Friday, 26 June 2009

Middle Class Maniac - Me!

The characteristics attributed to middle classism are many. But I am dealing with only one right now. That’s regarding money, honey!!

I can recall umpteen incidents right from my school-going age until like day before yesterday when my friends labeled me ‘cheap,’ ‘stingy,’ and what not. All thanks to my nature of being extra cautious with money no matter which stage of life I was in – studying or working.

Take a sneak peak!

*I prefer bus to auto rickshaws. I developed a strong hate feeling for autos at Kottayam where they do not have meters unlike in bigger cities. Which means the driver’s word or price is the law and I cannot accept that. I always need a visible proof to the money that I am spending. Hyderabad autos of course have meters, but not all drivers turn them on. Some quote fancy prices and I walk away without even responding. At some other times, I bargain madly with the drivers to get a price that I think is fair. I might be doing this at the oddest time of the day (err, night) possible when another auto is not in the vicinity. Dangerous enough, huh? And then, there are buses that get you to your destination for 5 INR in the place of 50 INR in auto. So what if you have to walk 100m to get to the bus stop?

#And my friends go “But why? Why would you want to stand squeezed through a grueling experience with your face inside a smelly armpit?”

^But are they capable of comprehending the beauty of bus rides that let you enjoy a city from an elevated view? NO.

*I choose quantity over quality, especially with clothes. If you tell me I have a choice between four bright coloured simple cotton Kurtis from General Bazaar and one ultra elegant Biba Kurta from Hyderabad Central that costs more than all the other four put together, I will definitely go for the former.

#And my friends go “Thank God, everyone in this world is not like you. Otherwise there would not have been something called class.”

^But do they understand that having the variety of four colours and Kurtis is far more exciting than owning one single piece which you will soon be bored of? NO.

*Unless someone else who loves me a lot (read Achan) is booking the ticket, I always travel in sleeper class in Indian Railways. A three tier AC ticket in Sabari Express from Secunderabad to Kottayam costs 960 INR and in sleeper class it costs 400 INR. It is indeed a meager difference if you think about it. But when I think about it, I can save 500 INR and travel in the very same train and reach at the same time as the AC guys would. It’s not as if I live in a centrally air-conditioned home anyway.

#And my friend goes (not many know of this) “You are a freak.”

^But does he know that the view of nature and the feel of breeze compensates more than enough for the sweat particles you accumulate through the journey (as opposed to the sluggishness of oversleep that AC gives you)? NO.

*I hold the view that if friends go for a movie or dining together, everyone should share the expenses. This is even when it is a small group of two or three, even when it is a modest place where food/movie ticket does not cost much. In my roomie Richa’s words, I am a contri person (one who believes in contributing, apparently).

#And my friend goes “Yieeew! How can you be cheap enough to ask your friend for 40 bucks spent on French Fries?”

^But does she know of the glorious feeling that says ‘40 or 4000 does not matter, all my friends are equals.’ NO.

*I love the art of supermarket shopping and am a master at it. The mastery is over FMCG price watching. Let me explain. I take an article that is a potential buy, look at the packaging, check the price and net quantity, compare it with other brands on offer and decide which one is a better option. This also means that if Surf is available in a 450g pack (I hate the ‘non standard weight’ trick that companies have come up with to cheat consumers) and Ariel is available in, let’s say 650g packs, I actually stand there and do the math to find out the 50g price of each one. Sigh. Tedious, I know; but I do it nevertheless.

#Thank God, only I know this. :D

^But I myself know that this can be done only when I am shopping alone. Else, any person who potentially understands the calculations going on inside me could just murder me. YES.

I am sure you got a fair idea about the hard and fast middle class ideologies that I live by. Except one time, no comment from any friend has offended or hurt me (the exception obviously came from a girl friend in the quantity over quality instance). Guess why? I am proud of it, that’s why! I have grown up watching a simple living father and mother who pretty much led the same lifestyle when their salaries were in five digits and when it later turned to six digits. Achan still thinks it is a waste to spend more than a thousand rupees on a shirt. Amma still thinks there is no need to drive alone in a car and go to Kottayam town when she can ‘comfortably’ get into a ‘line’ bus and get back. Now, with such a set of parents, can I be any different?

This is not to say that I don’t have the greed to earn lots of money. My parents have never had that, but I do. I dream about a day when I have enough money to travel the globe and such other things. But when it comes to actually spending it, I think I will remain the middle class girl that I am and choose what is cheap. And you know what? I think I will still enjoy finer things of life. Which definition is not subjective anyway? My life, I define.

PS : The bit about Achan booking the ticket should not be misconstrued. That does not mean him paying for it. He pays anyways whether I book or he books. The point is when he books himself PHYSICALLY and I am not around, he makes sure I have some luxury. 


Poornima said...

Ardra - Dont know why but I really could related to this post of yours :). Well written!

Ardramaanasam said...

Thanks Poornima!

sivadeep said...

What you say is 100 % making sense and I had seen lot of people for the heck of it spend money. I think you got all these things in the genes. Lucky will be the person who is sharing your life as a husband.



Kaber Vasuki said...

I read quite a few articles. Love your blog. Will be back :)

Keep Writing.

Ardramaanasam said...

Thanks a ton Kaber! Do come back.

Unknown said...
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Rajesh G.S. said...

Hi Ardra,

I came to read this today only. Your views sounds good. It seems that now-a-days your busy schedule doesn't allow you to contribute in your blogs. It is good if you continue writing.