The current news is so disturbing. Looks like no continent has been spared from the financial gloom either. Europe continues battling over the EU, exit and bailouts of Greece leading to abysmal numbers for the Euro, the US is all gloomy forecasting another recession due to the expiry of the Bush tax cuts, impending trillion (how many zeros again?) deficit and a not-so-great job growth rate and India battles its own demons everyday. Politics restricts itself to mostly the entertainment section nowadays with Silsilas in the Rajya Sabha, discussion on Rekha’s sarees in regular news and a sad celebration of the government’s reign in power. I remember governments tumbling within months and I continue to ponder how this alliance continues to hold its own. What really saddens me is that this is the best India has to offer currently.
What is worse is the horrific inflation rates. Growing up, dinner table conversations using to lovingly recollect how ‘annas’ were still worth a lot, a rupee could buy you a week’s groceries or more or how a scooter costed 100 bucks and was a reason for envy. That was wonderment in the 1990’s and the early 2000’s where a hundred rupee bill was considered so precious and hidden in the deepest pockets of school bags and a rupee coin was worth half a bus-ticket. With the increase in petrol prices to 80 rupees a litre today, I realized I can no longer gauge how expensive or cheap a commodity is. Something like the weather, I can feel celcius but farenheit still needs some basic math in my head to translate into something I can comprehend. Years ago, when onions costed 55 Rupees a kg temporarily and were paraded around instead of jewellery, people thought the worst had come. Today a trip to the vegetable store burns a sizeable hole in the pocket, not to mention groceries. Amidst all this, the state of the poor is just so saddening. My mol told me about my maid who doesn’t get to eat everyday since the cost of one meal for her family is now Rs.100.You never know where hundreds go, a eight hundred rupee outfit now is considered ‘cheap’, coconuts cost 30 bucks and a murugan idli dinner for three runs into the hundreds. I feel I’ve lost my yardstick to measure cost. I don’t know if a hundred rupees worth something is now normal or still pricy. How much money do you need to carry around to not run out of cash midway? Is a saree that runs into lakhs something only the uber-rich and crazy people buy or is it now a price people have to pay for it being a part of the wedding trousseau?
Lastly, with the rupee falling to a dollar as well (the bad news doesn’t stop, does it?) I calculated that the cost of living is actually lower here. I live on a student budget too. I can estimate the cost of items easier with dollar since conversion to rupees gives scary numbers (and 0’s I cannot keep track of). I think we’ve come to the phase where we can recount our childhood and amaze the next generation with the low numbers. Does that make me old? or the governance bad? I’m inclined to go with the latter.
Rupee – I breakup with you. It’s like I don’t even know you anymore. 😦