Keenly observed, sharply plotted and full of wit and brio, Mahesh Rao’s Polite Society reimagines Jane Austen’s Emma in contemporary Delhi to portray a society whose polished surface often reveals far more than is intended.
We humbler mortals would think that an actual house anywhere in the vicinity of the NCR and money without any visible employment, would mean a permanent state of bliss. But as it turns out, the rich have their own problems to deal with.
Read on to feel a sharp stab of sympathy for these six truly awful Rich People Problems!
The sheer futility of art fairs when by even a faintly glamorous foreign celebrity is nowhere in sight
“Excitement rippled across the front lawns as it emerged that there had finally been a sighting of Diana Ross. Determined to make up for other disappointments a group of jewelry designers from New Friends Colony elbowed their way through the main pavilion, gesturing at the tall figure being guided around some hanging steel pots. But the thrill dissipated soon enough-when it was discovered that the lady in question was in fact the wife of the Rwandan ambassador to India.”
The sordid places the best people have to descend to, to remain the best people.
“Nina would not go so far as to call it a humiliation but it was certainly depressing. The best people were being invited to flashy restaurants that overlooked the flyover. The venue for a book launch might be at the end of a corridor of sports shops in a shopping mall.”
Being aesthetically disappointed by your pet philanthropic projects
“Anyway, one night we were walking through the Marais and I was astonished to see a restaurant that served their cuisine. It seemed like fate so of course we went in. Such a disappointment, I can’t tell you. Everything tasted of some dreadful sour fermented liquid, and horrid bits of pork fat. I mean, it’s too awful of me, but after that meal I couldn’t help but feel far less sympathetic towards them as a people.”
The suffering experienced on private yachts
“He hated yachts, where he ran the danger of being confined for long periods of time with objectionable characters. He was also convinced that they were breeding grounds for virulent bacteria, which would only result in a boatful of passengers vomiting in the wood-paneled aisles.”
The stress induced by the precise science of invitation- dispensing
“There were questions of future utility to be balanced with the danger of current solecism. Favours sometimes had to be returned but in the correct measure and on the appropriate occasion.”
And that most indescribable of all horrors-the pain of watching a truly insufferable \ social climber ascend to wealth and prominence
“Year after year, Nina had watched Silky inhabit her role as Mrs Chhabra, settling into its splendid nooks as though she had been born to it. She had traded in her social insecurities for a jangly new personality, in whose service bad manners masqueraded as benevolent plain speaking.”