Arvind Jayaprakash (anomalizer) wrote,
Arvind Jayaprakash

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Trading up

8 days ago, I picked up a 530 page book titled Trading up and managed to finish reading it yesterday. That is quite an achievement by my standards and is indicative of my opinion on the book.

If I had to opine on the contents of the book at face value, I'd say it is a very unflattering view of humanity; at least of the upscale Manhattan populace. It is one of those worlds where everything is a commodity that comes with a certain price. The protagonist is a character who at the outset appears to be a gold digger but is really a social climber. A variety of characters from one tends to find in the company of such people are sprinkled over the plot. The world views of each one of these characters make for an interesting read. While not much of it comes as a surprise, I liked the way it was all woven together to make it appear like one continuous tale.

As far as my personal beliefs are concerned, I think my prejudices about the rich and famous get reinforced from the story. My belief is that there is such a thing as sufficiently wealthy and anything beyond that is highly toxic. If I were to ask you to compare the wealth of Warren Buffet with say the annual salary of Jay Leno, you would say that there is a difference ($60 billion v/s $20 million). And then if I were to compare it with say with $600K, you would again say that there is a difference. The difference exists if you are trying to get yourself a Ferrari and then a house with big enough parking place for it in the right neighbourhood with the right kind of view. Or you would say that the Ferrari is an overkill and all that you aspire is for a Louis Vuitton handbag. Or maybe simpler, you just want to have a Dom Perignon to celebrate your birthday.

Once you start going down that route, one mostly ends up trading something for it. There are things in this world that are incommensurable with money. While one can buy more things with more money, what needs to be observed in what currency did you pay for to get that money. That currency can be things such as honesty, trust, goodwill and host of things that would make this post seem like a demi moral science class. While I would not dare being judgemental to the extent of calling something right v/s wrong, I would however insist that one makes these choices after consciously choosing to embrace a certain Weltanschauung.

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