Jesse’s Blog

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Shanghai has “Mo fo da money!” – but what’s wrong with India?

Hotel Near Shanghai OfficeSo… I didn’t leave. We had a bit of a network disaster on Friday and I didn’t get enough time to finish everything so I extended my stay through the weekend. I moved to a cheap hotel right across from the office which is only $23 per night instead of $145. It’s convenient, clean, and nice with free internet and breakfast. Takes two minutes to walk from the lobby to our office, and one more minute to get to the cafe in our software park. I will go so far as to say it’s badass. (I really need to learn how to say that in Chinese.)

Shanghai-153 The down side is that I’m working most of the weekend, but we’re still managing to squeeze in some good stuff! Tonight we went to Japanese and got an amazing deal: all you can eat of anything on the menu (sushi, nigiri, sashimi, tempura, soup, beef, cooked fish, chicken, noodles, rice) and all you can drink including beer and sake. Each of us for the same price as a single plate of sashimi in Delhi (about $22). Which brings me to my main point today:

What the heck is wrong with India??

Lately I have been noticing that living a cosmopolitan lifestyle in India’s capital city is increasingly ridiculously expensive. Drinks at clubs are pricier than they are in New York City. Memberships to gyms cost three times as much as gyms in the U.S. that are three times as nice. Eating out regularly sets me back more than it ever did in the States.

It doesn’t end with daily cost-of-living, either. Our office space in Noida is as much as our office space in San Diego. My taxes in India are higher than my taxes in the U.S. My apartment is 1/2 the price of my Westwood apartment in Los Angeles and 1/3 the price of my beach-front apartment in San Diego. In fact, if I had to pay for my own rent, utilities and vehicle, I’d be living paycheck-to-paycheck right now. The kicker? My salary is the same as it was when I first moved to Los Angeles.

My question above was rhetorical. I know what’s wrong with Delhi, and what’s wrong with India. It’s fucked up. The rich are exclusive, and they want to stay that way. They got rich by exploiting their own countrymen, and they’ll stay rich by fighting to keep them down. Here’s an IM convo I just had with my friend:

(12:50:46 AM) Jesse: something is wrong with India
(12:51:42 AM) Laura: there is alot wrong with india!
(12:52:56 AM) Laura: what exactly are you talking about?
(12:53:39 AM) Jesse: cost of living
(12:53:53 AM) Jesse: general social welfare
(12:54:29 AM) Jesse: classism and racism making things generally shitty.
(12:56:12 AM) Jesse: for the majority, while keeping the rich and the luxurious lifestyle (I’m sorry middle class lifestyle anywhere else in the world) out of reach of the common man in India.
(12:56:47 AM) Jesse: I just realized that if I had to pay for my own rent, utilities and vehicle, I’d be broke or living paycheck to paycheck at best
(12:57:57 AM) Laura: yeah i know but china is far more advanced than india…india is developing at a far slower pace…in a few decades though india could be more like china..
(12:58:15 AM) Jesse: china is one thing but I’m comparing directly to the U.S.
(12:58:45 AM) Jesse: My salary right now is about what I was making when I first moved to San Diego.
(1:02:20 AM) Laura: you are right but it is only the rich people in india that can afford eating out and drinking….if you look at the places we eat and drink in in india …they are all in 5 stars hotels…no bar I go to in ireland is equivalent… they only cater for the super rich …so charge super high prices
(1:02:44 AM) Jesse: yep, supply and demand I guess…
(1:04:08 AM) Laura: exactly..there is such a small portion of india that can afford alcohal…they have to charge those prices…if you look at the price of everyday stuff like fruit and veg , water etc. it’s far cheaper than home
(1:04:29 AM) Jesse: they don’t have to charge those prices though
(1:04:34 AM) Jesse: In fact
(1:04:42 AM) Jesse: did you know that 5 stars get alcohol tax-free
(1:04:50 AM) Jesse: it is CHEAPER for them to buy alcohol
(1:04:56 AM) Jesse: than the average establishment in India
(1:05:12 AM) Jesse: they are taking advantage of the few people who are really rich and charging ridiculous prices.
(1:05:43 AM) Laura: I know they don’t but they can so will….it makes it more exclusive …
(1:06:07 AM) Laura: the rich can well afford it and prob makes them feel wealthier
(1:06:19 AM) Jesse: which is fucked up.
(1:06:35 AM) Jesse: Do you know I saw a Lamborghini Murcielago outside of The Park hotel the other night?
(1:06:39 AM) Jesse: FUCKING. RIDICULOUS.
(1:07:07 AM) Jesse: all the problems that country has, and people are wasting money paying 3 times the normal cost for a 1/4 million dollar car.
(1:08:30 AM) Laura: I know…but it’s like a status symbol to them…do you ever see the cars that pull up outside agni ..they are all mercs and bmw’s …hanging out there and buying drinks is like telling everyone hey look at me i’m rich and if you manage to be rich in india …it’s a big thing …if it was ireland or Us it wouldn’t be as big a deal
(1:08:49 AM) Jesse: yeah but look how they got rich
(1:08:57 AM) Jesse: exploiting their own people
(1:09:03 AM) Jesse: It’s borderline slavery
(1:09:14 AM) Jesse: Mumbai is the largest slum in Asia
(1:09:16 AM) Jesse: ASIA
(1:09:22 AM) Jesse: not India
(1:10:24 AM) Laura: I know…I am not justifying it…in fact I can’t stand it…I dated a mega wealthy indian guy for like 2 weeks and couldn’t deal with all the cars, servants, expensive dinners etc……
(1:11:30 AM) Laura: I think I am the only person to dump a guy because he is too rich…and has an attitude
(1:12:05 AM) Jesse: lol
(1:13:52 AM) Jesse: Lately I am just really grumpy about India, and I’m getting really antsy about being there and I think this is why. Everything is so pompous and superficial, and nobody with money seems to care about making anything better.
(1:14:12 AM) Laura: i’d hate to grow up in india…if you are poor…you are screwed and if you are rich you have such a screwed up image of reality …you should hear their opinions….they are obssessed with money and image
(1:15:32 AM) Jesse: God forbid there are more of *them* running around. More people with money. That would be the worst thing for the rich peeps. They wouldn’t be exclusive any more! Keep the peasants from rising up from the slums to a better existence. Where is India’s Robin Hood when you need him!
(1:16:45 AM) Laura: Give me time! It’s funny you should mention robin hood! I just got accepted into nottingham uni…I am doing my masters in human rights law there in september
(1:17:58 AM) Jesse: I’d like to take that guy’s Lamborghini and use it to buy houses, livestock, extra farmland, and a few dowries for a couple villages.
(1:18:49 AM) Jesse: Badass, you can move back to India and steal from the rich and give to the poor – and defend yourself in court!
(1:20:28 AM) Laura: I know…I remember one morning I went for break fast in the taj with this guy and it cost ridiculous money for pancakes..then an hour later i was teaching my class in the slums and just felt so guilty ..they could have so much stuff for that…
(1:20:05 AM) Jesse: Do you mind if I just copy paste this convo into my blog – I don’t feel like formatting my thoughts into something more readable. It’s late. :)
(1:21:03 AM) Laura: no i don’t mind at all…as long as i get some royalties if it’s ever published!
(1:21:08 AM) Jesse: hahah
(1:21:09 AM) Jesse: deal
(1:21:24 AM) Jesse: I’ll paste this part too, so it’s published on record. ;)

Perhaps I’m just a bit biased and bitter. After all, I have been a victim of racism and discrimination by the upper class during my time in India… So what do you think?

posted by Jesse at 11:36 pm  

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