By Swatee Jog
It’s fast catching up in Belgaum…this Brand Business. From travel to snacks, from apparel, wellness, gyms and hotels to now gaming, brands are coming to Belgaum like flies to honey. And why wouldn’t they? It’s got it all, the money, the inclination and the patronage that comes with travel and exposure. Mine must be the last generation with memories of the era when Belgaum didn’t even have TV. Save for the lone antenna that we’d spot at Goaves, it was a novelty even upto the early 90s when ZEE TV had made forays. Today, my nephew tells me of his classmates’ sojourns to Dominos for Birthday parties while he himself straddles a hand-me-down tab with ease. With all this preponderance of brands across the city, Belgaum must still thank its stars for not yet going the Ludhiana or Bandra way. The beauty of the city still lies in the fact that no one will gauge your wealth or standing in society with the flashy logos on your bags and eyewear and watches. It is still so much acceptable to have it all and yet not flaunt it. Come to think of it, perhaps many of the old wealth families still move around in non-branded footwear, wear cottons with élan and eat out of the same restaurants and shop at the vegetable markets that most of Belgaum does. Thank the same stars that Belgaum is not frowned upon if one stays away from brands while the world is heavily bent upon. On the contrary, a large majority of even the nouveau rich would attract stern glances for that in-your-face indulgence in branded stuff. It’s a sign of a healthy societal ecosystem that while big brands may make a leeway into the city, the local ones still enjoy the patronage, where both flourish and cohabit.
Come to think of it, look around and check, how many of our neighbors, colleagues, friends or classmates own and wear ( an original ) Rado or Tag Heur or Tods or even Chanel No 5? Very very rare. They may own, perhaps, but they would feel so out of place to wear this in the city, everyday. And that is the beauty of this city that still places simple living on a very high pedestal. And this does not denote that Belgaum lacks the money. It has plenty of it. Look at the shops around all this fortnight which buzz with unending queues of customers with heavy shopping bags. But most of its people still prefer to invest in gold, real estate and the like and not in flashy brands.
Many prominent publications are coming out with their Luxury Issues this month to coincide with the festive season. Have a look and you’ll see glitzy watches, expensive wines, branded houses, bespoke suits and shoes, quirky gifts, leisure, even the now common Rs. 1 crore plus bathrooms. Apparently, many rich businessmen and filmstars in India have got themselves bathrooms that cost upwards of Rs. 2 crore. Now imagine that bathroom in a house in Belgaum!
Thank the stars once more for two reasons now. One, that Belgaum grows at night, when the Government sleeps. And two, it is not divided into the haves and the have-nots into demographics. The heart of the city and its suburbs has as much wealth as the glamorous areas, but the idea of wealth is still the same here. A person is accepted for what he achieves and not for what he wears. Friendships traverse financial boundaries and neighborhoods comprise of shared chatter and food and not jealous glances over that high-end car. Thank them once again, for the fault does not lie in our stars!
About the author:Swatee Jog is the Training and Placement Officer at Bharatesh Global Business School ( MBA Program). She has an experience of 6 years in the media and 4 years in academics. She has written extensively in the English and Marathi newspapers on Career, Technology and Management topics. She has spoken at various forums as a resource person and has published several research papers in management journals as well as 2 books.