Home > General > Lifestyles of the middling middle-class

Lifestyles of the middling middle-class

At a friend’s birthday party last night, here are some of the people I met.

N (who I know from earlier) runs an start-up that promises “experiences” we will remember for life –quirky marriage proposals, midnight surprises, helicopter rides.. almost anything that you wish for can be conjured up, or can be presented as a gift for a loved one.  It’s apparent from their company’s rapid  growth that a whole of lot of us crave the  “life is not about how many breaths you take, but the moments that take your breath away” feeling. S describes himself as a naturalist and does wildlife tours to some of the most spectacular places on the planet. He’s made over 30 trips to the Masai Mara, and if that wasn’t interesting enough, also a few to the Artic and Antarctic. V is a technologist who came back to India after spending time away, and is currently blogging full time on Social Enterprises.

Even till a few years ago, “what do you do” conversations at social dos were entirely about the same Infy/Intel/Wipro/Cisco type of milieus (also a function of being in Bangalore, I guess). But of late, I’m amazed at the number of people who are making their living doing hatke stuff. Its not like my social circle has changed dramatically in the last couple of years. But it’s now almost de rigueur to run into someone who has started a bakery, or is looking at a vineyard, or a chain of chai shops.. anything except a regular corporate job. It does seem that the number of folks who are doing things other than a 9-6 weekday routine has increased significantly.  And these are all People Like Us, who have had the same middle class upbringing, held the same kind of jobs, have to deal with the same EMI issues, etc.

I’m aware that this is not a sudden insight and has been chronicled in the media. But it’s one of those things where you know it’s happening, you see it in the news, but it’s only when yet another friend tells you that she/he is ditching that well paying job and starting out on their own, that it hits home.

One way of seeing this is that for people of my age, stepping into unknown and uncharted life paths is an inevitable consequence of the transition from yuppiedom to mid-life crisis, the quest to find meaning etc. That’s a slightly cynical take, IMO. I see it as a positive cultural shift in the middle class approach to life, catalysed by the fact of being the first post-liberalization generation.  Hopefully, the next one will grow up without being brainwashed by the engineer-MBA-doctor-CA framework of career choices. Makes for a more interesting world, for sure.

Of course, all this also means one has the most interesting conversations at parties.   “How was last week? Pretty good, just got back from my Kenya trip,..lucky group… caught some awesome scenes of the great migration. How was yours? Good, good.. 146 emails, 11 meetings, even had lunch outside on Tuesday.” I guess the ‘I work at <name of large MNC>’ is now this generation’s version of the ‘I-started-and-ended-my-career-in-Indian-Overseas-Bank’ variety from our parents’ times.

So what does one do? One sips one’s scotch, raises one’s glass, and stoically saunters to the next conversation.

Categories: General
  1. One who must not be named :)
    September 28, 2012 at 12:13 am

    Wonder who are these jokers who are starting on their own :), have never run into them, all the parties I go for are still the MNC branded white collar folks 😉

    • October 1, 2012 at 5:31 pm

      Po da. First bakery, now quiz show..waiting for me to show up at the next party with a “L” board on my forehead or what! Best of luck for the quiz, will catch you at Counter Culture next time.

  2. September 28, 2012 at 9:39 am

    One guy who writes very interestingly about this phenomenon is Charles Handy. I first heard about the concept of a portfolio life from one of his books called the Flea and the Elephant. (we are the flea and the company is the elephant)… that was the analogy that got me seriously considering the other side

  3. October 1, 2012 at 5:32 pm

    Thanks, Srini. Will look him up.

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