But as I watched two friends of mine discuss about whose friend had a bigger house, the words from the song 'Money on My Mind' played out in my head. Which made me think. When did I land up in a Lil Wayne video?
Before landing up in Chennai, my family and friends gave me a few pointers. You are an NRI, they said. Try to fit in with the others. My seniors were given far more stringent conditions to follow. Such as wearing simple T-shirts and slippers instead of shoes, lest they be sighted as rich foreign kids.
I walked into my college armed with the cloak of discretion. I would blend in, I thought. Nothing fancy. I ditched that idea five seconds later. Right about the time an Audi rolled up besides me. I'd never been in an Audi. A first year fellow got out of it, clicked the keys, and headed to class.
Over the next one and a half years, I was introduced to the world of wealth. Real money. Not money where you have a nice house, happy family and decent standard of living. No, I'm talking about the kind of money that forces you to switch between an Audi, a Skoda and a Honda to take you to college everyday. Or the kind of money that ensures your wardrobe is cleared out every month.
I heard figures that until then I'd only known in 11th Macro Economics, when we were learning about the Indian economy. 10 lakhs, 20 lakhs, 6 crores, 550 crores. It soon seemed like the zeroes were anaesthetised for some reason.
Finally, just like what happens when you listen to too much of Lil Wayne, I snapped. I had enough of the figures, the money splashing, the car gazing. Where did the good old days go? Like when I'd walk into a grocery store and pick out the costlier chips packet, and my dad would grimace for a moment before smiling and letting me have my way. I miss that. I miss thinking about money as a means to an end, rather than an end itself.
That's what I find dangerous around me now. The want for money. You can see it in the eyes of people around you. When they look at expensive cars, or fine looking watches. Money will never be enough, and I know this because ask a guy who gets out of a Honda Accord what he wants and he might say an Audi. Ask a guy with the Audi, and he'd say a Jaguar. Like my belly during the summer vacation, the craving for money only expands. We get used to what we have. We want what others have.
It's a race where in the end, no one wins. I remember hearing the story of a king who promised a runner that every mile he ran, he could own. Sounds like a great proposition, doesnt it? Not really, because the runner ultimately died of exhaustion, having run limitlessly without stopping.
This post isn't a rant against people who have expensive taste. Far from it, actually. Instead, this post is a reminder. To myself, for despite the engorging figures and ludicrusly overpriced products, like Frodo in Lord of the Rings, I can feel myself searching for Precious. Who knows, perhaps one day I'll look back on this post and think - what a naive idiot I was. Perhaps I'll become exactly the person I now despise. Perhaps I'll forget I ever despised that.
But whatever happens, I hope I don't get gold fillings in my teeth. That would just be sad...
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