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To be or not to be

If the face is beautiful, we promise we will ooh, if the mind is intelligent, we assure you we will aah. But we are not, we refuse to be, even the slightest bit impressed by a little Reebok, or a big, fat D&G on a shirt, and the value of money they represent. They're clothes, we say. Pieces of fabric put together by some machine under the supervision of an exploited worker, stuffed into shiny plastic bags and sold at an exorbitant price in air-conditioned shops. We fail to see the importance of the brand in this process.

This time, however, we will leave it at that, because there was an Economics exam today, and we have been reading about the free market system and now have a vague notion that these people might possibly have the right to free will. Therefore, they may, in all legitimacy, buy this overpriced, branded item of clothing, and we will say nothing. What we object to is their insistence on telling us how very expensive it was.

Obviously, they think it is something that will improve our opinions of them. We will give them the benefit of the doubt and assume this is not because they think we are shallow, for that would really get them into trouble. In which case, it must be because they have nothing else to impress us with. Perhaps if they had gone on about their ability to bargain prices down to half of what they were, we wouldn't have minded so much, because that would have been an actual talent of theirs. The money they can afford to spend, however, isn't a part of their characters. It neither makes them more interesting nor more attractive. Therefore, the weights of their wallets, whether great or small, is of no consequence until they mention it.

It is when they begin to brag that we begin to judge. Do they think they are not good enough without their Nike signs and double Chanel Cs? What insecurities are they hiding by drawing our attention to their, or their parents' affluence? If they think money is important to us, money must be important to them. So are they superficial? What kind of friends will they be, these braggers, judging us by our shoes, our watches, our haircuts? Will they sneer at our favourite hole-y t-shirts, purchased for a mere one hundred taka at Dhaka College market? Will they shrink away from us at restaurants, embarrassed to be associated with people as poorly dressed as we are? The assumptions roll in, fast and furious, the defences spring up. We want nothing to do with these people.

But now, suddenly, we are struck by a thought, little and annoying, that worms its way into our head and flattens all our arguments so far. What if the brandies claim that they never aimed to impress anybody in the first place? What if they say that all they ever wanted to do was remind themselves out loud of how much money they were earning? In that case, we have little for them but a superior roll of the eyes, and a suggestion that they paint faces on the mirrors in their rooms and go and talk to them instead. They, at least, won't slap them round the backs of their heads.

By Shetland Pony

'Now it's all about Versace, you copied my style…' --------- 2pac, Hit 'Em Up.

Isn't it annoying when your 1500 taka original Polo is confused with a 90 taka fake Polo? Of course it is. Considering the effort required for acquiring such a gem, one needs to remind others of the hard work. Therefore, it shouldn't be a cause for scorn when someone, carelessly, reminds their peers of just how much their original piece of garment actually cost.

What is wrong if someone, casually, mentions the price of his wares? Where is the harm in such a trivial statement? Is it jealousy which arouses the criticism? Or is it the inferiority complex that dribbles down your throat, as you swallow your pride and admit to yourself that you could never afford to spend so extravagantly? A person should, in all cases, take pride in his or her ability to purchase top-of-the-line clothing. The inherent trait of bragging is more deep-rooted than that which meets the eye. Usually the boast is about the brand, but cheap knock-offs which have flooded the market, makes mentioning the price a bit necessary. Right? Or else who would know the watch gleaming on my wrist is an actual D&G unless I tell them it cost me in the region of 25 grand.

Before you draw the knives, pause and ponder this for a minute. If we are expected to keep mum about how we over-paid, then what gives anyone the right to boast about how much they can bargain? How is it that it's bad to mention how much you spend on a branded, good and perfectly acceptable to state how you bargained and saved so much money on a fake good? A society which actively supports piracy and frowns upon people who are trying to keep the market alive is in some serious error.

Now some may shrug and angrily bat their eye-lashes, but the fact is, they dig people in cool threads. They will never openly admit their fascination with branded goods but try presenting them with a pair of knock-off sandals from Chandni Chawk or an Adidas watch from Farm Gate and see the reactions. Doesn't look so good now does it? And how many of us have ever actually pulled off a great first date wearing threads from Dhaka College? None. If you have, I am sure you didn't take her to a Chotpoti stand. Even food have brands, people just choose to ignore that element.

The same applies when you are going for a hair-cut. Men opt for the better barbershops and women opt for the better parlours. The brand craze is completely fine if you live within your means and if your means is luxuriant, then go for it. Don't be cheap and don't encourage people to be cheap.

Of course there is a fine line that needs to be drawn between bragging and then nauseating braggadocio (read 50 Cent). That is the one line you mustn't cross. Do not shove your lifestyle onto someone else's face and wait for the right moment. Also do not boast in pauper circles. And finally, always remember, no matter what they say, branded goods always look good and will always make you look good. So why not pay the price?

By Osama King Rahman


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