Our Union Budget was announced a couple of days back. And according to our finance minister (in his own words), “There is an affluent class in India that consumes imported luxury goods such as high-end motor vehicles, motorcycles, yatches and similar vessels. I am sure they do not mind paying a little more. Hence, I propose to increase the duty..”
So, everything ranging from cellphones, to luxury cars, motorbikes to apartments, set-top boxes, parking fees, AC restaurants to “cigarettes, cigars, cigarillos and cheroots” are getting more expensive. Perhaps the finance minister has a point here, we can do without them? Though some of the articles in the list are a must have, lets see about the rest (as students).
We decided to see for ourselves how far can we not be affected by the new Budget while spending a day outdoors in Calcutta. As everything is set to get even more expensive, a friend and I decided to spend our Saturday with the minimum expenditure doing stuff that didn’t cost a bomb on our student budget. So here was our little experiment and we successfully spent the day enjoying while spending only Rs 400 (<$8) in all or less than $4 per head. And believe me, we had a great time.
1) Travel: Having decided to meet at the University Campus, my friend from the Genetics Department and I walked to the nearest metro station. In a city like Calcutta, where the transport system is well developed and connectivity is good, we decided to stick to the government buses and the subway and the entire expenditure in the process was less than Rs 30 (which is an hour’s parking fee at some places).
2) Hangout: One of the most favourite places for hangout for young people are the parks in the city; the Elliot Park, Maidan (just wide open green expanse in the heart of the city) and the Victoria Memorial grounds, to name a few. Not only are these places accessible and inexpensive, they are properly maintained by the state and are a very popular destination for couples out on a date as well. One can easily spend hours sitting in the parks under the big, old trees and be absorbed in the monumental serenity of the surroundings.
The entry fee is more or less non-existent. (You can read “Valuation of Assets and The Travel Cost Method” for more on this.) In fact, walking around the streets near the Maidan and the Elliot park can offer you a sight of several other interesting places and the best part, there is a very little vehicular congestion. Like wise, the number of people around is also a fraction of that of the busy commercial areas of the city. That can really help you relax if you live in a city like Calcutta with it’s teeming millions of mostly immigrant population.
3)Food: We decided to take a bus to Park Street, another preferred place for hangout and the bus ride just lasted over a couple of minutes. The thing about Calcutta, in spite of being a metropolis, is that any body can survive well due to the affordability factor. It’s street-side hawker population generated a business worth of a few billion dollars in 2005 alone.
Being in the tropics and due to the approaching summer, we made a slight change in plan and decided to go to MacDonald’s rather than have the street food Park Street is famous for. We are creatures of necessity and we had to sit and cool ourselves down and in the process pay 13.5% VAT (Value Added Tax) and hence, paid over Rs 41 for a bill for Rs 300.
As a conclusion, on a bright winter day, we might have been able to spend a great day outdoors by spending a little over $2, half of what we spent on a summer day. And, yes, we did not let the Union Budget spoil our day and as it turns out, you don’t have to spend money to have a great time.
Enjoy your week ahead!
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©The Idea Bucket, 2013