Tushar: Its the end of day two for me and as I eagerly wait for Matt to join me on Thursday morning, here is a summary of things changed and new things learnt till now along with a video interview of a representative average income lady ( a local vegetable seller)
1. Offloading the excess:
We had to say goodbye to:
a. Convenience: Car, Maid, Air conditioning, washing machines, Refrigerator (for the most – we can only use sparingly), gym, electric shavers/trimmers.
b. Food/drinks: Meat, milk or milk based products except chai, desserts, most packaged products, non Indian spices/food, all soft and hard drinks.
c. Toiletries: Floss, conditioner, deodorant (sorry ladies!), toilet paper, liquid soaps, facewash, gel.
2. Healthy calories are expensive! Can we stay healthy and eat full?
Its becoming clear that healthy calories cost more than unhealthy calories. I am observing that protein calories (dal, egg, soybean, milk) are more expensive than carbs (rice/wheat) and within carbs, more processed and refined calories (white rice/bread etc) cost less than lesser refined/processed varieties (brown rice/bread etc). Even though vegetables are cheap, potatoes (starch) seems to be the most cost effective amongst them. This perhaps explains why the staple diet of the average Indian is carbs rich and often displays protein-carbs substitution, however remains a little counter-intuitive to us from a processing cost perspective. Anyway, the paradox I am dealing with is that if we want to eat a healthy balance of protein, fat and carbs, then we will have to eat lesser than our required calories. Else we have to substitute in greater amounts of carbs.
More analysis on the nutritional aspects of our diets to follow in our blog.
3. Forget milk, say hello to Soybean and Veggies
I am missing milk and milk-based products (butter, ice cream, yogurt, paneer, cheese…sigh!!), but unfortunately, at 27 Rs/litre, milk is luxury and can be only used sparingly. On the other hand, soybean chunks is becoming the staple wonder-food, giving relatively higher amounts of protein at relatively cheaper prices. Seasonal vegetables are extremely cheap and while they bring in little calories, are a great source of vitamins and minerals.
4. Being hungry sucks
Woke up today little disoriented, hungry and irritated. Was not a nice feeling – fell asleep again shortly after breakfast. And this is when my lifestyle otherwise is sedentary except for the evening run. Can only imagine the ordeal of someone who has to do hard labor on an empty stomach! I found myself adding in higher amounts of sugar and salt in my food to compensate for the lack of quantity.
5. The world is your playground – literally
Can’t afford the gym, so decided to change my workout to free-running (3-4km), squats, push-ups, crunches… will need to find some good sized stones to do lifting if possible.
6. Travel is trouble
Any daily commute beyond 5 km is expensive, at least in Bangalore (assuming Re. 1 per km if using bus/motorcycle). Sharing a bike or using a bicycle is a good approach. But typically where people work are usually high rent areas, which means transport must be significantly eating into the wallets for the average Indian. Also, without cheap transport, it isn’t easy to get to large wholesale markets to buy relatively cheaper food, adding to the costs.
I need to travel a fair bit for work tomorrow to town, so as I sleep, I am already making mental calculations for what I will need to cut from my food in order to make that extra space for travel costs. Its a tough life, but at least I can enjoy this late night dessert I made of half bread lightly fried with a spoon of white gold (milk), oil and sugar. “Shahi tukda”? I dont know about that “Shahi” bit!