By Akanksha Goel
#1 THE RED OBSESSION
But in an instant came the explanation. There was nothing wrong with the wine; these were pure flakes of 24-carat gold added to the Californian Chardonnay by the manufacturer simply for additional “wow factor”. And it worked. The group of well-dressed men and women laughed and smiled and lifted their glasses towards the light, better to see the wine sparkle.
In India, wine is being drunk as never before. The next year, as for the past half-dozen years, sales are expected to increase by at least 35 per cent and perhaps even more. Partly fuelled by India’s newly buoyant consumerism and partly by the increasing numbers of people travelling abroad for business or holidays, wine has rapidly become the latest symbol of affluence and supposed sophistication for the country’s newly wealthy middle-classes. Like carrying the right handbag or driving an elegant car, nothing says “I’ve arrived” better than to be seen swirling a glass of red wine.
#2 THE PET
Pint-size pugs scream early ’90s, and a chocolate Lab is far too L. L. Bean. Today’s “It” pets are regal, slightly exotic breeds that are as aloof as their owners. Rhodesian ridgebacks ﬁt the bill. Also known as African lion hounds (they’re indigenous to the former British colony now known as Zimbabwe), they exhibit a digniﬁed and reserved temperament befitting the elite. A liver-colored nose can send the price of a male puppy into the thousands; training game dogs to forget about tracking prey and learn to sit, stay, and heel commands an even higher price. Fittingly, the one thing custom breeders avoid in Rhodesians is the same trait that proper Bostonians recoil from: lack of pedigree.
#3 THE BUSY-NESS
There’s a new status symbol for the current generation. No, it’s not an alligator or a man on top of a horse playing polo. It’s not the expensive ostrich skin bag or the latest German-engineered car either. The new status symbol of the current generation is “BUSY-NESS.”
It seems totally respectable that we’re either busy or seemingly busy. Busy-ness has become a way of life. We’re online all the time. We’re digitally connected every moment. Screens dominate our lives. We used to have just one kind of screen – age-old television. Now you and I look at multi screens every day. When I come home, I open my TV to the news; that would provide me background noise. Then I open my iMac, look at my cellphone and compare notes using my ipad. Four screens! Who knows how many more will come in the near future? And as if screens aren’t enough, we now also have spectacles that are anything but spectacles! These have a small screen that tells the time, date, weather and temperature. Through voice recognition, these glasses enable the wearer to command the contact menu, dictate a message and send it via Facebook. This brings us to the ‘busy generation’.
#4 THE SLEEP
And so the new status symbol is not a possession at all, it is an experience. It is…sleep.
There was a time, some decades ago now, when sleep became unfashionable. The high status behaviour was to forego it. Just as lunch was for wimps so was sleep. In the 1980s to say you needed your sleep was the sort of statement that stopped traffic. You might just as well have said you liked small, neat hair and a natural shoulder line on your jacket. Ridiculous!
And there are still macho enclaves where to not be at your desk eighteen hours a day is to be a part-timer. But the new, high-status behaviour is to sleep lots, and sleep early. Exhaustion is for the masses, not the important people. Only last week a friend told me that she is a mess without her full nine hours. I was shocked since I have never had more than seven hours sleep in my entire life, but she’s younger than me – or maybe she just looks it.
In articles about high achievers now, there is a common theme as they all make it known that they get huge great slabs of sleep. These are people who may rise at dawn to carry out a full programme of self-improving activities, but that’s okay because they went to bed at 8pm.
“I’m always under the covers before 9pm” any chief executive hoping to go even bigger places will say. The sub-text is that work is just part of a full, rich life. These people are so good, they are telling us, they don’t need to put in long stressful hours, and they don’t need to stay hooked up to gadgets the way they rest of us do, as if we were all in intensive care and Google was our intravenous drip.
#5 THE PRIVATE ISLAND
When you think about your dream life, what does it look like? There’s a good chance it involves lazing your days away on the beach — on your own private island perhaps — complete with a mansion, staff and, oh, not a care in the world.
For the mega-wealthy, owning an island is the ultimate status symbol. Lucky for them, they often have the private jet to make getting there a breeze.
From CEOs to movie stars to titans of business, private island ownership spans industries. The only requirement: Lots and lots of money.