The diverse nature of India is a subject of fascination for most foreigners. We in India are used to it simply because its all around us – depressing slums right next to posh residential areas, stories of opulence grabbing headlines along with those of extreme poverty. As consumers too, the diversity is apparent – glucose biscuits could very well be the only breakfast some can afford while there is a market for luxury brands too. India’s consumer buying power – 101 BMWs booked in one day in Aurangabad or the celebration of opulence through TV programmes like ‘Shaadi 3 crore ki‘ have made the news rounds.
The story that brought this alive for me was this one:
Years ago, a man visited the cosmetics counter of a popular departmental store in the Mumbai suburbs. He was ordinarily dressed and did not seem to be the kind who would frequent high end stores. What’s more he was asking for M.A.C brand of cosmetics – apparently the most expensive of the lot. He gave a list of products that were to be bought. He was given suspicious looks – thanks to his physical appearance. When enquired who it was for and if he had the money to pay for it (as the bill ran into several thousands) – he pulled out wads of currency notes. Turns out that he was a driver, who was flown in from Delhi that morning to Mumbai. His job was to pick up these cosmetics – worth Rs.50,0000 perhaps and fly back to Delhi – just in time for an evening sangeet.
Yes, we are like this only.