Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Conversion Phobia

I clearly remember our first day in foreign land. Hubs and I were waiting at Heathrow for our connecting flight to Manchester. After a exhausting flight, some water and a cup of coffee was in order. That was the first time we transacted in Pounds.

In India, there is only one type of bottled water i.e. mineral water or 'Bisleri', a generic term used for any bottled water. After having collided with a rows of neatly stacked bottles of various names and shapes at the airport lounge, I committed a faux pas by picking up a bottle labeled 'Sparkling Water'. The name suggested water and that's what we wanted. It turned out to be fizzy water and with a heavy heart we had to buy another bottle of Water. This time though the bottle was scrutinized thoroughly to avoid making another error. It was quite painful to pay a lot of money for a teeny bottle of water. I could hear my brain whir, quickly converting the amount paid in pounds to Rupees and calculating the cost of bottle in Indian Currency. It was an enormous amount and we made the water last quite a while. The cost could have fed 4 people a nice vegetarian lunch.

My family knows me as a spender and not a saver. My father would have been extremely proud to see me in a misers uniform. When you put your entire savings on moving to a foreign country, its inevitable that you take care of the pennies and also the pounds.

The first few months in UK, I was a virtual walking and talking human calculator...every expense made was converted in Indian currency without wasting a second. Every purchase was followed by astonished exclaims about the cost and a quick comparison to India.

As the days passed, this phobia lessened but has still not gone away. In spite of spending 2 years away I still cannot get over this habit.

Do any of you living outside India ever faced this phobia?

5 comments:

Vyazz said...

Coming to a new country can always be a perplexing experience for many. But I'd prefer going to Britain or US instead.
When we arrived in Russia, not a soul spoke English, though the currency conversion was not that big a deal, I had a hellish time being a shy 18 year old ignorant of the language,trying my best to buy a loaf of bread to a rather grouchy cashier who spoke nothing but Russian...

Lazy Pineapple said...

yeah I can surely understand, it must be tough when you cannot communicate...most of it is left to sign lanuguage.

AmitL said...

Hi,LP,well,I'd say 'worry not-it happens to everyone'..the first time I came to UAE was for three months only, on deputation from my Indian Co. And,at that time, I was a real *into 10* man...toothbrushes costing 65 bucks, water costing 12 bucks,lunch costing 65 bucks and so on...did manage to save 2000 USD in those three months, btw,besides buying a dream video camera(Outdated now,of course)...and,from a non-princely salary of barely 30k when converted.
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Of course,now I'm not so conscious..and,believe me,after being in India for 1.5 months,before coming here for 17 days, I can safely say,this place is cheaper...hahaha!But honestly, in some aspects it is.For eg, in India,lemons were 100 Rs a kg when I left, and here they're still the equivalent of Rs 50.
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In fact,come to think of it, prices in India have quadruplicated since 1997,while here they're more or less stable.:)
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And,on another thought-don't you appreciate something much more when you save to buy it than when you can afford it without a second thought?Sighhh!!!:)

Lazy Pineapple said...

Amit: Good to know you have got over the conversion factor. I hope I get over it soon enough. And costs in India definitely have increased in leaps and bounds...that's what I hear from friends and family.

Lazy Pineapple said...

Amit: Good to know you have got over the conversion factor. I hope I get over it soon enough. And costs in India definitely have increased in leaps and bounds...that's what I hear from friends and family.

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