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Friendship for Sale

I noticed my daughter checking out a Facebook album a few days ago.  I looked a little closer.  To my surprise there was a photo of one of her schoolfriends, at a function, probably a wedding, standing beside a Bollywood actor who has starred in several films.

"Is that a cutout?" I asked in surprise.

"That's Arundhati at her cousin's wedding.  He's a family friend," replied Mel.

A few minutes later another photo showed up. The same girl standing beside a woman who has been a major television personality in recent years.The celebrity was flashing her trademark megawatt smile.

"Family friend?" I asked.

"Yes," came the reply.

Well, friends are friends, whether they are unknowns or celebrities. The next day I was amazed to read in the newspapers that here in India film actors and television personalities make themselves available on rent.  They will attend your wedding for a price (an extremely high price), mingle with your guests and chat away with the host family.  The host family goes up in their friends' estimation and the celebrity pockets some easy money.

Well it may be fun for the guests, but it's pathetic on the part of the concerned celebrities, I feel.  In the normal course of things one hears that film actors, models and television personalities have no time for their personal matters, no time to attend their friends' weddings.  Yet, for a price, they will go to the wedding of someone they don't even know, just for money.  I consider that highly suspect.  That is so declasse and just selling your friendship to earn money.  Just think.  Just a month or so after being at your wedding they won't even remember your name!

This is not just in India, though.  Apparently, it's  everywhere.  I remember reading a feature years ago in an Irish newspaper once where a reader, on condition of anonymity, shared this story.  He and his family moved into a new neighbourhood and found that one of  their neighbours was a well known television personality in Ireland not just at that time, but for a period of over twenty five years.  This television personality  was what is known as a 'household name'. The family were giving a party and invited all their neighbours, so naturally they invited this celebrity too.   They didn't think he'd have time to attend, but they were pleasantly surprised when he did.

He came with his wife, he chatted to the other guests, had a couple of drinks and a bite to eat and left after a reasonable amount of time had elapsed.  Everyone was honoured and delighted.

Imagine the host family's surprise when a few days later, a bill arrived from the accountant of the television personality.  The bill was a huge fee for the 'personal appearance' at the party.

The host was furious.  Apparently he walked over to the celebrity's house, tore up the bill and told him to go to hell.

He never heard another word about the matter.  Just as well!

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