A Week In Bangalore, India, On A $67,000 Salary

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Today: a technology associate working in consulting who makes $67,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on an Oreo McFlurry.
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Occupation: Technology Associate
Industry: Consulting
Age: 23
Location: I'm currently living in Bangalore, India, but I'm based in New York City
Salary: $67,000
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,884
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $0 (I just started my job and haven't officially moved to New York yet. My friend is in the process of finding an apartment for the two of us. My company pays for us to stay in a hotel in India.)
Student Loan Payment: $0 (Thank you, Mom and Dad!)
Cell Phone: $0 (I'm still on the family plan.)
Netflix: $0 (I use my family's account.)
Amazon Prime: $13.13
Dollar Shave Club: $6
Spotify/Hulu: $13.93
Headspace: $13.99 (I've experienced some traumatic events this year, and in conjunction with therapy, meditating with Headspace has helped me so much.)
MoviePass: $7.95 (This is a Father's Day present to my dad.)
Credit Cards: $0 (I recently paid off the leftover debt from my college/post-grad spending.)
Savings: It fluctuates, especially since most of my fixed expenses are paid for while I'm in India, but I try to put away at least $1,000.
401(k): $670 (12% of my pre-tax income)
Acorns Investing: ~$50. (This is an app that links to your bank account(s), rounds up your purchases to the nearest dollar, and invests the change. I've been using it since January and have accrued a very healthy rainy day fund.)

Day One

9:45 a.m. — I wake up feeling groggy, but miraculously not hungover. I'm currently on a three-month business trip in India for training. Five of my Indian coworkers live together, and we had a party at their house last night, complete with homemade panipuri (a delicious kind of street food), wine and whiskey, and tons of Indian and American dancing. I head up to the hotel's (free) breakfast bar, where I have a masala omelette and chole bature with coffee and catch up with a coworker who didn't come to the party. She's having issues with her boyfriend back in the U.S., and we both get very emotional trying to decide what the right course of action is. I went through the same situation a while back, so it's tough to hear someone else going through it.
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12:15 p.m. — I switch out my Indian SIM card for my American one. I bought an Indian card thinking it would work, but unfortunately my phone needs to be unlocked to use it, which voids the warranty. Alas, it's back to the $10/day Verizon international roaming charge. Thankfully, I keep my phone on airplane mode during the week and use wifi to get on WhatsApp/social media; then I turn on roaming when I'm out on the weekends. Honestly, I really like that I can't be on my phone all the time. I Venmo the charge to my parents. $10
1:15 p.m. — A couple of my friends and I head over to Decathlon, a store that doubles as my personal heaven (imagine if REI and Dick's Sporting Goods had a retail child, but with way cheaper prices). We don't have it in the U.S. yet, so I can only go when I'm abroad. I buy an assortment of clothes and workout items as well as a float for the pool at the house we rented for our upcoming trip to Thailand ($51.94). After, we walk to the mall nearby, where we have an amazing lunch at an Italian restaurant. It's quite pricey for where we live — my meal of a drink, steak, and dessert comes out to $24.28 with tax and tip — but most of the time I spend very little on meals here, so I don't feel guilty about splurging. (NYC prices are astronomical compared to Bangalore.) I pick up the bill to rack up credit card points, and everyone else Venmos me for their share. $76.22
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4:45 p.m. — I Uber to my friends' house to do my laundry. We have laundry service at the hotel but it's very costly, so I've been hand washing everything in my bathroom up until this point (also I don't trust anyone but myself with my clothes). My friends discovered this and generously offered their washer for me to use. While my laundry is going, we lounge around and talk for a few hours and at one point have a hilarious singing competition. $1.64
8:20 p.m. — I head out with the guys to get dinner as my clothes hang dry. We have thali (multiple chutneys served with naan), and it's delicious. Despite what many people told me before I left New York, Indian food is the only thing I've eaten here that hasn't made me sick at all. The boys offer to cover my bill, so I buy us chocolate paan for dessert ($0.44). We head home, and I collect my clothes, Uber back to the hotel ($1.35), and pass out after a quick call to my parents. $1.79
Daily Total: $89.65

Day Two

8:10 a.m. — I make a mad dash to breakfast — I'm running late this morning! I had an early FaceTime call with my ex, who is currently interning in D.C. We had a pretty excruciating breakup a few months ago but time and a LOT of honest communication have allowed us to remain in each other's lives as great friends (this is the only time this has ever worked for me). We catch up for a while and discuss the myriad experiences we're having this summer. He's one of the few people I can be completely open with, which I'm always thankful for.
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11 a.m. — Phew! We take a much-needed coffee break at work. I'm a full-stack software developer, but I have limited experience in computer science, so pretty much all of my energy during the workday goes into focusing hard on our training material. I'm not going to lie, it's really hard, but this is my first big girl job, and if I'm going to make a name for myself in the industry, especially as a woman in tech, then I need to work my butt off. My friend, J., also helps me out a ton — he's a great coder and is always willing to answer my questions.
12:45 p.m. — We head upstairs for lunch. I order Chinese cauliflower with rice followed by a golden latte and coconut cookies. This is my go-to meal (though after India I doubt I'll be able to bring myself to buy a trendy $7 latte at a coffee shop ever again). All of us sit at a long table and reminisce about this weekend's festivities. Then we take a brief walk outside; the weather in Bangalore is akin to California, so even though it's monsoon season, it's usually 80 degrees and breezy. $1.23
4:10 p.m. — I get off work early and race home to the hotel; it's across the road from the office. One of my Indian coworkers, S., texts to tell me I left my laptop charger and asks if I want it now or if he should hold onto it until tomorrow. I reply with the latter, since I need to decompress. A note about S.: I've been getting vibes from him, and a friend confirmed he's into me, but it's been slow-going. I don't know whether to chalk this up to cultural differences (according to my friends, people are still getting used to dating as a concept in general in even the more cosmopolitan areas of India) or if he's just shy — probably both — and I really do find him quite cute, but also if he doesn't make a move soon, I know I'm going to lose interest. I need a sign from the universe!
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5:30 p.m. — I order chicken spring rolls from room service as a snack/early dinner. Most of the food here is very carb- and fiber-heavy, so I typically have a light dinner or skip it altogether if I'm still full from lunch. Room service is convenient, but I really miss cooking. The rolls arrive, and I chow down, sip on wine, and listen to my favorite podcast, The High Low. $5.62
6:30 p.m. — Meet up with three of my coworkers in the hotel lobby and walk to the mall across the street to go see Mission Impossible: Fallout. We get tickets for the cushy recliner seats in the back of the theater and I buy mixed cheddar and caramel popcorn — my favorite!! The movie is okay, but it does include lots of Paris scenery and I spend the first half of the film trying to see how many places I can identify onscreen. A fun fact about going to the movies in India is that the national anthem is played before each film, and there's an intermission like they had in the early days of movie theaters. We head back home after the movie. $10.05
Daily Total: $16.90

Day Three

7:25 a.m. — It's payday!!! My colleagues and I decide to go out to celebrate tonight and I get ready for work while dancing to my morning playlist and feeling generally good, despite the fact that I stayed up too late. I've been trying to slowly introduce brushing my teeth with sink water instead of bottled water because it's more sustainable and less of a nuisance. I had some stomach issues last night but I feel a little better this morning. Is this a bad idea? Probably, but clearly I'm willing to subject my stomach to risky situations in the name of curiosity (read: laziness).
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9:45 a.m. — My paycheck is here! As much as I like getting paid, I LOVE budgeting and try to track every single purchase (spreadsheets give me life). I browse the shoe section on Yoox for a while because I feel like treating myself but end up not buying anything as 1) I can't wear the shoes here and 2) tonight's dinner is going to be relatively expensive. I opened a checking account for my fixed expenses instead and will transfer over money when I need to pay for my apartment in NYC.
1 p.m. — Head to the cafeteria and order paneer makhani (sooo good) with mushrooms. I discuss what I'm going to cook with some of the guys at their house this week. As we're leaving, S., who lives in the house, suggests we go grocery shopping together before I make dinner, and I say yes. It'll be the first time we've actually hung out alone. Is the universe working in my favor after all? $1.02
4:40 p.m. — I leave work and go back to my hotel room to take a bath before we go out for the evening. I take a bath almost every day — it's my number one way to relax. I shave my legs (it's been quite a while), since the restaurant we're going to tonight has an infinity pool.
6:20 p.m. — I call us an Uber over to the mall where the restaurant is ($0.92) and end up having to turn on my phone to text some of our coworkers who are meeting up with us because I can't get on the mall's wifi ($10). I'm a bit peeved about this but forget about it when we take the elevator up to the roof — it's SO beautiful. You can see all of Bangalore from here! Unfortunately, it turns out the pool is part of the hotel on top of the mall, not the restaurant itself, and it's about $10 to swim in it, so I (very reluctantly) pass on going in. $10.92
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7:15 p.m. — I order two mojitos, a double Jägerbomb, and mac and cheese with shrimp and truffle oil (it brings a tear to my eye just thinking about how delicious that sounds), and eat a bit of the meat platter we ordered as well. I eat mostly vegetarian, and I forgot how fast meat fills you up! We spend the evening joking around and dancing — the DJ at this place is surprisingly good — and it almost feels like we're back at home in New York, even if only for a little bit. I have consistently laughed and had more fun in the past month of this job than I have in a long time, and I'm truly grateful for the friends I've made here. $60.61
9:30 p.m. — The gang splits up; half our group goes to another restaurant to get post-drinking pizza, one friend goes home and I pay for his Uber since he doesn't have cell service ($1.45), then I walk with our friends back to their house to hang out. On the walk, S. and I discuss places in Bangalore we've visited — most of our Indian friends are new here as well — and after gushing over how much I liked the Lalbagh Botanical Gardens, he suggests we go together next week. I say yes and he clarifies with: “just the two of us” (!!). I'm happy he finally asked me out. Back at the house, my coworker, K., and I chow down on aloo paratha and discuss the cultural differences between India and the U.S. with everyone. I start yawning after about two hours and order us an Uber home ($1.45), where I proceed to crash immediately. If you haven't guessed by now, Uber is extraordinarily inexpensive in India. $2.90
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Daily Total: $75.45

Day Four

8:30 a.m. — I really struggled to wake up today; for some reason I haven't been sleeping that well this week. At work, I surf Amazon and decide to buy an alarm clock to wake me up — using my phone in the morning gives me brain fog and I end up scrolling through Instagram/Snapchat for too long. Maybe I should just delete them?? I've done it before but I always come crawling back. $8.32
12:30 p.m. — Not much is really happening today. I know I need to study really badly after work, and I'm already dreading it. At lunch I have a paneer and dahl combo with naan. I eat pretty quickly and head back to our classroom so I can look over the training material during the break. $1.02
3:50 p.m. — We take a tea break, and my friends and I spend it chatting with our trainer, who is at least 40 but also a high-key dreamboat. My sister FaceTimes me randomly (it's 6:20 a.m. where she is in the U.S.), and we chat — she's feeling sick and can't go back to sleep. She's a lot younger than me, but we're really close, and I hate that we can't talk more due to our 9.5-hour time difference.
6:30 p.m. — Wow, I will do anything to procrastinate! Instead of studying I clean my room, work on my budget, and watch two episodes of The Alienist (highly recommend). I realize I'm craving some me time — one of my favorite things to do in New York is wander around outside with my headphones in. However, it's not safe to do that here, so I go across the street to Big Bazaar (like the Target of India) and peruse the aisles while listening to Call Your Girlfriend for almost an hour before getting things I actually want. I buy a tank top, palazzo pants, a hairbrush and straightener, rosewater spray, hair serum, mango juice, bananas, yogurt, butter rusk, and cheese spread. At the cash register I try to work on my Hindi with the cashier — it's slow-going, but I really want to get better, as speaking it makes life a lot easier here. $41.76
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9:45 p.m. — I get back home and put away my purchases while listening to an advanced Java lecture on YouTube. I'm slowly starting to get it (yay, progress!), and I fall asleep halfway into the talk.
Daily Total: $51.10

Day Five

7:20 a.m. — I'm doing my hair, courtesy of my straightener impulse buy from last night (I have curly hair and very rarely style it) and the power goes out in my room. Panic ensues for the next five minutes until, miraculously, the lights come back on. I can proceed with the day without looking like I have a lion's mane!
10 a.m. — At work today we're training on high-level Java concepts (most of the words I've never even heard before) and even though I understand the theory, I'm struggling to get the syntax to actually code it. Instead, I make a spreadsheet detailing how much my coworkers owe me from our dinner at the rooftop bar the other night (I picked up the bill, again, for the credit card points). I share it with my friends and everyone Venmos me.
12:45 p.m. — I head upstairs for a quick lunch of chole bature before going across the street to the hotel. I clean a bit (S. and I are going to the grocery store after work but will have to stop by my room first) and grab a dark chocolate bar with orange peel to pass around in training this afternoon. $0.87
3:20 p.m. — Work is still dragging! In between coding lectures, I spend most of my afternoon looking at NYC apartments on Zillow and StreetEasy. I've committed to two apartments so far and then had them fall through. I'm really happy I finally found a friend who is also new to the city and is committed to finding a place. I send her two-bedroom options that look promising.
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4:30 p.m. — Free at last! S. and I walk over to the hotel. He waits in the lobby while I change, because it's too much trouble to get him registered as a guest who can go upstairs. Our hotel has a very strict policy when it comes to guests, but especially ones of the opposite sex. It can feel very oppressive sometimes — sexuality (and, by default, open conversations about it) is notably absent in public life in Bangalore as compared to everyday life in the U.S. — but I can't complain, since I stay here for free.
5:20 p.m. — S. and I finish up our grocery shopping at Big Bazaar. I'm planning on making Southern American food for the guys — I'm from the South — but we have to improvise a bit since certain ingredients aren't at the store. At checkout, S. insists on paying, and says the guys will split the bill since I'm cooking. We share the cost of an auto rickshaw back to the house and end up getting caught in the rain and subsequent traffic. I don't really mind, since it allows us to chat while we wait. When we get to their house, the power is out, so I nap while waiting for it to come back on so we can get started making dinner. $0.73
10:15 p.m. — Things are going well in the kitchen! I have to improvise a bit and end up making Indian-style Southern food. The boys, two of my American coworkers, and I gather around in the living room to eat spicy tomato and okra stew and cheesy dahl (lentils) with paneer. I whip up pancakes with homemade mango syrup for dessert. I'm exhausted from cooking, and we all sit in a food coma afterwards and listen to one of our friends play the drums, then head home a little after midnight.
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Daily Total: $1.60

Day Six

7:30 a.m. — I take my time getting ready this morning. I've gotten really into skincare in the past few months (for a long time, my only products were soap and coconut oil) and I'm loving the rosewater spray I bought. It's not Mario Badescu, but for how cheap it is, it really does the trick. On the way out of breakfast I snag a coffee mug to take to work — we only have tiny paper cups to use with the office espresso machine.
1 p.m. — While going to lunch, I stop at the ATM in the office and get out cash for our trip to Punjab this weekend. The ATM fee ($8.08) is a bit steep, so I typically take out a lot of cash at once, but it's worth it because I'm so excited! Punjab is in the northernmost area of India (on the border with Pakistan) and one of my coworkers, P., has family there, so they're taking all of us around for the weekend. I take my rupees and head to the mall across the street, where I get lunch at Subway and an Oreo McFlurry for dessert before hurrying back to the office. $12.94
5 p.m. — After work, I take a bubble bath and order shrimp alfredo from room service for dinner. I spend most of the evening watching Jimmy Fallon videos and not packing (oops). I should clean my room, but I end up just laying in bed in the air conditioning until I scramble to pack 10 minutes before we have to meet in the lobby to leave for the airport. $7.24
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8:10 p.m. — All 10 of us meet in the lobby; there are no Uber XLs floating around, so we split three different cars to get us to the airport on time ($5.53). I turn on my cell service so my parents can know where I am since I'm traveling (I Venmo them $20 for the two days I'll be using it), and I text with S. during the hour-long ride. Our dynamic has definitely changed after Thursday night — it feels more comfortable and natural. Once we get through security, I buy drinks (there's real orange juice here!!) for the flight ($4.96), and we board our flight to Delhi, where we have a connection to our final destination, Amritsar. $30.49
Daily Total: $50.67

Day Seven

3 a.m. — We're hanging out in the Delhi airport for our 5:15 a.m. flight. Half of us are sleeping and the other half are exploring. I pick up cashew cookies ($0.44) at a snack shop and my friend and I split a combo from Pizza Hut ($4.97). The pizza is really not that good. $5.41
4:45 a.m. — While waiting to board, my friend notices an older man taking photos of her and our other friend as they're sitting at the gate. He then shows the photos to two of his other friends, and my friend is fuming. He leaves but soon returns, and she proceeds to tell him off in Hindi. He immediately dismisses my friend, telling her not to make a scene, which only makes her angrier, and by the time security comes over to investigate, they are both shouting at each other. CCTV footage shows P. is right, but the men refuse to apologize and we board the plane without confirmation that the photos have been deleted. India is one of the lowest-ranked countries for gender equality in the world, but we've been lucky to have not experienced much of that until now. It's an upsetting reminder that even in the metro parts of India, women still face serious discrimination.
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7 a.m. — We meet P.'s family outside of the Amritsar airport. It is HOT here. Immediately, we all drive off to see the Golden Temple. It's the most significant Sikh shrine, and it's stunningly beautiful. P.'s dad has a connection and we get to skip the entire line — it's about a four-hour wait — and walk through the temple. Afterwards we ride in a real (horse-drawn) rickshaw to the car and bask in the air conditioning on the way to eat breakfast.
11 a.m. — After a breakfast of the best chole bature and chai I've ever had, we visit an old-style Punjabi town. At a restaurant nearby, I have amazing sweet lassi, and P.'s sister and I escape to hang out in the air-conditioned bathroom for relief from the heat.
3:20 p.m. — We drive to the Wagah (India/Pakistan border) to watch the ceremony that happens there at sundown. We all nap (none of us really slept last night) while waiting.
7 p.m. — We're sitting in a giant stadium to watch the border ceremony — it's a demonstration of Indian national pride as well as a show of keeping the peace with Pakistan. The energy is crazy! It feels like a giant party, pep rally, and military parade all combined into one, and any tiredness we were feeling before dissipates in the hype going on around us.
8:40 p.m. — We're on the road to P.'s family's house about two hours from Amritsar. Everyone is completely exhausted from traveling and the excitement of the day. It feels really nice to be with someone's family, and it makes me miss my own. I order thongs on the Amazon app (I have a somewhat-confirmed hypothesis that they are extremely difficult to purchase in India) and fall asleep snuggled up to my travel pillow. $19.95
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Daily Total: $25.36
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