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One of the big realisations was that Parle-G, whose virtues we sang to everyone we met - 27 paise and 25 calories per biscuit - during Rs. 100/day, is not quite the wonderfood given its price. We are better off making rotis or dosas and eating it with condiments or curry for breakfast, as we did that on day three - 3 dosas for Re. 1! MISSED calls are a fundamental form of communication. It involves calling someone on his/her mobile phone from your mobile phone and hanging up after a couple of rings before the other person picks up. It is like a Facebook poke. It isn't very descriptive, yet can mean a lot. "Call me back", or, "Your letter has arrived", or, "Your package is ready to be picked" etc. Why is it done? Because it is free - well almost, if you have lifetime validity on your SIM card.
Why is this relevant? While accounting for all our non-food expenses, we made a key observation. Of course, we are constrained by our upper limit of Rs 25 for our daily budget. This means, after Rs 17 for food, we have 8 rupees for everything else. (Why Rs. 25 instead of Rs. 32? because we cannot expense for education, healthcare, clothing, durables, rent, etc, which make up the difference between 25 and 32. ) Most of our expenses seemed to be in line - cooking on a combo of firewood and gas and using cheap toiletries - with what the Planning Commission has allocated for non-food expenses. But communications stood out at a hefty Rs. 2;and this too when we made no outbound calls and put in the minimum for incoming and SMS plans! In reality, of course, people make outbound calls as well - you can't survive only on missed calls forever. Are we missing something? So we turned to our Tendulkar report expense pie chart to verify and were shocked to see that it doesn't account for communications.
BEING POOR IS HARD WORK
WHEN we started this experiment, we foresaw it as a part-time exercise. We had just left our jobs with the intention of starting up on our own and figured that a month was the perfect duration of time to do some business planning. But 17 days into our 'average living' we have hardly done anything related to our venture. No doubt, we were initially tired and hungry from the nutritional/caloric deficiencies, which prevented us from having the energy to do much. However, even after acclimatising ourselves to the lifestyle, we found that there was simply not enough time left in the day to do any start up related work. The primary reason for this was that we didn't have a 'houseperson' at home.
This is a gender neutral term for someone who stays home and does the various chores (our definition). And, trust us, there is no scarcity of chores - cleaning dishes, sweeping/mopping floors, getting rid of the gunk on the stove and counter-tops, cooking food, washing clothes... We spend an average 3 hours a day on these activities And we didn't include the time and effort spent to go out and buy groceries on a regular basis.
EATING OUT is expensive and this means it is imperative that an average household cooks and consumes food at home. As they have limited or no access to a refrigerator, those making the mean wage have no choice but to make frequent purchases of perishable items. The amount of work that needs to be done is significantly higher for these people as they live in houses that have chores to be done in the yard and have more people in the household (children etc. ).
(Extracts from the blog 'Rs100aday' )
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