It’s a soul-crushing feeling when you see the friends you grew up with travelling around the world, living their dreams and advertising how wonderful their lives are on social media. I know I am not supposed to dwell on these thoughts, but I can’t help it sometimes.
I went to a private English medium school in Delhi, one that my father bent his back trying to put me through. A lot of my friends and classmates came from wealthier backgrounds, which afforded opportunities for them to study abroad and eventually land corporate roles in Western countries like America, UK, or Canada. I attended IIT, a top tier public university for technology in Delhi, but living a life in UK or Canada is a pipe dream for me, given the small savings my father has accumulated, and my savings being virtually non-existent.
Currently, my salary is roughly $1,367 per month (1 Lakh INR). I know this isn’t a bad salary at all in India. It allows me to comfortably pay my rent with my other flatmates and takes care of food, transport, and other miscellaneous expenses.
However, to travel on a regular basis, and live my life the way I want to, this is very difficult to do on this budget. I’m constantly thinking about my future and whether I should be saving a certain amount. Why budget for unnecessary and frivolous travel, when you could be saving for your future? But then, why not splurge on a trip and enjoy peace of mind, and also share those amazing photos on Facebook? This is the dilemma I am always stuck with and it’s a terrible one, not being able to live your life on your own terms because you are cash strapped, or always thinking you are cash strapped.
Other dilemmas include not being able to splurge at expensive restaurants or going out drinking with friends. When my friends invite me to China Club or Wildfire, I usually decline. On the rare occasions that I say yes, I feel like I spent too much money and shouldn’t be doing this so often. What would my father say if I told him I spent my hard-earned rupees on food? My friends like to drink more often, and I only join them once or twice every two months. They think I’m in a relationship. If they knew that I don’t join them because I don’t want to spend money, I fear they will judge me like a penny pincher. Often, I lie to them, saying that I have family obligations, but I’m sure they see through it. I wish I could express how I truly feel without being judged. But more importantly, I hate how I feel like a slave to my modest salary.
I know that if I keep working, in the next 5-10 years I should be at a better place financially, where I can afford some of the luxuries of travelling and holidaying in destinations outside of India. But I would really like to holiday now, in my twenties, feel the adventure that comes with travelling in your youth. Although I love my country, I’ve visited enough Indian travel destinations on a budget and I would like to see more of the world.