October 27, 2011
India is home to a quarter of the world’s hungry — about 230 million people — according to the World Food Programme. About half of the country’s children are malnourished, a record poorer than the world’s poorest area, sub-Saharan Africa .
Hardly a day went by during the past month, in which we didn’t think of food. And no, it wasn’t because we couldn’t get our minds off of planning the first meal we would have at the end of our experiment. Rather, it was because, food was the largest component of our budget at both Rs. 100/day (50%) and Rs. 32/day (68%).
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October 21, 2011
At least, that’s been the unanimous opinion of people we talked to in Karukachal so far (sample size 5). And, it isn’t the case that we are talking to people shelling out loads of money on living expenses. A majority of them are consumers of PDS (Public Distribution System) goods at Below Poverty Line (BPL) prices. Primarily, our conversations involved the issue of food, which is supposed to take up Rs. 17/day. Our sources implied that it would take the willful suspension of disbelief to even imagine spending such a paltry amount on food. They cringed at the possibility of eating a limited menu, which wasn’t very appetizing, and dismissed outright the possibility that a manual laborer would get the adequate nutrition at that price point. An insightful audio interview with one of them – a local day laborer who also taught Matt to play soccer – can be heard here (translation included)
We couldn’t agree more, sitting in comfy chairs
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October 18, 2011
Today began with 2 sleepy heads getting up early in the morning to get blood tests done in Kottayam in Kerala. After that, we indulged ourselves with a banana and 5 Parle Gs (total Rs. 4) each before taking a rickety bus ride to Karukachal, a sub-urban town 17 km from Kottayam. To those unfamiliar with Kerala bus rides, they are one of India’s must experience great adventures: High speed competitions between private bus companies on single and double lane roads that would put most hollywood thrillers to shame. We were contemplating getting bicycles in Karukachel to travel to Kottayam or Kumarakom; but after witnessing the roads, are having second thoughts already! Burning through the last piece of our reserves from the days we were rich (aka lived at Rs. 100 a day), we finally made it to Karukachal in one piece.
As excited as we were about entering the new phase in our experiment, the reality of it finally hit us pretty strongly as tiredness set in. Don’t know if it was the low blood sugar levels from the light breakfast or the hangover of the 14 hour third class train travel in which we had barely split a railways meal, so that we could scrape through without overdrawing on our reserves. As we walked to Matt’s ancestral home to pick up our sheets, the heat, hunger and exhaustion got to us and we slept off at the house – Matt in the verandah itself!
Next to our room in Karukachal
We were woken up
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