Monday, September 20, 2010
The 'Hotel California' Syndrome
“Hotel California” has been my favourite song for a long time. I know it’s old and old-fashioned, it’s very school-girlish and it’s definitely not the ‘in’ thing, but I still can’t help humming it at times. The theme of the song fascinates me and I kind of identify with it.
On the face of it Hotel California seems to be this coveted paradise, where everybody dreams to go someday: it represents all the hedonistic vices money can buy- a flashy lifestyle, women, alcohol; it smacks of sophistication, success, and the high life that you have admired for 20 years and suddenly it’s handed over to you on a platter. And just as you think your life is made, that you have ‘arrived’, and you are one of the ‘chosen ones’, you realize something is not quite right, that all the materialistic pleasures come with an unuttered disclaimer: all the luxuries come with a heavy price, i.e. your freedom!
So here is the analogy: as vivid in my mind as it gets. Brought up in a middle class family inculcated with middle class values, and restricted to a middle class lifestyle, you grow up (happily mind you), and then you watch TV, you interact with people, and you start yearning for more: not just in terms of money, but also in terms of respect, social status, and ‘success’ defined conventionally. So you do all the ‘right’ things: you work hard, you go to a reputed B school, you get a job with a well-known MNC and at a fairly early age you ‘achieve’ all that you had set to achieve: big brands (to wear and to be a part of), lifestyle, and possessions. Of course, the fact that your neighborhood aunty thinks you are best role model for her teenage daughter, is a huge boost for your secretly fragile ego, because you know what you do for a living: sacrifice your creativity, your passion, and your thinking as you get straight jacketed in a “process driven organization”.
So yes, in a way you are trapped inside the plush Hotel California: “you can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave”…