I always knew that transitioning back to India would have its challenges. Anytime you have to get used to a “new” place after staying elsewhere for a while, there’s going to be a tough adjustment period. So I was prepared for the traffic, the crowds, the state of the roads and whatnot. After all, haven’t I lived here for 25 years? I was pretty confident about adjusting after a week. All in all my predictions were right. I’m settling back in nicely. But nothing…nothing prepared me for the price rises!
To be fair, I knew that costs had skyrocketed. I closely followed the news on inflation last year and was prepared for having to shell out a hell of a lot more than what I was used to. But it wasn’t enough. I know I sound like a rustic inexperienced lad coming to the big city from the village and being shocked at how expensive things are. But what can I say? I am!
I bought an extension cord for Rs. 480 the other day. We paid Rs. 200 for breakfast at a “cheap” place we used to frequent years ago. I was worried…horrified. It seems my savings and earnings simply haven’t kept up with the rising rates of living. I am essentially poorer than when I left. I remember my parents talking about how they used to rarely eat out. Those days it seems are back again!
I guess I’m just going to have to try and ramp up my earnings. But I was thinking of those who are much worse off than myself. How in the world are poorer people paying the exorbitant amounts I’m seeing in shops? It’s not just food, but all commodities have suffered. To an extent I’m protected because my earnings are linked to the dollar which has appreciated considerably, though not to the same extent as price rises, but what of those whose wages haven’t changed? I shudder to think of the hardships they’re facing.
I don’t know what the main cause is, but it’s pretty obvious that something has been grossly mismanaged somewhere or the other. I’ve heard that rural incomes have risen and that’s the reason for the price rises. If so, those risen incomes are nullified by the inflation making the situation worse for all of us. Something known in economics as the Price-Wage spiral. Whatever the reason, we can only blame the present government. Maybe everyone else has gotten used to it because it happened relatively slowly and I’m only complaining because I’m returning after three years. But I fail to see what good has come of it. Perhaps I’m just out of touch and can’t see the benefits. If so, I’ll be grateful if someone explained them to me :)
For now I’m just going to have to deal with being more frugal and working to increase my earnings. But there’s a sense of futility behind it. What’s the point of working harder when your extra earnings are just going to be eaten up by inflation?