It has been too long since I blogged about Incredible India. I have been overly involved with my work but today I decided to get back on this wheel which I immensely enjoy. I apologize to my dedicated readers who I see have been checking in to see whether I have a new article. The below article is for you 🙂
I have often been at odds with some dear friends of mine from India regarding some of the pieces I have written about their home. There are others who have been glad with what I have said and have been fascinated by my refreshing account of their homeland. As a writer I think it has been important for me to share information with those who have never been to India as well as tell my own truth. Trust me, my experiences as a black girl from Kenya will definitely not be the same as that of a white girl from say the USA or France. And why would it be? We are both socialized differently and because of where we come from, while in India we are perceived differently. When Indian women tell me they love my hair, they mean they love it on ME, they would not want it on THEM. On the other hand, when the same women tell a white lady they love her skin, they definitely want to be fairer. I am not going back to the issues of skin tone and racism , I think those are topical issues that will be given by any traveler to India. Today, I begin a series on reasons why I love India.
COST OF LIVING
I will begin with a truth about myself- I am frugal, nay thrifty to a fault. I find this a strength but sometimes a weakness (I know my hubby is reading and nodding). In India, am in heaven because thanks to a capitalist and socialist system, things are much cheaper than at home in Kenya. And I mean everything-from cost of transport, to food, to house rent and even entertainment. I have a train ticket I keep in my wallet to show my Kenyan friends who doubt when I tell them that for the transport cost of everyday 16KM travel by local train , I pay about Ksh 350 (about 4 USD) for 3 months. YES, I said I pay 4 USD for 3 MONTHS .In Kenya, that amount can last you roughly 2 days MAX.
If that is the transport cost, you can imagine frugal me in an Indian market- I shoooppp! I also dine out a lot and go for to the movies more- in India a ticket to the 3D IMAX theater is about 3 USD, in Kenya, the same 3D IMAX theater charges 10 USD. It’s a bit unbelievable.
India also has a welfare system that guarantees food supply at subsidized cost to all of its citizens called a ration card under the P.D.S -Public Distribution System. The ration card is produced at government stores and you can then buy a kilo of rice for about Ksh 40 (a little less than 0.5 USD) as well as flour, sugar and other foods that constitute the staple food of India, not forgetting cost of fuel (kerosene) for stoves at similarly low prices . This enables low income earners to feast like the high income earners .
And of course medical treatment is more affordable in India and hence the huge boom in medical tourism.In Kenya, with government doctors and nurses downing their tools as often as they do and the high cost of treatment at private hospitals/ clinics, India becomes a natural alternative choice for patients to travel to for specilaised medical treatment.
Am sure an economist would mention to me that the low costs are to do with economies of scale, that I cannot compare a country with over 1.2 Billion people with that which has a little over 40 Million. Some would tell me India is much older democracy, has had more time to self rule, to regulate markets, to ensure food security , has the largest IT and Technology personnel and resources; And that is all fine and true. What I love the most is that even though I read statistics that show that India has some of the largest disparities between the rich and poor, that slums are much bigger than what I have seen with my own eyes, what I see when I look around are Auto manufacturing industries, Tech campuses, roads build by locals, pride in local brands, a huge population that meets the job market demand and affordable living…. It’s obvious am awed by India.