It was the winter of 2014 that changed my life, views, and wallet. Mumbai is definitely the City of Dreams; it is also one of the leading contenders in the race of winning the title of ‘The City of Broke Scenes’. It was the 21st of March when I called my father and said, “Papa … I’m broke.”
What ensued was a barrage of tags (like ‘irresponsible’, ‘worthless’) and an unexpected solution. No, Dad wasn’t going to give me his credit card. I was supposed to live like that until the end of March. No amount of emotional blackmail and crocodile tears worked; I was to stay with hundred bucks until the end of the month.
My hostel’s dinner sucked and due to this reason, I was a regular at Theobroma. The first night of my (almost) penniless journey, I dreamt of their chicken rolls and Blueberry cheesecakes. The morning drool was a painful reminder of how my realities were turning into dreams.
We had our prep leave going on; thank god for small mercies. I had to decline several “let’s hang out” offers because those were usually synonymous with expensive lasagnas and desserts. I think it was around this time when I began to realise the value of (money and) real moments.
I didn’t want to step out and waste money anymore. Not like I had an option, but you get my point. Evening jogs beside the sea and playing cricket with my hostel-mates became my new party scenes. My nightlife changed from clubbing to dates with my hostel’s cafeteria. Like I mentioned earlier, I used to hate her, but as I began to know her more and more, I realised that she is quite nice and that I had been wasting my time and money for no reason. I don’t know who I had been trying to impress by living in that state of extravaganza. Life had become simple. It was like starting a new life without unnecessary complications.
Money really is the root cause of problems and debates about “insert fancy name” chicken v/s Bademiya’s chicken rolls. Nothing can beat the latter, both taste and cost! Rum and Whisky gave way to Raju kaka’s cold coffee, cab rides turned to long walks, bike rides converted to refreshingly long walks and my liver was probably thanking me profusely; and I think that’s when I had one of my rare eureka moments. What if we all went broke? We would all have to spend money judiciously and wisely; the act of walking would take over that of hailing a taxi. Just imagine what that would do to the levels of pollution all around us! It would fall down, just like our monetary tensions. Everyone would learn the difference between their needs and wants; relationships would garner more attention rather than some plastic cards shining like they rule the world.
I think a ‘Being Broke’ simulated experience should be made compulsory for everyone, just so that we realise how we’re being bullied by pieces of paper, and yet we worship it like it can grant us the boon of immortality.
Being broke was like breathing in fresh air; my so called “major” issues about stuff like getting an entry into Tryst began to seem pathetic. I couldn’t believe I used to spend 2000 bucks on a shirt just because it was of my crush’s favourite brand. The guilt of wasting my father’s hard-earned money was finally hitting me, and I’m glad it did because it taught me the importance of spending right and keeping some savings too.
The next time someone complains about being broke, smile at him/her, and say, “You’re lucky, because it is a beautiful experience, and it’s going to be a life-changing one.” She/he will probably look at you as if you’re warped, but trust me when I say this, after a few days, they’ll realise why you said it.
Meanwhile, somewhere in 2065, our future-selves are thanking our stars for showing us the right path and life’s real essence through the beauty of being broke.
Photography By: Sahil Verma