Under Two Dollars A Day

What unites Western Culture in all phases, tying in with the ambivalence that produces the continuity of change, is a series of demythologizing and consequent “losses of faith” – some gradual, some traumatic. Nothing is so characteristic of our traditions, with the result that we can say more truly of Western Culture than of almost anything else, plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. The Western World, in short, uses up myth at a tremendous rate and often has to borrow frantically from other cultures or to allow the cultural changes and oscillations that “time and chance”  will bring but which mythological societies will manage to dampen effectively.

~Herbert Schneidau, The Sacred Discontent

“Under Two Dollars A Day” is the first level of the spiritual journey I undertook in Western World, where I began diving deep into the human psyche to understand egonomics. Based in a megacity, known for its incessant love for arts, festivals, food, living lavish but economic and enjoying life to the edge, Montreal. A happy European slice of contemporary design in Quebec province of Canada. As Regis St Luis quoted on Lonely Planet “Montréalers embody joie de vivre. They eat well, throw great parties and are happy to share their city.” My early explorations told me, what the city of charm and joy secretly holds, is deep loneliness, escapes and the mythologized culture. There were more homeless people than homeless dogs. Coming from metro as New Delhi, witnessing homelessness and poverty, ignorance, and economic disproportionality was not new. What was new – culture, coldness and difference of two lives on either sides of Ritz-Carlton’s window.

While I walked past the homeless people outside Church Saint John’s, who were often dressed better than me, it stirred a range of emotions one morning as I was engrossed in nebulous thoughts. Uncertain future, my new Westernized Consumerism, and a blank chase that brought me 10,000 miles away from home leaving all my belongings far behind. What if I live where there is no certain tomorrow? What will I do when I have no money next morning to get me food? How far can I go in controlling my consumption? That evening I prepared a chart of my expenses, separated the fixed cost of leased apartment and education, and challenged myself to live rest of the year 2016, UNDER TWO DOLLARS A DAY.

November 13th to December 31st, 49 days of living under two dollars a day was a remarkable stretch. While living in Downtown, an average Montrealer must spend $60-$65/day to live a standard life. I challenged myself with $16, inclusive of my fixed housing expense. The following series of four blog posts will encompass the zeal, the love, the pain, the hardships, the sorrow, the vulnerability, the contempt, the treachery, the endeavour and hundreds of emotions during the course of this 49-day-long journey unleashing my soft-scared-dark-vulnerable side to a boundary never discovered before. Hope you will enjoy and appreciate the exploration and ignore the lack of eloquence.

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