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How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid

How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid

Author:Mohsin Hamid
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Penguin Group, USA
Published: 2013-01-26T16:00:00+00:00


SEVEN

BE PREPARED TO USE VIOLENCE

DISTASTEFUL THOUGH IT MAY BE, IT WAS INEVITABLE, in a self-help book such as this, that we would eventually find ourselves broaching the topic of violence. Becoming filthy rich requires a degree of unsqueamishness, whether in rising Asia or anywhere else. For wealth comes from capital, and capital comes from labor, and labor comes from equilibrium, from calories in chasing calories out, an inherent, in-built leanness, the leanness of biological machines that must be bent to your will with some force if you are to loosen your own financial belt and, sighingly, expand.

At this moment, smoke and tear gas coil in the air above a commercial boulevard. A vinegar-soaked scarf hangs at your neck as you drive, ready to serve as a makeshift filter against the fumes. The riot is not ongoing, but neither is it entirely over, with packs of police out hunting stragglers. Around you broken glass and bits of rubble rest like five o’clock shadow on the city’s smooth concrete.

The building at the address you seek has been hit with petrol bombs, its whitewashed colonial facade blackened by smoke. The structure and its interior are by and large fine. But this is not what concerns you as you dismount. What concerns you is the delivery truck in the service lane in front, lying on its side, its engine and undercarriage smoldering. A total loss. There is no need to bother with the extinguisher you have brought, and, after a lingering glance, you wave your mechanic back into your vehicle.

Your mucous membranes ooze on the slow return journey. You roll down your window, hawk deeply, and spit. Your office is adjacent to your factory and storage depot, in the city’s outskirts, on one of a thousand and one rutted streets where a few years ago were only fields but now little green can be seen, unplanned development having yielded instead a ribbon of convenience stores, auto garages, scrap-metal dealers, unregistered educational institutes, fly-by-night dental clinics, and mobile-phone top-up and repair points, all fronting warrens of housing perilously unresistant to earthquakes, or even, for that matter, torrential rain.

Here along its spreading rim live many of the recent additions to your city’s vast population, some of them born centrally and pressed out by the urban crush, others tossed up from regional towns and villages to seek their fortune, and still others arrived as castaways, fleeing homelands to which in all likelihood they will never return. Here, as well, resides the physical hub of your enterprise. You have thrived to the sound of the city’s great whooshing thirst, unsated and growing, water incessantly being pulled out of the ground and pushed into pipes and containers. Bottled hydration has proved lucrative.

Your office, although structurally no different from its narrow, two-story neighbors, is distinguished by its gold-tinted reflective windows, selected by you and striking, to say the least. Stepping into your building, you feel an entrepreneur’s pride at observing your people hard at work, hunched over their desks or, as you pass into the corrugated shed out back, over machinery humming in good repair.



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