I am talking of the late sixties when I was a school student, studying in a prime English medium school.
My parents were teachers; we had a basic living and trying to make two ends meet.
There was no TV, fridge and other paraphernalia of modern living at home. We had a Bicycle and a local bus to take care of our travelling needs.
My Mother often used to quote that…WE ARE MIDDLE-CLASS PEOPLE.
The division was clear and quite obvious.
The maid who used to come for cleaning, lived in a slum dwelling. She was of course from the LOWER CLASS.
The HIGHER CLASS people lived in very good houses in better localities and had all the modern facilities that were available in those days.
I used to get jealous and feel low, while the girls from the so-called higher class came to the school in Fiats and Ambassadors and talked in immaculate English about Enid Blyton and Mills And Boons.
There was a complex that is hard to explain at this stage now.
However, it was easy to understand the social and cultural divide.
After almost fifty years where I am on a pedestal to appreciate my academic and social achievements, and when I have everything available as a well to do professional … I AM CONFUSED.!
YES, I am confused because the social status divide, intrigues me.
Do I still call myself A Middle Class?
If I try to sneak in the upper class then, what will happen to the Ambanis, Tatas , Aseemjee etc?
Do I come in the category of the Basic people, with basic needs and problems.? still a Middle Class!
Recently I was visiting Mumbai and happened to brush with Dharavi.
My God! every house, the so-called slum has facilities that I have.
So, Where should I put this class.?
The Luxurious things of the past are now a basic necessity.
My children mock when I tell them the words like Surahi , table fan, Kerosene stove and others.
This generation belongs to the Sci-fi and touch screen world. They own it and use it with gusto.
To which class do they belong?
There is total mixing and confusion.
I recommend that there should be three sub classes to the three original classes …
JustRich………. falling in High class.
Lower middle…….fall in the Middle class.
Poorest….. fall in the Lower class.
Trust me, it is not easy to slot the people into this class divide.
What should be the criteria?
Per capita income or the style of living or the luxuries one possesses.
Times have really confused our way of living.
My next-door neighbour buys a Beamer …ON LOAN!
What to say?
Is he rich?
No, he is not rich. He is buying luxury and salvaging his status by ‘asking for alms ‘ from the Banks or finance companies.
This is making fool of ourselves.
But, who to blame? …This is the culture.
The future generation will be paying EMI for even a Cup of Coffee in a Five-Star facility with pride, showing to the world that they belong to the higher class.
The fact is that they are poorer than the poorest.
Let’s instill in the young minds to put gravity in their money saved. To buy luxury only when they can do a down payment.
Build a Capital!
Then label yourself with the CLASS , you belong to or want to be put in.