Meet Mr. Pankaj Parakh, a real king of bling. He is a businessman of India who loves the glitter of gold, and so much that he rewarded himself with a 10-pound shirt for his 45th birthday, which has pure 18 to 22 karat gold. In celebration of his birthday, he intended to get noticed by not just the people of Mumbai, but also the Guinness Book of World Records.
Wearing the stunning and ostentatious shirt, he paraded on the streets, accompanied by bodyguards to protect his luxurious ensemble. His shirt was designed by Bafna Jewellers of Nashik and scrupulously finished by Shanti Jewellers at Parel in Mumbai, where 20 carefully selected artisans spent 3,200 hours over the past two months to ‘stitch’ it.
So, forget for the time being that with nearly a fourth of its 1.1 billion population that goes hungry, India indeed is the world’s hunger capital. As more and more reports of the global financial meltdown are pouring in and if you want to digest, set of millions of hungry people, is a fact that could be perceived as a grave threat to global peace and security. The UN estimates that hunger now affects one in six people, compounded by factors such as war, drought or floods, high food prices and poverty. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), there are 100 million more hungry people this year.
Here I recall a hearty discussion I’d with my boss about flaunting one’s wealth decades ago. Much of that is now erased from the radar of my fragile memory but what is left I’m sharing with the readers.
The rich people either inherit or build their fortunes. We stave off, for the times being, the topic about the urges and surges and the means to make money. Everyone knows how easy or difficult it is in different set of circumstances to create wealth. The least you have to do is to buy a paper-back edition of an author who had never made money before writing the book “How to build big fortunes.”
We talked about the conspicuous display or consumption of wealth. Does the rich-man feel guilty about it? My boss said, “I never felt guilty about the things I had to do when I was in debt. I felt I deserved them. I don’t feel that anymore. Now that my new paraphernalia is on its way, I feel happy to have it; I’m proud that I found ways to make as much money to lead the life of luxury.”
Of course, I feel ashamed that I’m able to afford all this while my little brother and his family are struggling to stave off bankruptcy. Yes, I know that his situation is largely a result of his choices, as mine is a result of my choices. But I know there are plenty of people in this world who have worked as hard as I have, but who haven’t had the breaks.
So, how do I handle my furniture of mind block – “I’ve decided that the best thing I can do is to continue my lifestyle, allowing myself occasional indulgences as I can afford them. I can’t settle the problems created by others. I need space to define myself and at the same time, I’ll continue to help as many people as possible improve their financial situation. Maybe if I can help others achieve wealth. But I won’t feel guilty about my own. I have a right to enjoy my life as I want, I’ve not created the disparities upon earth and I’m not a doctor of Universe. I’m a normal human being and simple business man.”
I remember I felt like accepting his argument. I don’t feel the dame today. I would love if my readers share their thoughts about the psyche of the man who can afford to don the Golden Shirt.
By: Naim Naqvi
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