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Identity Crisis…

Today we went to Pizza Hut for lunch. The service was prompt and the ambience comfortable. The price tag, dizzying. A whopping Rs.495.00 for a potato appetizer that looked so inviting on the menu but pathetic on plate, and a medium pizza  whose topping consisted of a smattering of cheese, sliced portions of two olives and one jalapeno, a diced quarter pepperoni and three baby corns.

The intrinsic value of what we had didn’t add up to more than Rs.100.00. But we were not only paying for the merchandise but also for the commercials, for the hoardings, for the air conditioning, for the location, for the service, for a host of intangibles that we didn’t realize consciously. They were not selling just pizzas or appetizers at Pizza Hut. They were selling an experience. What we ate mattered. But only so much!

The restaurant couldn’t sell the food any cheaper. If they did, the upmarket image of the chain would be lost. Customers came in not only to eat, but to be seen and heard, to be counted, to be reassured of their affluence and social standing. When dining at Pizza Hut, they were dining among equals. The rickshaw pullers, the daily wage workers, the janitors, the sweepers and the security staff that we saw outside through the glass windows did not figure in the scheme of things inside the restaurant. It was out of their bounds (may not be literally so, but socially so). Pizza Hut defined us, defined what we were; it gave us the stamp of authenticity. It was not a price tag, but a social tag. We were paying for our identities…..

We whipped out the credit card, paid up and left… We were still credit worthy….

Categories: Musings
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