Thursday, July 17, 2008

The moving equation

It certainly has been a moving time for everyone in the family.  As I made my way from Boston to Kansas, my brother graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Engineering, and found a job in one of the numerous IT companies in India right now, getting placed in Madras.  Like him, a lot of my friends have their brothers shifting away from their respective homes to wherever the placement calls.  A couple of my cousins too are going out to other destinations to excel in their careers.  So, certainly a moving time for all.

For me, relocation from Boston to Kansas has certainly not been a huge task.  In fact, it has been quite easy, considering the fact that the cost of living in Boston is much much higher than the mid west states in US.  Not that Overland Park is too economical, but at least, compared to Boston, here, it is easy to cut costs on quite a few things.  Just to give you a comparison, a 2 bed room flat in Boston (in the suburbs) costs about 1500$, whereas in Kansas, the same costs about 800$.  That should give an idea of the kind of difference in costs, considering the fact that the standard of living in Kansas is definitely a notch higher than that of the west and the east coast.  Having a lot of friends here makes the task of settling in a new place much easier.  There was never a problem of getting the temporary accommodation, and there was never a feeling of uneasiness to migrate to a different place.  Thankfully, I am settled well here.

I was equating the migration to a different place in India, from within India, and realized how things can be difficult if you don't have any idea about the place.  Even though my parents are comfortable in a place like Madras, and in spite of the fact that they know Tamil (Madras is a place, where not knowing the local tongue can put you in a very disadvantageous position), they really have to put in their best efforts to find a reasonably good place for my brother (he has still not found a good place to live in).  All the talks about being in the Information Technology (IT) sector, and being offered loads of money, pales in comparison, when you consider the fact that you have to stay away from home, and do all the things by yourself.  One might argue that the same thing happens in US as well, but the fact is, at least you have the facilities to make things easy for yourself.  Thankfully, I don't have to wash my clothes by hand!!! Good pay package in India is almost nullified by the monstrous rate of inflation engulfing the country right now.  It is scary to think that the rate of inflation is a double digit number, perched at the top at about 12%, a ridiculously high figure for a country, where most of us are hovering between lower middle class and middle, middle class.  The rent for a 9 by 6 feet room is about five thousand rupees!!! Even if you earn about fifteen thousand rupees after tax, and spend on the bare minimum, you tend to save not more than five thousand per month.  That would have been very good savings, if it was about a decade ago.  But today, with the way the economy is going, it is hardly sufficient.  Considering the fact that today in India, the average cost of building a house is about thirty to forty lakh rupees for a single bedroom apartment in a decent locality, a monthly saving of even five thousand is not much.  The average rate may hold good for a person in IT, but what about a person who has taken up a career in basic sciences.  He must be spending more than the earnings.  The disparity is totally appalling. 

Some of them back in India do not cease to surprise me.  I was talking with one of them, and he told me that he had gone to a restaurant in Bangalore, and was very surprised to realize that he had not spent much for four or five people on dinner.  When I asked him how much it cost, he told me coolly that it was a mere two thousand rupees.  I was shocked!!! When did two thousand rupees for five people become cheap? Are people earning in millions? I still don't know whether I would be able to get past the local darshinis for a decent meal!!! Give me Benne Masala Dosa at CTR; my day is made!!!!

I might have digressed, but the point is, unlike in US, there is no uniform rent structure in our society.  The apartment rent is fixed by high and mighty landlords, who think that anybody in the IT field is destined to make money by hook or crook.  A new city traveler anywhere in India is taken for a ride.  Everybody from auto drivers to the greedy landlords will make him feel as if he is from a different land altogether.

It would be great to see quite a few things set straight back home.  It is fantastic to read reports that the Indian economy is skyrocketing, but on an equal footing, it is distressing to note that the cost of living is going up in unequal steps, and with the current rate of inflation, it is all the more disturbing.


  1. yeah, get what you mean. In bangalore, if you sell prop in basvanagudi u get a crore!! An abt spending two thousand on frs, they do that all the time now, fr bday treats. dunno where the money is going. Nice to hear u have settled down well. All the best wishes!!!

  2. I agree wholeheartedly with you on this, Praveen. No matter what you earn in India, it is not enough to live in a big city...Quality of Life is taking a huge beating there - one cannot afford an independent house anymore, if you can, you will have to live in some godforsaken suburb, and basic amenities are still lacking. When will we catch up?

  3. aaah...i can truly see what you are getting at over here...moving from LA,cali 2 lansing,michigan has been an eye opener..(@least as far as the status of my wallet goes..)

  4. Lakshmi,
    Thanks!! yeah, the equations have changed big time in India!!!!

    I hope India catches up quickly. It is difficult to define a pattern in India, because the population is just so high!!! So, changes for good, will take quite some time.

  5. Abhishek
    Eye opener? In terms of the life style, yeah, I agree :-)