The Cream of the Crop
Srabonti Narmeen Ali
Cartoon by Shahriar Sharif
In every society there is an elite class worthy of mention because of its idiosyncrasies In the case of the Bangladeshi elite it is not, as is the case in other parts of the world, because they have done anything worthwhile or commendable. Rather it is the opposite. The elite of Bangladesh has, throughout the years treated the rest of Bangladesh, to a slew of idiosyncratic hiccups that provide us with, if nothing else, entertainment and often, when considering the future of our nation, a sense of impending doom.
I say doom because these people often have the control of our nation in their hands, because they are the class with the most power and money. In addition, they are also the class which is supposedly educated, although from what I have seen that is not always the case. After all, remember -- a bought education, while giving you the required certificate, will not make you any wiser. And while their English is refined and extremely accented in all the right areas, you will often find that when they sit down to write, their grammar is sadly flawed.
You would think that the women in this class are more empowered because of their social status and their background. This is not true. In fact most of these women are content to sit with their friends or relatives and either gossip all day about whichever unfortunate person is the hot topic right then, or if the juice on others is not tangy enough, they revert to their second and third most favourite subjects-- clothes and jewellery. While it is true that most women do like discussing these things with other female peers, the upper class overdoes it to a point of suffocation. In addition, they talk about how much this costs and how much more expensive that was, each person vying for the prize of the most exorbitantly-priced possession.
As a woman I refuse to believe that this is because women are just generally not interested in anything else. That is not the case. It is because they are taught that this is what women do. So even if they are interested in other things, these women are too terrified to talk about it for fear of being the only person who has (God forbid) a mind of her own. Perhaps a too intelligent mind will affect her chances of getting a proposal from some tycoon's son who is looking for a trophy wife.
In that sense middle class women in Bangladesh are far more emancipated. Because of their financial status, they can neither discuss clothes and jewellery to that extent, nor do many of them have the luxury of being a made-up doll sitting in daddy's office, and therefore, often have a better grip on the real world than our high society ladies.
Men, while required to act a little smarter in public, are most often just as obtuse, but for different reasons. Like women they discuss their statuses of wealth according to their many material possessions -- cars, phones, watches, gadgets and some are even silly enough to discuss their designer clothes. The really ridiculous ones boast about the presents they give their wives.
Unlike women some of these men pretend that they have some intellectual interests, but when they start talking about anything which is not related to money, you often wish they would not bother. Their comments border on insulting because they are so uninformed. These men think that money can buy respect, which is why the only people who really respect them are other men who are exactly like them. They think that it is completely ok to be corrupt, discussing business deals in which they managed to con the other person, all the while patting themselves on the back.
These are the men who are usually so dumb and lazy that their fathers have to buy their way into prestigious universities. Ironically enough, they do not hide this fact in shame but rather publicise it more -- almost as if they are proud of having more money than brains, which is unfortunately the case with the majority of them.
For the most part, the parents of these fine specimens give them the impression that they can do whatever they want and it doesn't matter because somehow or another, power and money will prevail over any wrongdoings and aberrations in judgment. Unfortunately our entire society caters to this bit. A mere trafficking violation can be bought off by a policeman who wants to make extra cash on the side. So why wouldn't the bigger things -- substance abuse, beating random people up, misbehaving in public -- be covered up? And while I understand that these parents want to protect their own children, I also wonder how on earth they can live with themselves bringing up these monsters? Perhaps because they are monsters themselves and it is totally normal behaviour in their eyes. After all they are the ones who made the rules.
It's very easy to hate the elite class -- they don't make any effort to endear themselves to the rest of the population. And while their behaviour should not affect anyone else, it does, because as I mentioned before, these fools are the future of Bangladesh. Our lives will be in their hands, and that is a terrifying thought. At the same time as much time as I have spent ragging on the elite of Bangladesh I also have to say that I feel in the tiniest way sorry for them. Being the most privileged people in Bangladesh they are also, in some ways, the biggest losers because despite the fact that the other classes are underprivileged and in need, it is the upper elite class who has no soul.
(R) thedailystar.net 2008