Diary of a Kenyan girl in India

All that glitters is Gold!

Aishwarya- former miss universe and most beloved of all bollywood actresses adorned in gold

Women in India are obsessed with gold. More so in South India where I live. In my office all of them, yes all, adorn gold chains, gold earrings, gold nose and finger rings and even the lady who comes to clean my house wears real gold earrings and has about three gold chains around her neck! (I have been told that thats how one recognises a married woman). And I am not talking about gold plated stuff,  those ones you buy for cheap on the streets of Nairobi. Am talking about a few carats gold and they will tell you like its nothing “I bought this chain to attend my cousin Lakshmi’s wedding. Its 22 carats and I bought 10 grams which only cost me  Rs. 30,000”. WHAT?

Yes, welcome to India where even the poor man stores away gold from the day his daughter is born and gives it to her on her wedding day. This ensures she has something to fall back on financially and in fact the method has proven to be quite an investment. Forget stocks and property. Gold has multiplied 20 times in the last 10 years. Women who had gold worth Ksh 40,000 ten years ago now have gold worth Ksh 800,000. Its staggering and mind blowing. The financial people should say this stuff! I only knew this coz am here.

If you have no gold, you have nothing. Its even worse than being jobless. Its life, its what defines a woman, her family, her stature. That is why the cleaner will save every penny in order to have gold. The girls at work will spend their entire salaries on gold and not feel any remorse. I guess you can afford to do that if you live with your parents and only after marriage do you move out and start living with your husband (read on Indian love here).

And the men are in on it too. They will brag how they bought several carats of gold for their wives, how expensive it was bla bla. They also wear gold rings and gold chains but its not mandatory as it is for the women. And here’s an interesting fact, Indian men upon marrying are not expected to adorn anything, no ring, chain or put that dot in middle of forehead that women put- you know it, that red one, it means she is married. Therefore to know a man is married you have to ask.

So now, I have developed a defence mechanism for anyone who asks me whether my earrings are gold, or why I do not like to wear gold (how about I can’t afford to wear anything worth 50k on my body, or in Nairoberry they would simply remain tightly shut in a case with 2 extra padlocks?). I just say, at home we aren’t that into gold. Are we?

I leave you with one ad I like ( I can like the ads if am not buying 🙂  ) ..80% of all ads on TV are jewellery ads. Yes, show you love your mum by buying her some gold, your wife is mad at you? buy her gold. Be the judge.


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