The Journey of Luxury

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This appears in the August issue of The Man

WITH THIS COLUMN FOR THE MAN, I am embarking on a new journey and a new relationship. Unlike in the past (particularly when it comes to the latter) I haven’t often had time to ponder. Today, however, as I sit in a plush seat, 39,000 feet in the air, on my way to Toronto to watch U2 live in concert, I have ample time. And I am thinking about luxury!

I think luxury means different things to different people at different stages in their life. When you’re younger, say in school, anything that you didn’t have but wanted, and anything you couldn’t do but wanted to do, defined luxury. Getting that prized stereo, traveling, not having to give exams were definitely a luxury. Gradually that definition begins to change.

The thing about luxury is that, the moment you have it, it is no longer one. So as you get your first job, buy what you’d spent years pining for, you realise it is not quite the ‘luxury’ you thought it was. I suppose the Law of Diminishing Utility does apply. That car, that watch, that gadget, that luxury you’d been craving all along, ceases to be a luxury once you have it. It simply becomes a part of you.

So is luxury really an illusion? Probably yes. You ask some one who has it all, say Anil Ambani, and he’d probably agree (or at least thats what the rest of us can feel better thinking). I think this is because we allow other people to dictate what we should want and aspire for. We aspire to attain a lifestyle of luxury arrived at by some absolutely random authority. Some one out there has decided we should get a Rolex when we’ve made it, drive a Jaguar, holiday in St Tropez and of course fly private(jet, of course). But is that what luxury truly is?

To me, luxury is not something specifically material. It is a refinement of living rather than a necessity. It could to some extent be a lifestyle, but eventually luxury is about having a choice, a choice to be able to do things your way. A lot of people would agree that today non tangible things like time and space are a luxury. One wants to be able to have time to do nothing. One wants to be able to visit places that are yet untouched and serene.

My idea of luxury changes depending on how I feel. Sometimes it is a weekend in a ‘luxury’ spa hotel and sometimes it is in a cabin on a remote lake in the wilderness in Finland. It could be a new hand bag from Louis Vuitton or a bag I made at home from an old pair of Jeans. It could be the Chopard watch I am lusting after or the $30 ION rubber watch. Sometimes I think the hour I spend in the gym is a luxury. Time spent with loved ones and family is always a luxury.

In years to come anything that is scarce will be a luxury, Water, a piece of land, gold or that limited edition Hermes bag, those handcrafted made-on-order Italian shoes or that vintage no-longer-produced Omega. Stock up on it! I will be back next month with an entirely different and perhaps contradictory take on luxury in particular, and things in general. Because being always and never the same is the ultimate luxury. Consistency be damned!

9 Comments on “The Journey of Luxury”

  1. midhun

    You know what? I was about to leave you a comment to write something in this site once in a while. The I saw you have posted this article!

    Right now, I am enjoying the luxury of having enough and more time to do nothing. Mind you, most people ask me isn’t it boring. What do they know, it’s the best luxury. Somehow, luxury is associate with expensive things.

    I am also reminded of this interview with SRK where he was asked, “When did you feel you had become rich?” He said, “When I didn’t have to choose between the two t-shirts I liked, because I could buy both.”

  2. ramu

    followd by GUL on twitter is luxury 2 me………..:)

  3. Reeti Kalia

    Super Gul! I quite agree that luxury ceases to be so once u have it , and so it is an illusion. Nevertheless,one needs to pine for things, i think its important to want “that handbag”, or that watch or whatever it is that one wishes to have . Without this particular illusionary want , the journey called life would be so mundane and uninteresting! On that note iam hitting the highway to amritsar(ya ! for me amritsar is a luxury even as iam sitting here in an army camp just two hours away!) all by myself(a luxury for sure!), in a hope to travel back in history at jallianwala bagh and get some goose flesh while witnessing the retreat at the ceremonial India-pak border !All this after paying obescience at the Golden temple:)-Reeti Kalia

  4. Andrew R. Fernandes

    Sounds just like you!!! Nice read!

  5. Amit K

    I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer. – Jim Carrey

    The above quote says it all about what is luxury in real sense.. 🙂

    Love n Light!

  6. Ram

    You look Gorgeous

  7. Nikita Kapoor

    For me it (luxury) has deeper meaning, to just be yourself in the world of hermes and omegas is the ultimate luxury I can provide myself with. xoxo

  8. Chandan Negi

    Nice thought Gul.

    I think luxury at a very basic level is nothing but DESIRE….Luxury exists because desire exists…. for someone who could kill or control his desire Luxury doesn’t exist….i think one could consider three broad features of Luxury….
    Firstly its “Relative”….meaning as you rightly said it means different things to different people….ask a Blind person..what is Luxury….”being able to see the world” dont you think, he would say….ask a hungry person…for him humble ” Daal Roti” could be ultimate luxury….for an illiterate “being able to read or write” could do the trick….
    Secondly its “constantly evolving concept”….so the moment Blind person gets a pair of eyes…he is able to see and perceive the world…so a new set of desires take birth…so on and so forth….
    Thirdly its “time specific” … may crave all his life for an expensive Louis Vuitton bag…but if you are struck in a desert …all you need is clean drinking water…..
    never ending debate i guess… 🙂

  9. madhvi

    luxury is a word which is difficult to define as it varies from person to person . might be for a poor person meaning of luxury is getting 3 time meal every day for a rich person having a dinner in an open terrors of a 5str hotel. Luxury is something that when you get you fell satisfy and when you don’t have you have the importance of that .for me luxuries lie in the effort which you do to earn money and fulfill all the basic needs ….. but I ma happy that Gul with what all you think it shoued really be applauded.

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