A Week In Pune, India, On A $34,153 Salary

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Today: a senior project manager working in software who makes $34,153 per year and spends some of her money this week on a plant. Editor's note: All prices have been converted to U.S. dollars.
Occupation: Senior Project Manager
Industry: Software
Age: 27
Location: Pune, India
Salary: $34,153
Paycheck Amount (Monthly): $2,277
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $0 (I live with my husband and in-laws at their home. In India this is very common, and almost expected.)
Student Loan Payment: $0 (My parents paid for my education.)
Health Care: $0 (It's covered by my work.)
Car Loan Payment: $200
Food Card: ~$40 (I have a card through work that gets loaded with money deducted from my taxable income every month.)
Pension Fund: $200
Utilities: $0 (My husband and I have a deal where he pays for all our home expenses, ~$450/month, since these costs also include his parents, and I pay for everything when we go out.)
Piano Class: $120
Systematic Investment Plans: $700 (mutual funds and life insurance)
Cook: $50 (Our cook comes for 30-60 minutes a day, 25 days per month.)
Additional Expenses
Zomato Gold Membership: $30/year (This is a popular restaurant membership in India that gives discounts on food and drinks at most restaurants in the city.)

Day One

8 a.m. — Time to wake up! Since I work with people in different time zones (South Africa, Romania, and the U.S.), my day can start relatively late. My husband, N., makes us cheese omelettes and I get the cappuccino machine started. (We're both big on cappuccinos.) We get ready, have breakfast, and head out the door after waving goodbye to N.'s parents at 9:30.
10 a.m. — I'm at my desk and ready to start work. It's the last day before a long weekend, so I spend all day feeling excited about it. I go through emails and work through my to-do list. We have a cappuccino machine at the office and our cafeteria always has a variety of biscuits that we can eat for free, so I get some at around noon. I am one of those creatures who constantly munches on everything in sight.
1 p.m. — It's time for lunch! I eat with my friends at work. We all brought food from home, but we always end up eating out of each other's lunch boxes. I brought my Thai red curry pasta, a sort of cooking experiment, and everyone absolutely loves it! One of my friends brought a dosas and sambhar, a South Indian dish. We all share while chitchatting, and I'm back at my desk by 1:45 p.m. Time to get back to those emails.
7 p.m. — The rest of the day is spent in meetings. I'm done by 7 p.m. and check Google Maps to check how bad the traffic is. Bad news! It's a disaster. I text N., as his office is on my way home, and we decide that we'll go for a walk near his office until the traffic dies down. The walk turns into a street food hunt, and we end up eating a lot of delicious food. We end with an amazing mango milkshake. I pay for the both of us. Street food is cheap, so it's just $8 total. Traffic dies down eventually, and we're home by 9:15 p.m. We go for another walk at around 10 p.m. and it's lights out at 11. $8
Daily Total: $8

Day Two

9 a.m. — It's a holiday today, so I sleep in until 9 and wake up to the sweet aroma of coffee. N. has already started the machine for us. (Bless that guy, he is a sweetheart.) India is still a predominantly patriarchal society, so very few husbands make coffee or cook breakfast for their wives. It's supposed to be a woman's job. (Grrrrrrr.) This makes me very angry, but luckily, N. is far from adhering to these gender roles.
1 p.m. — I don't know where the rest of the morning goes! I think it was all the Instagram surfing (oops). It's already time for lunch! One of the many benefits of living in India is you can easily hire help for everything. We have three maids — one cooks, one cleans the house, and one does the dishes and laundry. This way, when one needs to take the day off, the other two pick up her tasks. Our cook does a brilliant job on lunch; the rotis and vegetables taste fantastic! I spend the next couple of hours practicing my piano lessons and chatting with N. At 5 p.m., I do 30 minutes of yoga and then take a shower.
7 p.m. — It's time to head out and party with friends! I have been looking forward to this all day. I absolutely love this group of people — they are fun, easygoing, and they never judge! We have dinner and drink multiple rounds of beer. Then I switch to rum and Coke, my favorite. We dance for hours. Since I have a Zomato Gold membership, I only have to pay for three of the six dishes of food we ordered! Yay!! The bill arrives at 1 a.m. — it's $112.30 with tip included, and I pay for N. and myself ($37.40). We get home and crash in bed by 2 a.m. A super fun evening, and the best part is I still have two days of weekend left! $37.40
Daily Total: $37.40

Day Three

9:40 a.m. — Oh f***! I have piano class in 20 minutes! I jump out of bed. It's a private class that I pay a bomb for, so I'm not going to let myself miss it. I text my teacher that I will be late, apologize, and rush through brushing my teeth, washing my face, and putting on clothes. I arrive 10 minutes late, but I'm glad I made it. Luckily, I'm not hungover from last night, and I get through my class. I finish at 11 and am back home by 11:30. My teacher has given me a ton of homework I need to practice and perfect until next class. Once home, I make myself a cheese omelette and a cappuccino. I throw a big piece of chocolate into my cappuccino so that once I get through my coffee there's a deliciously silky piece of molten chocolate waiting at the bottom. (What can I say, certain things make me happy!)
2 p.m. — Time for homemade lunch again. The cook has again done a marvelous job! We eat rotis with french beans and rice with daal, followed by mangoes. I absolutely LOVE mangoes — I could eat them three times a day! Unfortunately, mango season is only three months a year, so I have to eat up as much as I can now! I spend the rest of the afternoon practicing piano and watching TV with my father-in-law. (We surprisingly have very similar taste in television.)
5 p.m. — N. and I walk to a gourmet food market nearby. I love this place because every time I go I discover new spices and oils that I didn't know about. We buy paneer, dark chocolate, brown rice, and yogurt, and I pay with my food card. We follow that with multiple rounds of drinks in our neighborhood ($20), and chat about random stuff! Dinner is at 8:30 — same thing we had for lunch and more fresh mangoes. At 10, N. and I watch Seinfeld before calling it a night! $20
Daily Total: $20

Day Four

9 a.m. — It's Sunday! I get out of bed at my own slow pace (because why not?). In western society, a good day is when it's nice, sunny, and warm outside, but it's exactly the opposite where I live. Today it is cloudy and hence cool, and we are super glad about it. I water my 10 plants and make cappuccinos for us. The cook is super nice today and also makes us breakfast! It's an Indian dish called poha — made of flattened rice that is soaked for a while in water, drained, and cooked in oil, spices, and curry leaves, among other things. We watch TV after breakfast and I practice my piano pieces until lunchtime.
1 p.m. — The cook has made aloo paratha for lunch, which is one of my favorites! And she has made it very well! N. and I decide to go for a movie later this afternoon. I book tickets online and pay for the both of us. After lunch, N. and I spend time fooling around in our room and lie in bed chatting. $6.15
4 p.m. — Time to leave for the movie! We leave slightly early, since I want to go to a plant nursery first and buy a plant. I get myself a really cute one, and decide to pot it first thing tomorrow morning before work. We really enjoy the movie (a Hindi movie called Raazi). It's about how a 20-year-old woman agrees to marry into a Pakistani family to operate as a spy for India. It's a fantastic film and has me in tears multiple times. The best part is how they show the other side (Pakistani family) also doing their best for their country and motherland — it's just a matter of perspective. $3
8:30 p.m. — After the movie, we head back home and eat dinner with N.'s parents. We again have rice, daal, and rotis with cooked vegetables. A simple and delicious homemade meal. After dinner, we go for a walk for about 30 minutes. Then, I mentally prepare for Monday after having three days off work. Lights are out by 11 p.m.
Daily Total: $9.15

Day Five

8 a.m. — The usual routine — N. and I make breakfast and have it with our cappuccinos. I scroll through a hotel booking app to look for a nice place to book at a nearby hill station (Lonavla) for our anniversary. We recently went to Phi Phi Island in Thailand for 10 days, so we're looking at a relatively inexpensive anniversary celebration next month. I find the perfect place and book us a night for $95.20. Again, since N. pays for all the house bills, I always pay for everything else, including this hotel cost. Our arrangement works for the both of us. $95.20
10 a.m. — Get to the office and chat with colleagues about everyone's weekends. When I tell them that we booked a nearly $100 dollar hotel room because I wanted something cheap, they laugh. $100 goes a long way in India, so this isn't necessarily cheap. But I also make a lot more money than the average Indian, so I can afford it. YOLO!
1 p.m. — I spend most of the morning coaching a team on Agile, and then it's time for lunch. I'm meeting a friend who was my roommate before I got married. I used to learn salsa dancing from her, so she gives me all the juicy gossip that I miss now that I don't really go to salsa class anymore. I eat mac and cheese and she orders spring rolls and a small serving of pasta. We split the bill equally. $5.70
7 p.m. — The rest of the day is spent at work in meetings, answering emails, and chugging coffee. I drive home at around 7 p.m. and get gas on my way ($30.70). Then it's the usual routine — dinner (rotis, vegetables, and rice with daal), piano practice, 45-minute walk with N., and then most importantly, more mangoes! With each passing day, mango eating season nears its end, so I will stuff my face with mangoes while I can. I love them!!! Bed time at 11. $30.70
Daily Total: $131.60

Day Six

8:30 a.m. — Is it the weekend already? No? Okay I will go back to bed then. I wake up late and have no time to eat breakfast today. N. is already at his office by the time I wake up. This dude has no chill, lol! I shower, put on my sunscreen and eyeliner, change into presentable clothes, and am out the door by 9 a.m. Once I'm at the office, the morning flies past in a flurry of emails, meetings, and to-do list items.
12 p.m. — I am starving since I didn't have breakfast today. I eat at my desk while watching a My Sweet Digs episode. One of my favorite things to do is watch videos about pretty apartments in New York. I hope to visit one day. I get back to work, and then at around 4 p.m., I get myself a cappuccino from our office machine. I'm extremely tempted to go to a website called Nykaa that sells cosmetics, but I refrain, pat myself on the back, and get back to work.
8:30 p.m. — One downside of working with folks in the U.S. is late calls and meetings. I sometimes have meeting from 9 to 10 p.m. if something urgent comes up and that's the only meeting slot available. So today is not the worst I've seen. I was once on a call at 1 a.m.! I finish my meeting and drive back home. Since it's slightly after peak traffic hour, I'm home in 30 minutes. I immediately sit down for dinner with the family. We chat about our days, how my in-laws are doing health-wise, and their upcoming trip to visit their daughter in the U.K. Dinner is followed by our usual walk and an episode of Suits. Lights out by 11:30.
Daily Total: $0

Day Seven

7:30 a.m. — I'm up at 7:15, but spend the next 30 minutes scrolling through Facebook and Instagram. I curse myself for wasting time, and decide that it's a good time to delete my Facebook and Instagram apps, so I go ahead and quickly do that before I change my mind. I could have used the time for my piano practice, but I wasted it on a mindless scroll-fest! Arrghh!! I get ready, have muesli for breakfast, and leave for work at 9:15 a.m.
10:05 a.m. — Traffic is terrible, and it takes me a good 5o minutes to drive down to work. Today I drop N. off at his office, and we listen to an episode of My Favorite Murder. Ever since I started listening to podcasts in the car, I have found my commute to work a lot more enjoyable and even productive!
4 p.m. — Wow, it's 4 p.m. and I have not had lunch yet. The day was so jam-packed with work and meetings that I didn't even realize the time, so now I eat food I brought from home at my desk. Indian food made at home is based on combinations of different spices with different sets of vegetables (or seafood or chicken or eggs), so even though it might seem like I eat the same food everyday, I don't. It's very, very different based on how it is prepared.
6:30 p.m. — I'm done for the day, but N. isn't and I need to pick him up on the way home. He offers to take a cab, but I tell him I'll wait. While I wait, I remember this small family-owned business that sells a wide variety of nut butters. We really enjoy their cashew blueberry butter, so I order us a chocolate almond hazelnut butter. I literally drool as I leave the office and pick up N. I tell him about my purchase, and he looks forward to trying it out. We love experimenting with food! $7.69
11 p.m. — We reach home by 8 p.m. N. and I cook a simple pasta with tomato sauce and eat with my in-laws. We follow it up with chocolate ice cream, and then watch an episode of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Bedtime at 11 p.m.
Daily Total: $7.69
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