Oh, well…

It sounds silly when people say, ‘We are all in it together’. We aren’t. We are in it, but in different boats, surging through the aftermath of the Big C. Some in tattered rafts, few in snob yachts and remaining in canoes slicing through

It is the new nasty. The growing gentrification of wellness that has grown from a warm cuddle to a full-blown onslaught—of tony getaways, soul-cleansing experiences in spas lounging in the Himalayas, shingled private beaches inviting you to strike a warrior pose midst a mandala etched on the sand… all at a chic price.

Wellness is the state of mind when you feel happy and healthy, mentally and physically. I feel happy when it’s nippy and braids of sunshine play on my skin with lazy ease. Or when someone prepares my cup of chai, with fresh lemongrass and ginger slivers.

Or when I burst into laughter over nothing, with loved ones. Or when I walk through the national park nearby… simple, inexpensive yet precious moments. That’s what makes us rich in our niche: experiences, emotions pulling us in all directions as we find ourselves over and over again. As the year ends, I find wellness to be a manufactured, ticketed, price-pegged affair.

Do I necessarily need to stretch my limbs at a swanky rejuvenation centre, or go mudding to find my chi? Can I ‘be well’ without taking off for a seven-star resort? Is signing up for kundalini awakening in a luxe mountain retreat the only way to awaken my chakras? “Wellness’’ is a saleable concept, rather than a humble, experiential it once was. Today, wellness is more divisive than inclusive. If you can afford it, you can “be well”. Else, scat.

The definition of wellness has changed, a decided price tag emerging in this shift. Everyone loves to look good, feel good. Hence, there has been a gargantuan (sounds scary, doesn’t it?), nebulous arrival of hundreds of home-grown beauty brands, brandishing the goodness of Ayurveda. Promising voluminous glossy manes, nourished scalps, luminous skin in weeks, with ageless, sleek-boned celebs as voices.

Everything from yak to camel milk, manuka honey to rosehip oil and blood oranges is hobnobbing with tranquilliser gummies, fragrant vaginal washes, pre and probiotic skin-soothers, glow-getter face gymnastics, frou-frou teas, luxe soaks, vegan towels. Pay a price, and be well: this roaring anthem makes me want to clobber the next thing that utters ‘detox’.

Inner tranquillity carries a tony tag too, with ads pounding your eyeballs to join the 5 am club to curate your 24 hours better, or sign up for pet therapy, or meditation memberships. Whatever happened to grandma lovingly oiling your hair into thick braids, or that simple run in the sun, a morning walk with mom or dad, or trekking the hills with friends? Striking a wellness chord isn’t compulsorily about meeting a productivity challenge or picking up a new skill.

Shilpi Madan for Sunday Standard

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