I think I should do a recap of how my life has turned out. It has been six years, and I will concede that six isn't that great a number. Not as good as five anyway.
But then I just think I have to. It's time.
By 2012 numbers, I am now in the top 1% Indians by affluence.(An annual income of 12.5 lakh and above [link]). Don't fret, it is not the point and the last thing I would want to brag about, is money. (Though I suppose it is harder to convince you of that now, and yes, I have been there for quite a while now :) .)
The weirdest thing is that no colleague of mine who makes just as much or more, is ready to believe this. They happen to know how much a Mainframe professional in Qatar makes, but not this. But more on that later.
A little over six years back, I was earning exactly zero. The ceiling for my inter city travel was reserved sleeper coaches in Indian Railways and the ceiling for intra city travel was shared auto rickshaws. My average meal budget was around twenty-five bucks and my average movie budget was twenty bucks going up to forty for the odd movie at Nandan. And the icing on the cake is that all three day vacations from college had a budget of five hundred bucks!
Today, five hundred is regularly not enough for a single meal. I have to decide every morning whether I want to take the car or the bike to office. All my travels are air-conditioned in some way or the other. And let us not even get into how much my last vacation cost.
The trouble is, most of this also applies to most of you. And if my guesswork is just as perfect as I think it is, none of you think you are rich.
Well the fact is this. You are filthy stinking rich (You might want to say that to yourself in your head once. And no, it does not help). Whether you like it or not. I do not like it at all. But this does not happen to be an argument; it is just a cold hard fact.
The first time I realized this, I also realized that I did not want any more money. I do not think I have the guts to refuse it, but I do not think it can be the driving factor in my life any more. Being in the top one percent will do just fine for now, thank you very much.
Because the surge in income has not come with a surge in happiness. I am just as happy as I was six years ago. Perhaps slightly less? I am not sure.
Everyone I know agrees when I say that money does not make you happy. All of them then say that they need to be making more money. "To be happy?", I quickly ask. "Nah, just need to", they say.
But what I have learnt from the past six years is that more money will not make me more happy. My happiness graph has just stayed constant. On the contrary, I have less time to do the things I really want to do.
Do I think I have all the money I need? No, I do not.
But what I have begun to realize is that I will probably never ever have all the money I need. Some billionaires do not. I am just a top 1 percent affluent Indian.
I do not think it is a chase that I can win. Why chase the carrot at the end of the stick?
As a footnote, I would like to leave you with an article I just happened to read [link]. Calling my problems as problems seems a little vulgar in comparison. Yup, that is India too.