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Surviving on Rs 28

As India’s poverty line gets reduced to Rs 28 a day, a DCAC student tries to get through a day using the same amount

education Updated: Apr 03, 2012 13:54 IST
Craig Dominic Pinto

It was March 24, a hot Saturday, but a windy one, for a brave soul, who was determined to survive on Rs 28 – for the entire day.

I stepped outside my abode wearing a bright white tee, a pair of light blue shorts jingling with 28 Rs 1 coins, a Red Bull cap, army camp slippers and a big bright smile on my face.

It was 7.30am, and I began walking towards the rising sun. I cherished every refreshing blow of wind like it was my last. Alas, the hunger kicked in at around 12.00pm.

Fortunately, I had spent my time judiciously asking every fruit seller I passed the price of his products, and eventually I learned the local mandi (bazaar) would give me the lowest price.

At the mandi I spent my first Rs 10 on six bananas. With fewer coins in my pocket, and the weight of my first meal in my right hand, I began looking for a quiet shaded location for me to relax and to fill my stomach.

I chose a nearby park to rest, sat on the cool damp grass, and began eating my first banana. I looked around and saw many similar people, smoking bidis, playing cards and sleeping. I could not afford to indulge in any of the activities they were pursuing

It was 1pm when I was done eating my fourth banana, and I felt the nourishment ease my stomach and my mind. However, it was around this very time when I felt the acute dryness in my mouth from all the bananas and the summer’s sun.

It was time I drank some water. After searching through many shops I found one which was selling me a litre of bottled water for Rs 14. So, I settled for a water-vendor, spending Rs 2 on four glasses of water.

Thirst-quenched and pumped after saving Rs 12, I decided to take it easy. It was 4pm and I realised I had spent a major part of my day in leisure. I spent another two hours, just sitting, resting my head agaist a tree, finishing my last two bananas, staring at the scattered clouds in the sky and listening to the playful cries of the kids in the park.

At around 6pm I woke up suddenly, realising my feet had been royally feasted apon by mosquitoes, and finding a a dog nestled near me. Excusing myself from their prescence, I began a long walk back home - a distance of nearly 4 km. Around 7pm I decided to treat myself to a glass of chilled shikanji (lemonade) for Rs 10, only realising later on that I was left with only Rs 6. It was around this time that I realised that I hadn’t really survived on Rs 28. It was merely a challege for me, an experiment, and even if it had gone wrong, I could have retreated back home to a hearty meal and an AC room. I didn’t have the courage to sleep under a starless Delhi sky, for fear of muggers, and so I humbly pulled out the last Rs 6 I had in my pocket, and gave it to a presswali (a woman ironing clothes) I passed by on my way home.

She resisted my act of charity, but determined as I was, I lied to her that I owed her money.

I began thinking, it was she who should have been writing this article about surviving on the bare minimum, and not a college student who randomly decided to put himself in the slippers of someone who genuinely spends his or her day on Rs 28. I walked through my gate at around 8pm, where the guard greeted me. I couldn’t help but think how wrong it was to even think that I could survive on only Rs 28. I had just spent a Rs 28 day, I did not survive it.

My friends call me Craig, and I’m a 20 year-old workaholic. I’m in my 3rd year of college, pursuing a BA(hons) English degree from DCAC. I believe I was ‘created for creation’ and it’s this tagline that keeps me focussed

I couldn’t help but think how wrong it was to even think that I could survive on only Rs 28. I had just spent a Rs 28 day, I had not survived it, Craig Dominic Pinto, III year, BA (hons) English, Delhi College of Arts and Commerce