The increasing cost of living

In 1985 my father was posted in Akhnoor, Jammu (a border area) and thus couldn`t take his family along. Back then, I was 10 years old and was studying in the fifth standard. Every month, my father would send Rs 1500 to my mother, who would then manage the four-member family (me, my two sisters and herself) very comfortably. There never was a thing that we wanted and didn`t get.

I will be honest – there were some restriction on purchases. Big Fun (I don`t know how many of you actually went on to score runs, pick up wickets and win the prizes!) could be bought daily and Gold Spot could be bought weekly once. Éclairs chocolates were costly and hence were substituted by Parle`s orange candy. T-Series cassettes were Rs 11, and hence beyond the range – maybe that`s why even today, nobody in my family listens to music.

Today, Rekha and I end up spending Rs 1500 for a single dinner itself. Especially if it is a marriage reception and the person getting married is a Vice President in your company and thus holds the key to your success. Life today sure is costly than what it was earlier.

A week back I read in the papers that the petrol prices have gone up. But this hasn`t changed what I put in my petrol tank. I might have discovered that Gripe water costs less per liter…but haven`t started using that to fuel my car, yet.

Initially, I did worry about the increase in petrol prices but when I sat down to calculate I found out that a litre of Coke costs Rs 100, a litre of the Vim liquid Rekha uses to wash the dishes costs Rs 150 and a litre of the Rose water that my girl friend uses to wash her face before she goes to bed costs Rs 1000. So why complain?

Well…I did manage to convince myself that there was nothing to worry.

That`s when my mother called me and said that there was a 5000 square feet of land near our house which was available for Rs 20 lakhs.

“Didn`t father buy the land our house today rests on, for Rs 60,000 only?” I asked.

“Son, that was in 1995. This is 2008.”

As always, my mother was right. I didn`t continue the discussion further…though I wondered why in spite of so many farmers committing suicide and so many of their helpless wives selling lands to feed their children….the land prices were going up.

When I am depressed my only solace is the internet so I logged on to GTalk and waited for a prey to arrive. Ajay Shroff, who stays in Canada and runs a popular website called came online.

“So, do you also use petrol for your car, in Canada?” I asked him on chat.


“Lucky you. So you must be saving a lot of money?”

“Not really.”

“How come?”

“I use diesel. And its price is also related to the price of petrol, if that`s what you wanted to know.”

“Ohh…I didn`t realize. So is the cost of living high in Canada?”

“Of course yes. This is a developed country remember…everything is costly.”

“Lets compare then….how much is a coffee there?” I was keen to prove him that India was a costly place to live in.

“Hmmm…around Rs 70.”

“India wins hands down. We spend Rs 90 a cup of coffee.” I said with an air of triumph.

“Rs 90? Where do you have your coffee?

“At Barista. Or Coffee Day. And I am not even including the car parking charges.”

Ajay Shroff lost the contest…game, set and match. And India won.

Surprise Quiz: Name three products you buy knowing fully well that it is going down the drain?

  • Toilet paper
  • Condoms
  • A diamond ring for the lady in your life

    Other Funny Reads

    On why I hate this 12-month-old girl
    Shopping for my baby daughter
    I have arrived. At the airport
    Cutting costs at home
    Marriage & Olympics…

  • By Jamshed V Rajan

    Jammy, as Jamshed V Rajan is affectionately called, is a wannabe stand up comedian. He has a funny take on most things but documents only some of them. If you are interested in chatting up with him, do drop him an email at or message him at +919650080255.

    22 replies on “The increasing cost of living”

    Abrupt end! Che!

    Can completely relate to Big Funs, Gold Spots etc
    I had managed to get a Sunil Gavaskar flip book from Gold Spot(yes, he was a brand ambassador!!!)

    I remember petrol at Rs 10 a litre and diesel at 2-3!!!
    Man, life has become really expensive!!!
    If there is something like 5 star chocolate that has been at the same price for so many years, that is because they keep reducing the quantity!

    Well I agree with you there..
    Its about money.. and frankly am getting tired of running in the rat race… sometimes I feel like running away to the hills and having a small farm to live off the land and have an industry where I will not depend on the technology.. dreams..

    Its scary how prices are going up for everything..

    I feel if people start leading a simple life, they can some what console themselves from price hikes.

    i lead a very simple life and for that i am being called “Kanjoos”

    AS the salary and perks increases in a company, a person tends to go to five star and seven star hotels but if the same person when he was earning small salary was going in neighbourhood udupi……

    so most of the human culture is getting dragged in the trend of showing off…. of else ppl will comment : see he is head of a leading company but kanjoos is still going in that udupi……..

    so sometimes i feel what bush said was true… indians have becoming a big show off and consumers

    Thanks to Rajan and all for disscussing this topic.

    It’s funny, you ref’ing to Udipi as cheaper alternative. I live in ohio and it’ll cost me about twice the amount as any local 5-star.



    I am quite a regular reader of ur blogs! grt work 🙂
    i jst saw tht u will be goin to Ladakh.. I am plannin to go too…
    can u give some details pls..

    Yeah only yesterday when the autorickshaw I climbed into told me the minimum charge was now 12, I remembered the time when it was 3. It felt like yesterday and I keep forgetting that 10 years ago was a long time ago!

    You should have asked Ajay about more relevant items, like say bread, milk, eggs, rice, and chicken.

    1 loaf of bread = $2.79Cdn or 118Rs

    4 litres of milk (1 gallon)= $7.19Cdn or 304Rs

    12 Eggs = $2.59Cdn or 110Rs

    2kg Basmati Rice = $8.00Cdn or 378Rs

    Chicken is $4.50Cdn a pound or 190Rs/lbs

    As the grocery shopper for our house, I think you’re still doing pretty well in India, cost of living wise. Keep in mind that coffee at a “barista” is quite expensive here too… more like $3.50Cdn or 148Rs for something run of the mill at Starbucks.

    And if you can find a 100% cotton t-shirt here for less than $10.00Cdn (422Rs) then it’s a going out of business sale! 🙂

    Hope you, Rekha and wee one are well.

    I would have laughed at it but it’s a grim economic reality. Inflation is justified sometimes, but fuel costs and it repercussion have resulted in massive job cuts for cost-saving. The airline industry has made headlines recently for that. It’s the same story everywhere. It was sad to see those ‘For Sale’ signs in front of houses at Arlington, Massachusetts the other day. My mom keeps saying how prices have gone up in India and we both gripe how difficult it is to keep going. When my parents started their lives as a young couple- they say they could manage a household with just 500 rupees. I think I will sneeze now and it will be gone.

    But it’s not only about the prices going up- even with the salaries increasing some 1000 times, nothing seems to be enough. I have seen a credit-based society here where people borrow more than they can pay back.It’s probably because they tend to live beyond their means. A car or a HDTV seems like a bare necessity. I am no expert. But something, somewhere is seriously wrong. And someone needs to fix it with better macroeconomic policies or otherwise.

    Hey Jammy,
    I have read this comparison of liquid prices somewhere else too.. are u still riding on someone elses success? 😛

    The other thing that goes down the drain – diapers! I think u had a post on them too. These days diapers alone cost more than what ur mom used to run the household in! I remember at some time KV’s had a tution fees of Rs. 15 for 3 months!! Can u even imagine that?

    Hi The price amout of petrol is more than beer now . If it cont then every one has to buy cycle . . Great post and great blog . . Shall we have link exchange . . Add my blog in ur blogroll . . Add my in ur blog roll and give a comment pls . .

    Arrghh..what a blatant truth!

    And we were not the part of those Gulfs and Afghans and Iraqs. Still, we are at war! Those subprimes and realtys were not started here but we are moving towards 13% inflation rate.

    Jammy, you and I can sip at Barrista or CCD but how will a poor feed his family, man. Bloody prices!


    Gold Spot – that revived a lot of memories, I dont remember the year but yes I did get a Sunil Gavaskar Flip Book and we used to stick those rubber backs from the Gold Spot lids on the book to win even more prizes…

    Gosh that was fun!

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