Who Me, Poor?: How India's Youth are Living in Urban Poverty to Make it Big Paperback – 16 Aug 2017
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About the Author
Gayatri Jayaraman is a Mumbai-based single mom, senior journalist and editor. She began her career with Femina magazine as its Hyderabad bureau chief and went on to DNA, and Mint Lounge. While a senior editor with India Today magazine in Mumbai, she was their resident art writer, book reviewer, apart from covering politics, crime, culture and society. She was also instrumental in conceptualising DailyO, the India Today group's award winning digital opinion website, as well as the inaugural edition of the India Today Art Awards. As a prolific writer who specialises in spotting social trends that typically stand at the cusp of socio-cultural, economic, and political forces, her best known articles have been firsts, cover stories for the most respected publications in the country, and have ranged from revealing the hypocrisy of the industry around Silk Smitha, the lives of sailors kidnapped by pirates, to the crumbling of Kamathipura, the caste politics of millet crops, to the secret sexism in Indian science, how declining food diversity impacts malnutrition as well as the seminal study of the life of a surrogate in India. She is known for getting inside social situations in terms of research and insight and her features frequently go viral.
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Who me, poor?, walks you through the lives of professionals working in media, consulting and fashion industries, and their experiences at multiple levels of living the lives of consequential existence. The book acts as a fear agent to drive its point with a passing glance over what can be done. The suggestions provided are not something which you need to write down, they are simple, basically which we tend to lose sight of so easily.
So, if you are looking for suggestions on a financial plan to tackle money crunch at the start of the career, then it is better to pick some other book. But if you want to know the cause of your instability, then this can be a pick for you.
The book explains this, draws from the experience of people who have gone through it and come out, people who are going through it and people who chose to return to their hometowns after deciding that the job wasn’t worth going through this. Basically it uses the oldest method of teaching a lesson, horror stories. And if I had read this a few years ago I might have been living a better life.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not the kind of person to spend money of drinks and drugs and the right brand of shoes, but I did get shoes and clothes, maybe not branded but I got them. And I realise now, with a wardrobe full of fancy clothes that I never really liked anyway but bought because that’s what everyone else was wearing, I actually have nothing to wear despite having spent so much. It is a conundrum isn’t it. You cannot be the stick in the mud small town types while aspiring to lead people one day in an industry appearances matter (which is almost every industry these days).
WHAT I LIKED: The book doesn’t pretend to give you proper advice, there is a small section at the end that summarises and provides you with common sense that is terribly uncommon these days. But apart from that small section it is without advice yet still you are left knowing exactly what you did wrong. Had I been more careful with my money I might have had a new car today, maybe put down a down payment on my house, maybe I would have had tons in savings and could just live off that for my necessities, food electricity, etc. It makes you realise these things in such an intelligent “advice without the actual nagging” manner that I have to appreciate this book.
WHAT I DISLIKED: It got a little repetitive. I mean, the author goes on to explain certain portions and why they do it. I suppose this would be necessary for someone who isn’t familiar with this problem, maybe an older audience who lived at a time where what work you did was more important that what outfit you did said work in. But for someone like me, who knows photographers, aspiring directors, actors, artists, event planners, authors and so on (I studied arts, what did you expect), people who lived mostly like this, it felt like an unnecessary expansion and repetition on what was already clear.
Then again without the repetition I might not have felt so terrified of life so that is always there. Just a bit of advice when picking this book up, don’t read it when you are in a precarious position in your life and career, you’ll be feeling depressed and like life isn’t worth living. Definitely read it though if you are starting a career in a more appearances based field. (not good looks, rich looks)
The part about credit cards and EMI’s was like a wakeup call because I’m guilty of buying expensive stuff and paying excessive financial charges. And like me, there will be others, a huge mass of them. I felt like this book was meant for this crowd, (the ones who spend on something that to most parents would look unnecessary) to create an awareness, to make them understand that impressions can be made without the need for spending more than they can afford.
A must read, especially for youngsters who have just started out with their first jobs.
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