In an earlier post I had spoken about 3 people’s attitude about money. Today it is another set of people.
I met a 82 year old lady – very active, agile, smart and with a fantastic memory. She had taken up a job when she was 18 years old for a princely salary of Rs. 90! She came from a big family – ‘n’ number of children. Her father did not have a great salary, and everything was at a shortage. Today’s kids cannot even imagine shortage of food! However as the eldest female in the house – on many days she slept with just a glass of water for dinner, shortage of clothes (one new dress a year), shortage of water throughout the year, shortage of hot water in winter (she was from Central India where winters were more severe than in some other parts of India), shortage of privacy (privacy, u got to be joking she says!). When she got her first salary her mother cried. She told the world “How shameful, I cannot get my daughter married and I am buying rice with my daughter’s money!
She got married. Things looked better. She moved to Chennai. The house had no electricity. However her husband had a government job with a decent salary. However they were supporting a younger brother, younger sister, and her aged in laws. Things improved. At her age of 45 they had a house, fridge, and a scooter. Not bad. A big move for a girl who salivated seeing somebody riding an ‘own’ cycle!
Now things had changed. About 3 years back her son took her on a tour to the Far East. Her son had already taken her around India – and by plane. (she was told all this was from the miles accumulated to reduce her guilt, but I know her son bought first class tickets to ensure that she got pampered). He even took her to Europe first class – and made her stay in a 7 star equivalent when he was attending a conference!
Now her grandson announces to her “I bought a shoe for Rs. 7800”. He says “Paati it is a running shoe”. Her son earns a salary of Rs. 75 lakhs. She has a surplus to help some not so well off nephews and neices. I still doubt if she will understand why a shoe should cost Rs. 7800. Running or otherwise. She was 21 when she got her first footwear.
As a person exactly between the 2 ages I can appreciate both grandson and grandmother’s attitude towards money. Son has stood in a milk queue, a ration queue and has spent money sparingly. Grandson has seen the word shortage only in books. For him money spells ATM, POP or MOM. If there is something missing at home, it is because it was forgotten, finished or broken – all you need to do is to buy. Money is power to buy what you want. Not that the grandson is a spendthrift (by his standards of course). The son can sometimes be caught between the mothers early day poverty and son’s quest for ‘hi’ cost indulgences.
Asking the grandson to save is like saying “Go to the balcony and feel the sun, one day it may be over” – he looks at me as quizzically as you would have if i had told you this statement!
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