Tag Archives: chinese

how do the rich live?

23 Jan

London
I am reading this book which I borrowed from the library yesterday. It is ‘crazy rich Asians’ by Kevin kwan.
I was curious to see how he depicts the wealth and lifestyle of these rich Asians.
When u think about it, really rich people don’t really flash their cash about. Their houses are furnished in quite conservative ways. You just have to look at pictures of the queen receiving foreign dignitaries in Buckingham palace and see how ordinary (almost old fashioned) are the sofas and lampshades. There was even a 2bar electric heater in the fireplace. And that got quite a lot of comments. Haha.

So how would the author put the wealth of these rich people in Singapore on display?
Singapore is a small country so land is a premium, so the author put the hero growing up in a huge house in a huge estate in the middle of Singapore, in prime land. It is a description of a country estate in England, but plonked down in Singapore and hidden away so that even those who live there and deal in real estate were not aware of its existence. It is a fairy tale allright, but rather appropriate in the context of the novel.

Now I come to think of it, it really is difficult to show by sight, how wealthy a family is. Short of covering them in diamonds and precious stones the size of hen’s eggs, or drape them head to toe in designer apparel, name dropping like crazy all the well known as well as not so well known designers (unknown except to the elite of course); and even do a reverse snobbery by disowning Gucci and burberry as too common, haha. What else can one do to show how rich people live?

You can throw in the names of all the expensive car marques ,which is all very vulgar really. No wonder the really rich just don’t bother to put on this kind of show and dress very unobtrusively, in custom made clothes rather than branded ones.

It is the nouveau riche who put gold and gilt everywhere. And the author gave a good example of such a family, the Gohs. I think it stretches credibility a bit on the part of the reader to pretend these are really old rich families with pedigree. Singapore is such a young country, (about 50yrs old I think)even the old rich families are not that old rich really. I mean all of them stretches as far back as the great grandfather of these so called old families who would be from poor backgrounds who made their fortunes in the last 30-40yrs.
This context of old family might play better in Hongkong, which has a longer history and has the allure of the big kongsi houses as the origin of the great wealth amassed by the old families. Hongkong has a longer history. 

It is a good read, with the usual mix of unfaithful husbands, and one upmanships and status conscious mentality.

It made me suspect that really the rich dont live any more richer lives than ordinary people. granted there will be more expensive stuff around them, but really like the queen they will still eat their breakfast cereals just like any one of the poorer families. Nobody goes round eating caviar everyday, or drinking champagne like tea. haha. I suppose they can jet off at a whim, to any part of the world for a day or two, but i should imagine it loses its novelty after a bit.