Sunday, October 22, 2017

Single and Exceptionally Broke: The Struggle Continues

The struggle is real; but not a fraction as real as the rest of the nation

By Taenaz Shakir

Last week I wrote an article; 'Single and exceptionally broke: My chronicles with Rs 130' ( Ten days have passed since notes turned into mere paper, and not much has changed in my miserable state. Still single (No, my knight in shining armour is yet to ride into my life with a brief case of crispy clean 100 rupee notes), and I am still exceptionally broke.

We, the millennials of urban India with our plastic money and mobile wallets, were probably one of the least affected sections hit by this blow. However, even then, I can't begin to explain how difficult day to day life has become. I never imagined that a day would come when I would have to think nine times before deciding whether a can of Bisleri drinking water that I am charged Rs. 90 for, even though the MRP says it costs Rs.70 is a necessity or a luxury.

Considering the kind of go-getter that I am not, I have been very unsuccessful in getting money out of an ATM. The other night my friend and I waited for a cruel amount of time at the ATM only to know around midnight that despite the machine having just been replenished with fresh notes, some system error will not let it function properly. My doubts about machines being able to sense stress has been proven right, yet again. I previously thought that only computers I had used during my college days for AutoCad and Photoshop liked to play these tricks. But no, the curse is real.

Thankfully, my friend was able to lend me some money as the ATM in her office was comparatively less crowded and did not play games with people. I detest being in this state of debt. On top of that, my attempts to collect money from my home branch also was futile-- considering my office timings and bank timings are almost the same, I can't really be blamed.

Anyhow, my daily commute to office which I thought would cost me much lesser since I had decided to take the bus is actually costing me more. I have come to learn that the world works like this - if you don't have change to give the bus conductor, you might as well take a cab than hear a lecture from him and other passengers. It might cost you ten times more, but it is in times like these that take the meaning of the phrase 'every rupee counts' to a whole another level.

Also, neither me nor my flat-mates get the time to go to a supermarket after work to buy house essentials. The nearest super market to our house sells salted pumpkin seeds and tuna in vegetable oil, but neither sells urad dal nor sugar. We don't have physical cash to buy onions from our vegetable vendor but we can afford to buy KFC meal box with our plastic money.

This demonetisation drive which apparently is supposed to bring more equity to the system , is doing the opposite. In a country where the majority of the population does not even have access to internet, taking such drastic steps to push towards a cashless economy seems like a cruel joke. For some reason for the past few days I have been thinking of my maid back home. In a coastal town of Kerala she earns money on a daily basis. She is a single mother. I wonder how her life would have been hit. I am very sure that she is having trouble buying her daily groceries and fish. And she cannot just order food through her mobile and pay using an e-wallet like the ones currently reading this article on their laptop screens or mobile phones. Food and education of their children are two things that no parent can ever compromise on.

I pray she's not as badly hit as the others I read about online, sitting in my revolving chair, in the comforts of my air conditioned office or while waiting for my Uber, staring at my phone's screen, walking past the long rows of people waiting to enter the bank, oblivious to the actual problems of majority of the nation.