Spending like in the days of the pandemic
If there is one lesson that I can take from the COVID-19 situation, apart from appreciating good health, is my new learnt experience of being thrifty.
I live in a not-so affluent part of Dhaka city; an area mostly inhabited by tenants who decided to pay the hefty rent for a middle class simply for the comfort of being close to their offices, or for the ease of the children attending a nearby school. That's your basic 'middle class problem.'
Lucky, for us, we live in our own apartment and so even in the grim days of the pandemic, did not have to think about how the rent will be paid.
I have witnessed neighbours move to other parts of the city; every apartment building in the area now depressingly post 'to-let' notices. Some have even decided to welcome a 'paying guest' to share the burden of the rent, plus the service charges.
Although such an act was unthinkable for most in the prior to the global pandemic, even 'snooty landlords' are no longer objecting to the idea, fearing the loss of a good tenant.
I was fortunate enough to work from home for almost a year and some months via online, but that was just me. My wife on the other hand had to attend office even during the lockdown. But all in all, as a family, in the last one year, we have been able to save a little bit of money.
Most offices have re-opened. Schools are on the verge of commencing a new session, and life is expected to get to as normal a situation as possible. Traffic congestion is back, and is expected to get worse once the educational institutes open.
This will mean a hike in daily transportation costs. Add to this the daily expenditure for lunch and snacks. The occasional movie date, and the sporadic shopping.
For a large number of people from the middle class, pay cuts had been a pandemic reality. Many have lost their jobs. Many were using up whatever savings they had made over the years. But resources are drying up.
With every effort of everything getting back to normal, one fears additional costs to bear. Add to it the desire to breathe a little after a while, take that vacation, eat out at your favourite restaurant — all improbabilities during the pandemic.
Looking at the countless shopping centres in and around the cities, the once buzzing restaurants, one thing is clear — we have become collectively conscious of our spending.
For almost four centuries in a row, the world has gone through a global pandemic every hundred years. This has been the experience of our generation. It is too early to say whether we have survived the pandemic, but for many there seems to be light at the end of a dark tunnel.
With every passing day, the COVID-19 situation seems to improve; daily positivity rates are going down. One must however not bask in the success of successfully 'surviving' a pandemic. The fall out of COVID-19 is far from over, and in all probability, the need to be thrifty is still on.
Photo: LS Archive/ Sazzad Ibne Sayed