Monday, November 15, 2010

The Economics of the Generation Next and the idea of balancing the two worlds.

This Sunday a curious incident happened. It was a fine morning, just a little lonely, so I decided to pay a visit to my cousin bhaiya-bhabhi. They stay in Malad(Mumbai) and are proud parents of two wonderful boys - I love spending my time with them!

That morning when I entered their flat, looking forward to ganging up with the boys... I saw an unfamiliar face sitting in the drawing room with great familiarity. I was introduced to him, in the way I am always introduced to everyone, generally sounding something (detestful to my ears) like this- 'Yeh Film line mei kaam karta hai..'
Not that I blame my bhabhi-ji for those words. But I don't know, just the sound of it - 'film line'... almost makes me feel as if I do some illegal-gambling-sort of activity by the side of railway line.

Well, that's not the point, the blog is about that unfamiliar-someone sitting there. I was told that the gentleman had just moved in next doors, infact today itself, and had come to give a casual-introductory visit to his neighbours (i.e my bhaiya-bhabhi).

So as the conversation went by I came to know that he was what you call a specimen of the most refined breed of Generation Next! An Engineer from an IIT and a management graduate from an IIM. Wow! I can already see the fathers of eligible daughters going ga-ga over him and asking his hand for their beautiful 'fair and lovely' daughters. Now what term do you exactly give to such lethal combinations: IIT + IIM? Its like NSD + FTII = Iske baad filmon mei kaam nahi kiya toh kya jhak maaraa!!

Let me clarify this on the outset, I really don't have any personal grudges against people who have got the best of the worlds. I have known people who have worked much harder than many to be there. Sacrificed much more than many. SO they've worked their sweat/heart to it, and deserve this best of the worlds they aspired for. Its just that Harvard jaaoge ya Princeton jaaoge toh scientist ya millionaire toh banoge hee na. Isme kya badi baat hai?

But well, what provokes me is that extra-sweet smile on that unfamiliar-kind-of-faces - that bloody Chetan Bhagat kind of a wise-man, rimless spectacled look: 'we know everything, we drive the world, we are the ones who have sold our Ferraris. Remember Subodh in Dil Chahta Hai.

So as the morning cup of tea was passed to us, I casually asked about the deposit that he payed to the owner of the flat.
He said: '1.5 lacs'
I looked up from my tea cup.

My bhabhi-ji matter-of-factly said: 'Well, its everywhere nowadays. All of them ask above 1 lac!'
(For people who live outside Bombay, here's a fact: you pay a vulgar amount to the flat owner for an 11-month period, so that he can reap the benefits of good interest rates laid by Shri Chidambaram-ji in banks or wherever.)

Then came my next question to the IIT+IIM gentlemen: So, what about the rent for your 1BHK (one bedroom-hall-kitchen) and let me remind you this is Malad West, we are talking about. With the help of his finger he pushed his spectacles from the bridge of his nose to their exact place and replied: 21, 000/-
I almost spat the tea on his shirt! whaat!!

A moment of silence.

Soon I regained my consciousness and asked him: 'But you get 1BHK flats here for 15K to 16K, why so costly?

Now of course he works in a multinational with all the 'packages' that they promise: So taking the support on the 'package' shoulder, he fired:
'But all those flats were very dirty - those in the range of 15K to 16K. This one was very good. It had a wooden door and some wood work, so I thought this should be it for us!'
Well, I asked my Bhaiya a little while later, how the hell did you manage to buy a flat in Malad West?
He made me understand the process he went through. The estate prices then and some old family land they had owned etc. Infact he even recalled how his childhood was spent in Mumbai during the late 70s. When he used to get a rupee from his grandfather for the bus ticket to return from his school in evenings. And he would instead use that rupee to have pani-puri at the nearby stall and then to match the bus timings, he would run down to home. Of course the SV Road then wasn't as packed as now. Then he lived in Santacruz, now he has to shift further down to Malad.

Soon, our Lethal Weapon guy was back to his-business- he enquired about the availability of domestic help-the maid and what all work she does like washing the utensils, clothes, cleaning etc. My bhabhi-ji now plunged with all the information she must have collected over the several years of living in Malad. She started explaining: Right from where have the maids actually migrated from to what all kinds of holidays they ask for? While she was explaining him this 'Maid Mafia', she was constantly, repeatedly urging him to not pay more than 500/- bucks for any given work. i.e If she only washes utensils for the month - then 500/- and if she does cleaning and mopping in addition to washing utensils: then 1000/- I didn't pay much attention to that discussion and went back to the Sunday Times time-pass. But every time she would tell him something, then she would again add her punchline in the end: 'So...don't pay more than this, 500/- per work, because that is the price in every flat in every apartment block'

I was amused at this repetitive chanting from Bhabhi-ji and that Chetan Bhagat like smile, kept nodding. After, he left, I told her: 'Do you think he would care for a couple of hundred bucks, if he pays almost 5,000/- rupees extra per month for a flat?'
To which my Bhabhi-ji replied and I was taken aback, why didn't I think like this?
She said with an emphatic worry ringing inher voice: 'The problem is not him paying a couple of hundred extra to the maids, the problem is that when the same maids will come to our home and expect the same amount from us too, which we neither budget it nor we can afford, its then that him paying more will become a nuisance to us'

It struck me like lightening that how we, the Generation Next with our sudden economic freedom, yuppie lifestyles and boastful salary figures have almost sidelined some people who probably are as good as us in everything, but their only crime is that they are just a generation behind us. We unconsciously spend obnoxious amount of money for the very trivial things.
The idea of spending money with a conscience - does it exist?

The generation before us wasn't as privileged, they have struggled their way to reach to a particular level and now they find themselves still not 'upto the mark'. They enter a mall expecting that Nike shoes must be costing worth some: 1200/- bucks, but since their son really wants it, they would buy it for him. And to their surprise they will see the starting range from: 2100/- only! If they dare to mention that, the fact that these shoes are costly, the sales boy will behave as if they are asking for it for free,and instead he will attend to the guy sitting on the next chair with a Manchester United T-shirt.

Imagine this and I have seen it happening umpteen times: an old man after a day-long work is getting ready to jump inside an incoming local train and a couple of youngsters get in before him with ease and take his favourite window seat before he can get in. The window seat that he must be enjoying it since last so many years. Of course, I do not have any solutions to these incidents. There can't be any solutions, in a way, except that our generation might show a little more care and concern that could make the generation before feel better. As a writer, all I can do is think, feel bad, maybe blog and then again get back to earning my share of money.

But if anyone in my generation is reading this and feeling as guilty as I was on that Sunday morning: Whatever f**king figure salary you earn, don't indulge in the vulgar display of money. I know the IIT+IIM guy didn't mean to hurt anyone, but its just a subtle unconscious change in the society that the Generation Next is bringing about and more so in a city like Bombay that has several centuries and generations existing together.
Guess what? The IITs and IIMs might not teach you this gesture. Life will.

The idea of spending money with a conscience. And take that from someone who sees money being spent lavishly on bollywood sets with absolute zero idea of productivity.

© Copyrights 2009 All Rights Reserved. Hardik Mehta


Vish2bnice said...

That kind of Generation Next will spend that way till they're single. These days B schools have increased the fees so much that even people coming out of A Class B schools have to plan their daily expenses like everybody else. I've seen guys spending 5 to 10 Lac fees for the MBA and getting posted in a metro city, where 7-8 lac per annum salary doesn't help much. Calculate edu loan, home rent/ home loan (for his kind of home), car loan and one kid; the only difference that guy "can" make in his life is the job profile!

prakash gowda said...

The IITs and IIMs might not teach you this gesture. Life will - this is a gem from your artice. Keep up the good work. I completely agree with you when you say that one should spend with a conscience, which is not happening anywhere around us. We kept ruing about recession since 2008, but did u notice that people never stopped indulging in the sunday brunches and buffet dinners, weekend movie at multiplex followed by tub popcorn costin 125 bucks, and cold coffees at barista, alooo tikkis at mcdonalds even when one wasn't actually hungry - and the same people crib about 1 rupee hike in the petrol price! They line up at the petrol pumps at 12:00 midnight to save those 20-30 bucks they'd be spending extra the next day after petrol hike. Ditto for the sabzis, grocery and milk. cry cry itna cry karte hai kaayko? Anyways, this was really an eye-opener, especially the old man wishing for a window seat. Keep writing.

Prakash Gowda

hardik mehta said...

VC - u are spot on with ur calculations of how these new breed of MBAs are living their lives....

@prakash - the window seat thing is really an eye opener for ppl who travel in local trains. thanks a lot for appreciating the write-up

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