Main Aur Meri EMI: Ek Choti Si Love Story


Main Aur Meri EMI: Ek Choti Si Love Story

Illustration: Robin Chakraborty

Iam a boilerplate twenty-something educated urban adult. I live in a cosmopolitan city, I have a college degree, and I grew up somewhere between Chitrahaar and MTV, in a corner close to the place where Zee Cinema meets HBO. My Facebook and Insta feed is filled with my friends checking-in to other countries, swanky places, and quaint cafes. I myself live, what I call, a luxurious life.

Most of my meals travel to me from faraway kitchens by men unknown to me who work for Swiggy and Zomato. I am driven around the city in a variety of cars, again by men unknown to me, who work with Ola and Uber. My adventures take place in malls where I shop for outfits and food that come in attractive packaging, and on Amazon who keeps sending me emails on things that I might need to fill whatever gaps there are in my life – they’re usually right. I also like staying in nice hotels whenever I travel and these last-minute trips naturally involve air travel and private taxis.

I’m inseparable from my Canon DSLR, my iPhone, and my MacBook, each of which roughly cost the same. If you’re beginning to think of me as a snob who’s burning daddy’s cash, please note, my life is entirely sponsored by myself and the various banks I have personal loans and credit cards with.

As someone with a good track record of jobs and salary accounts, banks love me and I have come to make the most of that. The fact that I get to live the best version of my life in easy monthly instalments is a lifestyle I have chosen – a lifestyle with 14 per cent interest, but that’s ok.

My EMIs help me go where I know I wouldn’t be able to with my current snail-paced financial condition.

Most of us kids in India, where “udhar” is a synonym for indignity, were raised to treat credit cards as the Antichrist. The generations before us are stoic believers in “spend only what you can save”. Chaddar jitni badi ho, pair utne hi phailane chahiye. And of course, they are correct… for an era that is long gone. In the golden age of materialism that we occupy, it is impossible to live by the rules of previous generations.

And if those worries are a breeze, they don’t reach me because my cab’s windows roll up automatically. Because I may be a spender, but I’m not stupid.

In an alternate universe where I don’t have credit cards or EMIs, I’m part of the local train sweat session. I’m scared of it because I’ve been part of it. I’ve cried as I’ve missed college lectures and important meetings because the trains were too crowded to get in and I would have to wait on the platform for hours for space the size of my left foot. I’ve experienced hanging by moments because I could get pushed off the fast running train anytime. That almost kiss-with-death is as exhilarating as it is scary.

I love EMIs because of the ease they bring to my life. Isn’t that what we work toward anyway? Isn’t that why we work at all? A smoother way to cruise through life? Not to mention access to things I wouldn’t be able to save up for because I know myself and my “let’s live salary to salary” attitude.

In the alternate universe where I’m trying to save up for a Mac, I’m using my old laptop that gives a fake virus alert every 10 minutes. The F and R keys keep getting interchanged and hitting the spacebar sometimes starts a new line. This is the laptop that just goes off if the power cord is disconnected even for two seconds and all my mehnat is lost. My laptop isn’t able to keep up with the words flowing through my fingers and my work is affected. By getting the laptop when I could afford to pay ₹5,000 per month for it, I’ve achieved more than the worth I pay. Maybe in the long run I pay 15 per cent more, but in the immediate life that I live, it makes my work utterly, butterly, delicious.

In the same alternate universe, I want to go on a vacation – a place away from my work stress, but I am burdened by the stress that come with budget accommodation and commute. If you don’t get to fully chill, what’s the point?

My EMIs help me go where I know I wouldn’t be able to with my current snail-paced financial condition. I mean I do long for the day I won’t need them anymore, when savings will be the way to go to afford a much better life than I have right now. But until then, I’m going to sip this sangria I swiped on my credit card and make it larger – one instalment at a time.