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The perfume seller

There is excessive [tag]economic disparity[/tag] in Mumbai. It is a known phenomenon but never did the reality hit me so hard than the other day.

I was traveling in the second class compartment in a crowded [tag]local train[/tag]. Every now and then, a [tag]salesman[/tag] would board the compartment and advertise his wares. These salesmen have innovative strategies to attract the bored commuters’ attention. It’s definitely an art!

A [tag]perfume[/tag] seller got in at Thane and soon the whole compartment was filled with a sweet scent. Automatically people’s curious heads turned and he captured their interest in no time. He started speaking.

महिन्याला दोन हजार कमावता, दहा रुपयाचा परफ्यूम का नाही परवडणार? राजा सारखे जगा, घामाने भिजून कामाला जाण्यात काय अर्थ आहे? हा परफ्यूम वापरा आणि बघा सगळे कसे इंप्रेस होतात ते. तुमचे साहेब केबिन मध्ये बोलवून तुमहाला प्रोमोशन देतील! गारंटी देतो, घेऊन तर बघा.

(You are earning Rs. 2000 a month; why cant you afford a perfume for Rs. 10? Live like a king, whats the point in going to work smelling of sweat? Try this perfume and everyone in your office will be impressed. Your boss will call you into his cabin and give you a promotion. Just try, it works.)

He then went about offering free samples to everyone who stretched their hand. Within minutes the guy sold about 15 bottles and happily exited to the next compartment.
currency notes
What left me stunned was his line ‘You are earning 2000 per month’. How can people survive on such a paltry amount? Initially it was self-denial, ‘nobody earns so low’. But dammit, there ARE people who work in my office doing odd jobs such as cleaning the tables in the cafeteria, or keeping fresh stacks of paper near the printer. These guys earn an annual [tag]income[/tag] less than my monthly [tag]salary[/tag]. And yet they are much better off than the daily wage workers, who not only toil physically all day, but also wonder at the end of the day where their next meal is going to come from.

Yes, there is lot of money in Mumbai, and if you are hardworking and educated, you share the pie. If you are not educated and lack communication skills, the pie is a distant dream. Of course, I’m making this sound as simple as two plus two four, rather than talking about the grim facts. Things are getting increasingly polarized and the economic divide is staggering.

The perfume seller spread fragrance in the train, but thinking of all these things raised a stink.

Published inSocial Commentary


  1. NK NK

    Its a silly story but the message is powerful. The other day I spent 200 bucks at a multiplex watching a flop movie, and just outside the movie hall street children were playing. Some of them wore clothes.

  2. Raji Raji

    Couple of years ago, when I was overcoming a difficult phase and was looking for answers to big questions of life, I used to do one thing – ask various people including thelewalas selling bhuttas or cycle rikshaw puller, mochi and such people – how much they earn daily on an average? Whether they are happy and are able to manage their lives/needs?

    And to my surprise, what I found was – it is we people – working in MNCs, earning big salaries – who are having a tough time – never having enough, always having stress and still searching for happiness! And on the other hand – those people – we think as poor – were much happier than us! They all said they are able to manage their lives/needs and are satisfied with their lives !

    Reminds me of a quote : “Rich is not who has the most but who needs the least !”

  3. Arun Arun

    I guess this disparity is not restricted to metros (though it gets accentuated there) alone. I too wonder at times as to how do people manage with such meager income. I am not talking about daily wage workers, but reasonable govt jobs like school teacher, train ticket collector etc. Whenever I overhear conversations while traveling to my home town I get appalled when people talk about their finances.

    Yes, there is lot of money to be had in this country at this point in time with MNCs inundating but this wealth gulf is way too large and really worrying as this has direct impact on social stability. No wonder, these days we read about chain snatching, gruesome robberies with alarming regularity.

  4. Ash Ash

    Raji aani Arun chya comments shi mi sahamat aahe. Swatantrya nantar Nehrunni jevha Bharataalaa Socialism kaDe nela, tevha tech yogya hota. Parantu aataa to concept junaa zalaa ani naisargik rityaa capitalism ni varchasva miLavala aahe. He transition neet zaale naslyane samajaat imbalance yeNe swabhavik aahe.

    Prashna asa ki aapan kaay karu shakto?

  5. NK: Multiplexes charge exorbitant rates for no apparent reason. The trouble is, most of the conventional movie halls are being replaced by these and there is no other choice but to pay.

  6. Raji: Sometime back there was an international survey done to find people of which country are the happiest. To utter surprise of the world, Bangladesh turned out to be the country with ‘happiest’ people. India was also ranked somewhere in top 10, while countries like US and UK were in 30’s.

    Arun: This is probably the effect of “too much, too soon”. Our economy went on a red hot take-off path, which is good, but it has brought prosperity to a small segment of people. Reminds me of the “india shining” campaign by the NDA government.

    Ash: Your analysis may be right, but when were we really socialist? It was only in theory, dont you think so? Infact, we were neither here nor there.


  7. Money is no use if each one of the rich/relatively rich doesn’t do his own bit for the not so better-off.

  8. Gurdeepak
    Interesting what you say. But I disagree with the communist theory

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