Updated: January 10, 2014 12:18:33 am
Anaesthesia does not happen only in the operation theatre. Outside the OT,theres permanent anaesthesia that people can get from which they dont wake up. It could affect at various levels political,societal or individual. For example,the resolve to return to Delhis electorate for an answer on whether without a clear majority a political party should form the government has upset the mind-balance of other parties whove never considered such a move. Political power is also anaesthesia. Now lets recount individual opulence anaesthesia with two women,not of high aristocratic stock,but who married into aristocracy. They got so engulfed in that anaesthetic living style,they became insensitive.
Farah: The daughter of Sohrab Diba,a middle-class man and Captain in the Imperial Iranian Army,found herself catapulted into deep pomp and pleasure to wear the 2,500-year-old crown of Irani. At the age of nine,Farah Diba lost her father. At 21,while studying architecture in Paris,her stunning beauty transported her into the royal arms of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi,Shah of Iran. She married His Imperial Highness on December 21,1959. The seed of anaesthesia was sown. In 1969,the title of Shahbanu (Empress) was created for her.
The Iranian imperial family was overthrown and legally abolished by the Ayatollah Khomeini-led 1979 Iranian Revolution. But she continues to consider herself Shahbanu till today. In her 20-year life with the Shah,he went to other women but she wasnt bothered as she was too busy being a part of royal society.
The Shahs two previous wives bore him no son. In a French television interview,she admitted that she was anxious during the first month when she did not conceive. Without bearing a son,her royal status would be short-lived. The second month found her pregnant and slipping further into anaesthesia. After 34 years of being deposed,she still maintains her family was ill treated at home and by other countries that refused them shelter in exile. Shes forgotten that her despot husband had formed a secret security agency called SAVAK that imprisoned over 100,000 political prisoners opposed to the monarchy,and inhumanly tortured them,as per a 1976 Amnesty Report.
Farah Diba claims her son Reza,who crowned himself Shah of Iran in exile,is the countrys only legitimate ruler. She fails to mention that Reza Shah,her father-in-law,was an army colonel who seized power in a coup in 1921,deposed the reigning Shah and crowned himself King. So in reality her pomp and pelf was a deception and ill-gotten.
Nadine: From factory worker to Baroness is another step into anaesthesia. Nadine Lhopitallier,a school dropout from a basic middle class French family,got a job in an automobile factory. Looking for more money,she became a model for a painter and used his high society connections to enter films in 1952. She changed her name to Nadine Tallier. In 1962,her dream came true; she became not just a billionaires choice,but crossed the threshold into European aristocracy. Lhopitallier to Tallier was shortening of letters,much like an artists signature. But Tallier to Madame Baronne Nadine de Rothschild was total displacement in family and social status.
Name,power and money are three essentials she consciously sought,and achieved them all in her marriage to Baron Edmond de Rothschild. Reminiscing her 40-year marriage,Nadine proudly explains in a TV show that a family cannot have two stars; the husband is the only star. To avoid divorce,the wife has to be submissive. She knew he was a womaniser,but she takes full credit for having done everything to keep her marriage by giving him space. She speculates that shes perhaps a sophisticated seductress because she always attracts billionaires: You cannot choose a rich man,he makes the choice. My husband asked me to marry him. I would never have married a plumber! Not being an aristocrat by birth she says shes not quite right for the Baron,but her hunger to marry into power,opulence,the title of Baroness,live in sophisticated society and surroundings,and travel around the world made her put on her calculated charms.
Even as a widow the last 10 years,she wallows in the glory of opulence. Shes opened a finishing school in Geneva where she counsels independent women professionals and dependent housewives to,Listen to your husband,remember he is the boss. She is aware feminists will oppose her,but this was her remedy to reduce the increasing number of divorces in the country. In her words,When you decide on your man,accept him in every situation. You may hear ungainly stories about him,face many problems,but take no action,nor ask any question. Just try to be beautiful always; other than that,dont do anything. According to her women have two characters,the image they portray and what is real,and it is upto women to keep the secret and never tell the truth.
In her recent book called The Men of My Life she frankly admits shed never have penned it if her husband were alive. Considering herself a representative of aristocratic society,she does not care when,being a workers daughter,people chide her for saying she will never marry a plumber. She openly tells women to numb their life the way she has done,go after money,power and name,be submissive and a slave to keep the rich,society husband. She says money is a powerful ladder,you can do everything with; become a writer,social worker,a society philosopher or a thought leader. She has written many books to run the childrens homes that she supports. A Baron can buy or sell anything, says the Baroness,I have done something good so our marriage went so well. This is the opulence of anaesthesia,with feet firmly on the ground at the same time!
Shombit Sengupta is an international creative business strategy consultant to top management. Reach him at
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