“Diesel, milk, vegetables and meat… the increase in price of these essential commodities is making life tough. We have had to cut corners to make ends meet,” lamented Mahalinga S., a taxi driver and resident of Jaffar Block in Palace Guttahalli.
Mr. Mahalinga and his wife, Shobha, who works as a domestic help, together earn around Rs. 22,500 a month. They live in a one-room house along with their two young children, who study at a private school nearby.
After paying the equated monthly instalment (EMI) towards the car loan, rent, school fees and maintenance, the couple is left with around Rs. 2,500 to manage their household. “We do not want our children to feel the pinch, so we make sacrifices for them,” he said.
Mr. Mahalinga said that he has to spend at least Rs. 3,000 a month on maintenance and fuel expenses of his car. He pays Rs. 10,000 as EMI. From the Rs. 9,500 that is left, the family pays Rs. 4,000 as rent, Rs. 1,200 as school fees and Rs. 350 towards water and electricity bills. “With what is left, we have to manage for the entire month. We cannot even afford to fall ill, as we cannot bear the medical expenses.”
Ms. Shobha said school fees had been hiked this academic year. “To cut corners, I use less dal and fewer vegetables in the sambar. We try to have only ragi at night to reduce consumption of rice. We buy meat (chicken) only once in three months or so. From half-a-kilo, the quantity of meat has reduced to around 250 gm. We buy it for the children,” she said.
The family has also reduced the television viewing time and rarely uses ceiling fans. This, they claim, has helped bring down their electricity bill by a small fraction. The family, which was able to save at least Rs. 1,000 a month last year, has run out of all savings.
Mr. Mahalinga said his customers were not willing to pay more, even after being informed of the hike in diesel prices. “I have to drive my cab despite this. I am ready to work all through the day if it means that life will be a little comfortable for my children,” he added.