Wednesday, 17 June 2015

The Bang in Each Buck

A (in a bragging tone): "I bought four belts for the price of three!"
B (chortles): "I bought five!"

Most of us Indian's have have been privy to similar conversations all our lives. We pat our own backs each time we negotiate a good bargain or get much more for the same budget. Our haggling skills are famous the world over, and each deal we seal is stamped with the label of "paisa vasool". While some of us are proud of this quirky trait, some others are not. Before I delve into the topic of paisa vasool, let us understand why we are the way we are.

Our ancestors have lived through very difficult times when power was concentrated in the hands of few and benefits hardly trickled down to the common man. From the times of foreign rulers who commanded over various provinces, we have learnt that most of the gold was stored in the royal treasury and the peasants worked hard to pay their taxes. Then came several periods of war when stocks of everything, from food and clothing to money and arms, was closely monitored and people would consume only measured portions of their stockpile.

India has seen multiple instances of famines and droughts. And each of these occurrences have taught our predecessors to ration their food and earnings and bargain well to ensure they get the bang for their buck. The situation today is quite pleasantly different. We are developing and the birth of the ambitious and well heeled middle class has seen a spurt in our wants and wishes. One thing, however, has not changed - our quest for a paisa vasool deal.

We may have six figure salaries and live in plush homes, but we still haggle with the grocer to have our weekly supplies in three-fourths of the quoted price. We often have two cars and at least one sedan, but when we shop for another vehicle, we mull over the mileage and maintenance cost. We love global high street brands and flaunt the latest gadgets, but we always shop during a sale so we can get a paisa vasool deal!

A Paisa Vasool Meal! We love buffet over a la carte as we get to taste it all for the same amount of money

Our pursuit for paisa vasool must not be misconstrued as our willingness to settle for poor quality. No! We are sticklers for supreme quality, but we like to achieve it in the most economical way. Our Mangalyaan (Mars Mission) and Tata Nano (cheapest car) are proof of the world class stuff we can do without burning a hole in our pockets. The paisa vasool phenomenon is actually our quest for 'value'. We are not so much after the price tag, but the worth of goods and services we buy. Our value based economy binds us together and makes us a great country to do business with.

Take for example, the growth of medical tourism in India. Our doctors and surgeons are equipped to perform complex surgeries and procedures for almost one-tenth the cost of the same treatments in developed economies. Another great example is the massive technology and business process outsourcing industry in our country. Hundreds of multinational firms have their technology centres in India, thanks to the superior quality service and IT-product delivery we have here - all for the fraction of the cost in western countries.

It is also our paisa vasool nature that has prompted our favourite German airline - Lufthansa to introduce their premium economy class in India. The #LufthansaPremiumEconomy is exactly what the upper middle class Indian has always been looking for on her next flight abroad! It is economical, but is worth a lot more. There is more room to wiggle around, a footrest and an allowance of two checked bags of 50 pounds each! This means, I can carry my all my favourite books on my next long Eurotrip without having to throw out any of my carefully picked clothes. For a fraction of the cost of a business class ticket, I have my own drink holder on the armrest and so much extra storage space. I no longer have to stuff my carry-on jacket in the overhead unit. Instead, I can just secure it with the belt beside my seat! The foodie in me also loves the delightful cuisines on offer and the cute little water-bottle holder between the seats! And let's not forget that we all have work commitments which we can fulfill in the sky with our own sockets and USB ports! When we are tired of working, we can always unwind using the amazing inflight entertainment system. Long haul flights are the best places to watch those movies you have never found time for.

After looking at the list of awesome privileges above, I honestly cannot think of anything else I could have asked for, except for maybe Lufthansa to introduce domestic flights for us as well! ;-) You will surely agree that the Lufthansa Premium Economy is the perfect paisa vasool offering for us Indians who always look for the bang in each buck!

I would love to hear your quirky stories of how you strike paisa vasool deals in your day to day life! So please write to me with your stories.


  1. All I read here is 'to be continued'!
    Paisa vasool?
    I'm sure you've forgotten to add text here... please do it before the indi team takes their screen shot.

    1. Thanks, Arvind, for pointing out the error! :-) It has been rectified as you can see.


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