Three weeks ago, two city-bred, upper-class aspiring entrepreneurs from Bangalore embarked on a mission: learn more about India, by subsisting for a month on what the average Indian does – just 100 rupees ($2.04) a day. So far, Tushar Vashisht and Mathew Cherian, both 26, have lost nine pounds and four pounds, respectively, and complained of dizziness and depression from a lack of food. Milk is a treat, traveling more than five kilometers (3.1 miles) a day can blow their budget and saving money is incredibly difficult. They say they miss dental floss, deodorant and toilet paper. “This has been a humbling experience,” said Mr. Vashisht, a former investment banker with Deutsche Bank in San Francisco and Singapore, who says his banker lifestyle now seems “unreal.” He said he plans to live on the average Indian’s income one day a week for the rest of his life.
Mr. Vashisht and Mr. Cherian, a computer science graduate from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, have been tracking their “lifestyle experiment” on a Facebook page and a blog that breaks down their spending into pie-charts and graphs, and tracks their grocery shopping and caloric intake. The two met when they were both working at the Unique Identification Authority of India, a government project that aims to assign a number to each Indian citizen, in part to make sure that subsidies reach the poor. Recently, they both quit their jobs there to start a company together, selling education and health care content to India’s more than 600 million mobile phone users. The 100 rupees-a-day project is a way to help them better understand average Indians’ choices, they said.
To arrive at the 100 rupees-a-day figure, they took India’s average per capita income, which works out to 4,500 rupees a month, and subtracted one-third of their budget for rent. Normally, they rent an apartment together in the Bangalore suburb of Bellandur, so they decided to move into a 10- by-6-foot room used by their landlord’s household help, to replicate what they might be able to afford to rent on their combined budget of 3,000 rupees a month. That left them each 3,000 rupees a month, or 100 a day to spend on everything else, from food to Internet use to utilities. From their old lifestyle, they kept the clothes they were wearing, their laptop computers and a badminton set.
Everyone should have to go through this. I had to do it starting in 2008 like scores of other people, juggling personal demands and family illnesses and as much as times were very hard, I have to admit I learned a very important lesson and am a much better person for it! You never feel better than when you pull through bad times on your own and you discover for the first time in life who your REAL friends are. The most important lessons: 1. Don’t judge a book by its cover. 2. Never rely on anyone but yourself. 3. Trust has to be earned through actions over time. Never believe in someone before that. 4. Happiness does NOT come from having money/things. Some of the happiest moments in life are times when you have the very least. 5. Trust your intuition. Your intuition is an inner alarm system that picks up on negative people, energy, situations. Listen to it and let it guide you. Don’t ignore it.
I hope these lessons help! : ) It took me a long enough time to learn them.