Growing up in a middle-class family in an emerging economy like India means your scope for 'luxury' is pretty limited. Utility is the way of life, and an 'upgrade' means chocolate ice cream over vanilla. Nowhere is this utilitarianism more apparent than in middle-class washrooms across South East Asia.
Often the dingiest space in an already 'modest' accommodation, with withering PVC fittings, stained tiles, leaky faucets, and a musty odour perpetually lingering, its a peculiar contradiction - a somewhat dirty space you'd go to clean up.
Growing up this way, the zenith of luxury a kid could possibly imagine was not a Rolls Royce, Private Jet or a Rolex. It was an opulent washroom - the 'five star' kinds, the kinds you could sleep in, the kinds where you could eat off the floor.
Coming to think of it, it wasn't as much about the bath fittings, even the colour of the tiles or the bright lights. It was the cleanliness, the absence of bad odours, and the sense of space - specs of civilised existence every person must ideally be granted.
Unfortunately, the world is not fair. And using 4*6 feet washrooms for over a decade comes with emotional baggage. That means you're constantly hunting for escapes in lifestyle sections of English newspapers - especially the ones with premium sanityware ads.
Luxury bathware ads are all about the experience - about making a 'bold' statement, about 'rejuvenation' and being 'extraordinary', i.e. all things desirable, i.e. everything missing in your miserable life.
Here, sample some gem copywriting over the past decade and a half...
"Thoughtful is beautiful..." - Hindware
"Always in fashion." - Parryware
"Feel the euphoria every day" - Modern Bathware
"Slim is in." - Cera
"Water on your own terms." - Kohler
You'd be mistaken to think you're being hawked a way of life, and in a way, you are.
You are being insinuated that an overpriced piece of pretty stainless steel can solve your life's worries, it can't. You're being hinted that having a swanky washroom to go is the pinnacle of achievement - it's not. You're being force-fed a rather hollow brand narrative of the definition of 'boldness', but there's more to life than that.
But your impressionable young mind is lapping this up like a young crackhead jacked up on coke. That's how you land with a hyper-romanticised, almost fetishistic obsession for luxe washrooms. And it can be crippling.
Imagine walking into a glitzy bathware showroom, and seeing your month's paycheque written on a rather unassuming commode. You ask the disinterested sales associate why this model costs four times the other (also unassuming) one. He claims the difference is in 'design', you spot nothing different. You look around, pointlessly roam around for a bit, check a couple of price tags. Your eyes water.
The mind-numbing stupidity of the exercise exasperates you. Why does a goddamn sink cost as much as the monthly paycheques of 5 entry-level media professionals?! Are their salaries too low, or the sink too expensive?
But you are jacked to the tits on this bathroom renovation project...and you're too much into it to go back. You have nursed these lofty aspirations, these 'wet' dreams for over a decade and a half, collecting bathware newspaper ads in a binder since your childhood. What about the time you held it in, so you could relieve yourself before the press conference at the glitzy five-star hotel?
Are you ready to let it all go?
In a fit of desparation, you consider donating your kidneys...you're now spiralling into a bottomless pit.
Welcome to adulthood.