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It seems not very long ago that the word "solution" had a particular meaning. In the 1990s, it suddently took on a new aspect, spreading like a heinous computer virus that no firewall could stop.

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It seems not very long ago that the word "solution" had a particular meaning. It was what came after the equals sign
in a maths equation, or what happened to a chemical when you mixed it with water: a cosy schoolgirl word with boundaries. In the 1990s, spurred on by the forces of the internet and New Management, it suddently took on a new aspect, spreading like a heinous computer virus that no firewall could stop.

Now, every Tom, Dixit and Hari offer "solutions" to absolutely everything. The guys who come to wire up your computers are no longer bijli-wallas but purveyors of "total network solutions." Banks are not glorified piggy-banks where you keep your money safe, they are institutions offering "financial solutions." Even the most humble seller of goods now has to re-brand himself as a seviceprovider. Gone are the days when a chair was a simple piece of furniture: now you have to deal with a company offering "Complete Seating Solutions."

Part of the problem is that with the complication of modern living, sellers have to offer more than just goods. If you
buy a chair from Complete Seating Solutions, you expect the seller to not only measure your buttocks for heft, weight
and ideal placement but perform a kind of vastuesque analysis of where the chair should be placed. It should complement the colour of your eyes, and synchronize with your décor. Everything about it should segue perfectly into
your life and your aspirations such that what you sit upon becomes an integral part of the trajectory of your life.

In the shift from life to lifestyle, we seem to have lost the ability to call a spade anything but an agricultural solution.
I can’t dig that.


This article originally appeared in Delhi City Limits, April 15, 2006


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