27 July, 2021

Epicure Shrugged

Wealth and pleasures have collapsed the traditional boundaries of the middle class

Narendra Bisht
Epicure Shrugged

Something has changed. There was a time when anyone with a voice that could be heard described themselves as belonging to the middle class. We still do that, but that is merely to emphasise our rootedness. When we speak of the middle class today, we speak of it in the third person, as if that description belongs to someone else. Representations of the middle class tend to be self-conscious enactments; in this imagined middle class, people wear half-sleeve sweaters while driving a scooter, a la Rishi Kapoor in Do Dooni Chaar. The common man is no longer one of us—but someone who was once us, and now makes us feel all nice and nostalgic. In this sense, the middle class is becoming less a category that describes people from a certain station in life, more a description of the India that once was and now can never be, outside of a film. It doesn’t have to do with affluence, but with the implicit awareness that what we called middle class then is no longer an adequate label for what we are now.


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