I have a small circle of very close friends. At best, it’ll be a metre across if we stood holding hands. Er. That would be an awkward sight.
Of this circle, one is Kunal. He’s a regular chap with simple needs and doesn’t obsess over much. Other than maybe gadgets. He’s been a tech developer, a tech journalist and is now Product Director with a leading tech firm in foreign land. But beyond his enthusiasm for technology, he’s rather simple.
Human evolution has made covering up of bodies an imperative practice. Think of how it’d be if over 7 billion of us were roaming around naked. It’s godawful to imagine. And yet you did.
Archeologists, in 1991, found a guy from around 3,400 years ago in the Ötzal Alps at the border of Austria and Italy. Because of the location, and lack of imagination, he was named Ötzi. It’s strange. Usually, elders name the younger ones. Here, it’s the other way around.
Anyway, Ötzi, a naturally mummified human from the Stoneage, was found wearing ‘shoes’ — leather shoes! A combination of deer- and bear-skin with hay for comfort. There wasn’t any landscaping or Golf-course levels of pleasantness so it’s natural to think that almost 3,500 years ago, shoes were chiefly for protection and comfort.
It’s much the same today. Despite the amazing landscaping and countless Golf courses all over the world, the main purpose shoes serve is protection. Beyond their usage, shoes have grown on to become status indicators and culture definers. They are unspoken mode of expression. Shoes are identity outliners.
Corporate culture has evolved immensely over the years. A couple of decades ago, if you wore sneakers to work, you were looked at with contempt. Today, it means you’re cool and have a confident personality. Shoes have a psychological impact on people.
I have a bit of passion for shoes. I’m not the I-have-a-separate-room-for-shoes kind of a guy, but I do buy a pair every once in a while. I don’t need them, and yet I do. You get it, right — that itch? It’s that.
Luxury shoes aren’t my thing though; I’m not a Punjabi rap-singer. I mostly go with the regular ones — normal sneakers or the running kind.
Kunal often slurs me for pushing him into this endless universe. I’m fine with it — I mean well for him. On many occasions we have exchanged texts all day long with nothing but links to shoes we like. And watches. Oh well, this seems to be quickly spiralling out of control.
Yes, we share a passion for watches as well. But I didn’t influence him into this, he was already smitten from before. I envy a couple of watches he’s procured lately. I’ve shared with him pictures of a couple of watches from Omologato that I’m keen to have. I also have my eyes on a piece each by AVI-8 and Nordgreen.
Again, we aren’t lost in the world of luxury. We gravitate towards interesting watches which are also affordable. We are very regular, very normal blokes.
This pull for uniqueness extends to cars as well. When he was buying another one a few years ago, Kunal wanted something good but not regular. He settled on a car which roughly qualified. Robust, enjoyable, high-quality and pain-in-the-ass sometimes. One of my two cars is also the same. Just, now eight years in, it’s a pain-in-the-ass all the time.
And that’s the thing — you don’t have to look at the pricier end of the spectrum for interesting cars. There are plenty unique things to buy even in the affordable segments. If you are keen to buy Ignis, go buy it. It’s a fun little thing and even looks interesting. Or ugly if you’re a right-winger.
Things get even more interesting if you open yourself up to the used-car market. I always found the Ritz quite appealing. People thought it was a pig. It wasn’t, it was simply polarising. Much in the way that the Peugeot 309 and Fiat Uno were. Look at them now — they’re icons in their own right!
I’d love to enter the cave of crazy and come out on the other side with a Kizashi or a Mondeo. A W124 Merc in good nick would be epic. Or an Octavia Combi; a Mitsu Cedia. Or a Toyota MR2. Dammit, what have I done — I’m jumping in my chair in excitement!
What I’m saying is — vanilla is good, but try a perky blueberry next time? Or something funkier?
The point is, don’t be scared to deviate from the normal. It’s absolutely fine — it’s wonderful rather — if you have a small element of eccentricity to yourself. Be proud of it. Wear orange sneakers, sport a yellow watch, have cool frames, buy a quirky car. Why not! Right, Kunal?