I am lying in a darkened room atop a high wooden bed. Soft mantras play in the background and a bergamot and lavender candle burns its sweet fragrance through the room. A masseur with the gift of touch and the skill of years of training kneads my muscles with just the right amount of pressure, lulling me to sleep and stimulating my senses at the same time. Around me are strewn rose petals, fluffy towels aplenty. The décor evokes its Ayurvedic ethos – Sanskrit scrolls share space with copper bowls and wooden stands. Technology plays a vital but discreet role – the showers come with six power settings; the massage bed has a drainage system built into it; the body scrub mix lies icy cold in a hidden mini-refrigerator cabinet until required, when it will be conjured out of seemingly nowhere. This is a five-star deluxe hotel in Kovalam, Kerala.
Cut to more than 1,500 feet above the ground in one of the highest restaurants in the world – sitting on top of Toronto’s CN Tower, the tallest of its kind. Our table is set with all the cutlery required for a five-course meal. Our server is suitably uppity and speaks in hushed tones, but has a redeeming twinkle in his eye. The food he suggests is varied, flavourful, expensive and served pretty. The 360-degree view of the city is astounding. That we are moving in a slow, sedate revolution is only confirmed by the changing panorama; the award-winning wine in my glass stays still.
Luxury is a matter of perspective. To one, it may be opulence, the grandness of the décor and service. To another it may be the attention to detail, or a product’s masterful functionality. To a frenzied city bird like myself, with a dozen activities to do at any given moment, it is time that spells luxury. To be allowed the space to shut off the phone and e-mail, to lie or sit back in comfort and let someone else do their stuff, to focus on sensual pleasure and switch off the frenetic wanderings of the mind – that is the ultimate deliverance. It is for this extravagance that today’s moneyed are willing to travel the world or shell out huge amount of currency notes. While have-nots aspire to wealth, fame and fortune, the haves spend it in favour of time, peace and silence – served well-done, of course.
Perhaps it is just a matter of craving for what you think you lack. I wonder what is next, though. What is next, after you have attained the luxury of time and peace? Will we create a busy new world again?