We’re only building grandiose places to live in, not the manners to go with the lofty ambitions we have.

I was at the head of the queue at the clubhouse this evening, waiting to place my order. Along came this lady who’d been selecting ice cream for a long while at the refrigerator nearby. She shoved me aside and pushed ahead to make her payment- why, indeed, the hurry, especially because there was some more dilly-dallying before she finally made her purchase? It is not the first time this has happened- I have seen people cluster around the counter, insolently regardless of the few people who do bother to queue up.

Superficiality abounds at the township I live in. The disparity between the rich and the poor comes to the fore- not that people are to blame for living comfortably (defined in relative terms), they deserve what they get if they have worked for it. If only people could also realise that everyone should be treated with civility, and that purchasing power isn’t a determinant of how much respect one deserves. Faux accents, branded bags and designer clothes do not conceal their lack of civic sense; this township is an extremely good place for case studies. The amount of time the well-dressed ladies here invest in looking other women up and down and making loud judgements could be better spent introspecting and working towards more reasonable causes.

I have always lived among people who have believed in simplicity and frugality; a year in Singapore with its high-end malls every few streets didn’t make me feel like I lived among people who wore Armani nightdresses. This is my first real look at ‘high living’, but let me make it clear that I have nothing against the prodigal children whose pockets overflow with more than they can spend. (I am so reminded of Ka-Ching here.) There is a point, though, beyond which a good lifestyle dissolves into self-centred ostentation. Hopefully, the specimens of ‘sophistication’ I’ve seen aren’t all as callous as they look and know that there is something we have to give back- because if appearances are to be gone by, we don’t have a very healthy future in certain aspects.

PS: On a tangent, I saw a heavily made-up girl (who must have been twelve or thirteen) last evening, and she was reading as she waited for her order. Excited, as usual, to find another reader, I tried to get a peek at the name of the book. What I did manage to make out from the bright pink cover was the name of the author- Meg Cabot. I just hope the girl reads other writers as well to neutralise the effects of heavy-duty chick-lit.

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