Friday, May 13, 2011

If you’ve got it, flaunt it

This is the mantra that most Punjabis live by. In fact, most seem to believe that even if you haven’t got it, you still need to flaunt it. Lavish displays of everything- money, clothes, jewelry, cars, weddings, homes, vacations, food, looks and words- are what are essential to the average Punjabi. And by average Punjabi, I mean me.

Over time, I have realized the importance of flaunting in my culture (read extended family). When I was younger, I did not quite get this game of one-upmanship. The things I valued most were my books, my education, my skills etc. Not that I did not value clothes, as I said here, I always loved wearing good clothes. But they were never a matter of supreme importance. Now, I have come to the conclusion that despite all those “educational” qualifications, I have to flaunt a lot of other things. It’s got to be subtle (not very subtle, of course) but it’s got to be done! Because, then they don’t accord you the requisite degree of respect. It has to be done to maintain “status” in the eyes of the world.

Chetan Bhagat got it right when he said “Marble floors are to Punjabis what US degrees are to South Indians” (2 States, 2010). Yes, that is a good estimation of what is valued most in the respective cultures. Punjabis have this innate need to flaunt. And they do it with such panache. Insert stuff in normal everyday conversation. That subtly but surely shows how awesome they are and how much awesomer their lives are. In a recent conversation with a cousin, I asked him why he hadn’t yet added me on FB, despite my friend request. Answer: I don’t go to FB much, but I’ve just bought a new Blackberry so I will definitely do more FB’ing and then add you. (Blackberry is India’s iPhone).

Since I live in the US, it is very difficult for me to flaunt my super-fabulous lifestyle such that my extended family gets to know (not that such a lifestyle exists). I mean, they still don’t know I have a gorgeous 46” LCD television, while they are stuck with measly 32” ones. How do I tell them? Or that I eat the most fabulous foods from over the world? Or go on exotic vacations (which I don’t, but even a random beach in SFO looks good in pictures).

FB now provides a means to do this. Atleast now I can let my family know more about my fantabulous life. But given the miserable internet connections in India and the fact that most of them login to FB about once a month, this still does not help much. So talking on the phone is the best way. However, if I can get a word in edgewise. Once they stop talking about their new marble-inlaid flooring house, teak furniture, new diamond necklace and the grand party they are in right now. Or their new Blackberry.

Once, I called up an aunt to wish Diwali. And was inundated with descriptions of the fantabulous Diwali they celebrated, with the entire colony getting together to dance and make merry. Of the great “Chinese” food that was served in the party. Another call, to wish my cousin a happy birthday and asking what he was doing, resulted in a description of the private farm house he was partying in at the moment. A third call ended with another aunt discussing the relative merits of Italian vs. Indian marble for their new mansion (Duh! Of course Italian). Another one was about the fabulous Chocolate Chiffon cake at the birthday party (you think you get such stuff only in Amreeka!). Another was about my aunt’s favorite perfume : Poison, of course. And she could buy it anytime in her boondock town.

My family is a master at the art of flaunting without actually flaunting. It is an art well worth learning. I find it very difficult to do, but am on my way. I am getting to know how to do it while not appearing to care. After all, this blogpost was all about my super-fabulous super-rich family ;)

(Image source:


Richa said...

Can't you simply tell them that whatever they do, you do it in "Amreeka"? Knowing how US is considered the ultimate place to live, study, shop, basically do everything: they can never matchup to you. I guess a simple statement: "I live in US" should do the trick...

Rachna said...

I wish it were enough Richa...but they do have such lavish lifestyles that I can never live upto here! said...

"this blogpost was all about my super-fabulous super-rich family" ... hahahahaha

I was about to say the same thing Richa said above :P

Being a punjabi myself .. I can totally relate to the post :)