollars!

Allow me to relive how our family usually spent Diwali and I am sure a parallel narrative exists for the readers in the form of Christmas, Hanukkah or Eid.

Our parents would plan our trips to our ancestral village, which we would refer to it as “town” to our friends as we are secretly ashamed of our bucolic upbringing. All our relatives would gather there and would spend the day together.

The womenfolk would be in charge of cooking delicacies, some of which would take the whole night to prepare. The men would be in charge of purchasing clothing and fireworks. Men looked forward to interviews of actresses and women relished debates on the telly which made fun about the plight of husbands. Through which they thought they scored a silent victory.

The topic of the debate would be something like: “Who is harder to satisfy during the festival season? Is it the Husband or is it the Wife?

Man 1: Do you know what my wife wanted for this Diwali, an expensive silk Sari worth Rs.3000. Does she think money grows on trees? How am I supposed to afford that!

Man 2: I know these women have no idea how hard we work. My wife wants a gold necklace for 5000Rs, it is ridiculous.

*Sanity Check*

Let us do some basic economics here. A housewife toils for 365 days a week approximately 15 hours a day.

365 * 15 = 5475 hours a year, and suppose the husband caves in and buys her that Rs. 5000 necklace it would equate to 5000/5475 = 1.095 Rs/hr. Who knew women were such gold diggers. Gosh!

*******************************Back to Diwali**************************************

I didn’t appreciate the efforts they would put into it as I thought I was obliged to it as a participant. But now as a mature adult (debatable, I know) I don’t celebrate any of these as I am too cool for that desi stuff. And as my grandmother passed away this year there were no celebrations in my family back in India.

My grandma would slave away in the kitchen for the whole day preparing a complex range of delicacies. And if you happened to be a greedy little fat fuck like me, they better be ready to cook a second batch. She would make sure to reserve a good part of the food prepared to give it away to the needy. She always made sure that we grandchildren give it to them so that we directly earn the goodwill of the poor.

She would then attempt to educate us about the meaning of the festival on our way to the temple which we always would ignore. She was overarching glue that held our huge family together under one roof. We wouldn’t return until the next festival and would only occasionally call her to check up on our health. And every year she would put in the same kind of superhuman effort to keep us happy.

Contrast this to a hypothetical uncle returning from the middle-east. He would get us chocolates and toys and we would worship him for a couple of days while completely ignoring our grandmother. I mean he barely put any effort into his gift right? But why should that diminish the effort of our grandmother?

I think this was my origin for instant gratification. I can defend by saying that as a kid I didn’t know any better. But am I behaving any different as I got older?

Instead of spending the time with my parents on the day of the occasion, I substitute this responsibility by buying them an Ipad. Instead of cooking an elaborate meal for them, I could take them to an expensive restaurant. I mean, I could marry a submissive wife and ask her to do all this for me. But you know who finds girls like that these days? All this “equality”, “empowerment” and  modern “education” has robbed them off all the culture they are supposed to have.

We work hard the whole year, bicker about our companies as soul sucking satans and suddenly become huge fans of them as they give out bonuses!

And we how do we spend our bonus money given to us by corporate gods ?

  1. Useless item we don’t have.
  2. Useless item we don’t need.

For eg: Buying a DSLR and a trip to a hill station. Where instead of spending our time embracing nature we will spend our time on getting the right shot the fucking bee which flies over a stupid sun flower. If I had a dollar for every pretty picture someone on my friends list took during their family holiday. I would be left with a dollar.

**************************** Back to Festivals ***************************

I love stories and I am sure most of us do. I think of festivals as a story through generations which have a simple yet unoriginal meaning. Like be good to people, bury your differences and love the people around you irrespective of their attributes, spend some time to introspect etc…. But I don’t see how throwing money at such occasions adds value to it.

Since when did Christmas and Diwali become an occasion for those who could afford it? When we parade around in our expensive gifts do we care to think about unfortunate? I mean how about the urchins and how much it would break their hearts to know that their parents would never be affordable to throw a spectacle like we get.

When I came to US my parents feared that I would forget what the festivals mean to us as Indians. That we would take up Christmas and thanksgiving instead of Pongal or Diwali or Ganesh Chaturthi. But if we treat festivities as an excuse to spend money then it is just like a robe. Christmas is no different than Diwali but it is just dressed differently.

My only worry is that I would slowly forget those stories and morals which underlined the spirit of festivals. I am worried that I wouldn’t put effort into making people happy, if at least for a day like my grandma used to do. But there is always next year!

Happy Holidays 🙂

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