My Rich Friends Want Epic Weekends, I Want to Pay Rent


My Rich Friends Want Epic Weekends, I Want to Pay Rent

Illustration: Shruti Yatam

If you’re a twenty-something trying to hack it in the big city, life is always a toss-up between affording a drink and making rent. It’s like George Orwell told us: All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.

So while people like me sweat the small stuff (like making enough to not have to eat Maggi at the end of the month), my friends only seem to worry about how to make an epic weekend. Nothing wrong with that, except that it costs a hell lot of money. Your weekend then becomes the equivalent of a Sanjay Leela Bhansali film. You look forward to having a great time but end up feeling massively ripped off and questioning your life choices.

My Prada-obsessed friend recently called me up to inform me about a music gig in South Mumbai that would be “sinful for us to miss”. I tried to sign up for it, while internally freaking out about how badly the tickets would dent my monthly grocery budget and how I’d have to push getting an air cooler for yet another summer. Well, so long as I have a life, I said to myself, and went on to book the tickets.   

But hanging out is a beast that needs to be constantly fed. After one music gig, the “scene” moves to a stand-up show, then an event on organic foods you barely know anything about, and concludes with a fancy dinner. Your Instagram stories are buzzing with these happy moments that validate your existence, but deep down you are consciously aware that this is a lifestyle that maybe your investment-banking, start-up-owning “bade baap ki beti” friends can afford, but not you.

So while people like me sweat the small stuff, my friends only seem to worry about how to make an epic weekend.

In the middle of a five-course dinner involving many rounds of expensive drinks, you become a sorry caricature of the “urban poor” millennial that Buzzfeed warned you about. Yes the same type you scoffed at when the article was first published. When the bill gets split five ways, you die on the inside because you thought sticking to fries and Old Monk would be safe. And then, just as you are about to suggest taking the train, your drunk friends yell, “Let’s just take an Uber, yaar!” Suddenly you’re sober again.

Only when you finally hit rock bottom on your credit card bills, you know it is time to draw the line. You start making excuses and suggesting you meet at this new cool place that also happens to be cheaper. You spearhead the “Let’s just Netflix and Chill” campaign ahead of a date to disguise your financial turmoil. You secretly street shop for clothes that look ridiculously similar to their branded counterparts. You start taking up more work on weekends, so you can justify missing out on the Bieber concert. You even develop a sudden urge to fast on some days.

As you silently suffer, you wish having a good time with friends was not synonymous with burning a hole in your pocket. You wish it was effortless like chatting about your life experiences over a cup of affordable chai and half a sandwich. You yearn for friends you can really talk to about your challenges and feelings than some social buddies you can take selfies with while eating an expensive plate of ravioli.

And then just as you’re making a vow to change your life and make it more real than sustaining a “high-on-life” agenda, a notification reminds you of an upcoming event that so-and-so rich friend is attending. You click “going” instinctively as you tell yourself yet again, “So long as you have a life.” After all, it’s only in the middle of the humid night, when you’re unable to sleep because of the heat, that you’ll think about the air cooler. That can wait. Life will not.