I first came across the term “Urban Poor” in a Buzzfeed article online about a month or so ago. At first I related it to the homeless poor or those living in the urban slums that dot the city. Because they are the “urban poor” aren’t they? Not according to the article. The article explained that the term meant early twenty somethings who live in metropolitan cities and who blow up whatever little savings they have on unnecessary luxuries, and such people fall into the “urban poor”. I quote “These are the metro-dwelling twentysomethings who’ve internalized the pressures surrounding them, and spend a majority of their salaries on keeping up the lifestyles and appearances that they believe are essential to earning those salaries.” You can read the full article here. It further went on to give examples of how in order to look “cool” and “in trend” some would skip meals in order to save up for a coffee at a five star hotel or how they would buy the latest gadgets just to give the impression that they are doing well in life. And because of all their spending beyond their means by the end of the month they are broke and were then termed poor.
Now, firstly that horrified me because I couldn’t believe that they were people my age, who lived in my city, who would starve themselves just to give a false impression of a certain type of lifestyle. And secondly, it irritated me that they would mock the actual urban poor by terming themselves as poor.
So let us get one thing straight, shall we?
Do you have a roof over your head? Do you have a warm meal in front of you? Do you have running water, electricity and heat? Do you have a gas connection? If your answer is a ‘Yes’ to all the above questions then wake up! You are not poor! Do you have a car? Do you have a fridge stocked up with whichever food you like? Do you live in a high profile apartment? If yes, then darling, you aren’t just well off you are rich! And just because you cannot afford a meal at the local five star with your colleagues or just because you have to cut down on your daily Starbucks ,that doesn’t make you poor and you have no right to term yourself as the “urban poor”. No, you are not broke because you have no money, you are broke because you choose to spend it in the wrong way. Think you are running out of cash? Then cut down on your unnecessary luxuries and save! There are institutions known as “Banks” and they help you save your money. Use them!
And it’s not just made up by the author of the article, I have heard quiet a few of my classmates say how poor they feel or how bad they feel because they cannot go eat at a certain place or dress in a certain way. How they would rather skip meals during lunch hour and save up so they can go to a fancy restaurant on the weekend, click pictures of the food, post it into social media with a ton of hashtags and give a false impression to the world. Choosing not to avail of what you are offered in order to take something better later on , which you cannot afford by the way, does not make you poor, it just makes you irresponsible. And stupid.
There is nothing wrong in eating food at the local udupi restaurant or eating at your office canteen or even bringing your own home made lunch to work. Neither is their anything wrong in taking the bus or train to work instead of driving your own luxury car. If you can afford all of this then that’s great! Go ahead! But if you cannot afford this upkeep then stop.
Truthfully speaking, nobody cares about what image you show them so do not choose to let yourself suffer by your own poor decision making skills. So do not consider yourself poor or unprivileged, because you choose where to spend your money. And to the actual urban poor of India there is never a choice. You are not the “Urban Poor” in fact why don’t you term yourself as the “Urban Privileged with bad decision making skills”?