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. Ã‰clairs 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 http://reelninja.com/ 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?”
“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.