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We are like this only Part 2

by Swatee Jog

The people of Belgaum are definitely affluent, but shy away from splurging on in -your- face extravaganzas. A quick recce of our suburbs gives you an idea of their affluence with numerous homes flaunting designer ware and almost every bungalow sporting a fancy sedan. But the more conservative of the lot exists in huge numbers, who prefer to just ‘Be-Rich’ than display their wealth. They’d rather invest in land, property or gold than flash fist-sized rocks on their fingers or drive snazzy cars and flaunt dapper suits. That’s why we just have about 3-4 BMWs and a couple of Audis, Fortuners and Mercs in Belgaum. Earning and spending like crazy has still not become part of their primal instincts. That’s why we still don’t have a major designer boutique (Rujula’s, Biba are minors compare to Satya Paul or even Hi-design).

What sets them apart from their big city counterparts is the social set up here where the height of displaying your wealth is the number of people you invite at your daughter’s wedding, not the decor or trousseau that accompanied it. Wealth here is still measured in the amount of gold ornaments that the wife wears than her designer wear. You can still spot the richest of the citizens here walking down the lane for a pan or to the temple, and no one actually notices them.

The really wealthy here may not know their Moet from the Pinot Noirs or the Cheddar from the Parmesan, and Muesli or Cavier may seem alien to their taste buds, but they surely know what type of sugarcane or Jowar will fetch the highest price at the local APMC yard.

Don’t be surprised to see a turbaned and mustachioed old hawk idling around chewing tobacco as his womenfolk go about picking the best of Dharmavarams and Pochampallis or Paithanis and stepping in only to pay in thick wads of notes drawn from under his yellowy vest. You can spot them around Ambica(Khade Bazar Shahapur), Aradhana (Maruti Galli), Karthika (Ganpat Galli), etc. sitting cross legged on the pavement. Or the simple looking shop- keeper coming up with a palatial house for his family.

The electronic stores have a different tale though. They witnessed crazy crowds initially and only the ones that are situated in the heart of the city made hay with the bulk of the sales coming from cheap mobiles and discs but the Bravias and i-pod shuffles lying almost unsold and one should not forget Bapat Galli, where one can get a hands on almost any make at dirt cheap prices.(of course all China & Delhi made)

Women never had their clothes so cheap and are huffing around even in the mornings in their sneakers and zardosis while doing their morning walks. Every TV, sofa and grinder now has something to cover itself and every door is adorned with a mat. Bedspreads are getting a major overhaul and kids are munching on crunchy snacks like crazy.

After the initial madness ebbed out, all the mega stores in the city are sporting a deserted look on the weekdays. Many will contest that this is the trend even in big cities where the weekend sales more than makes up for the empty aisles during the weekdays. But some people are surely adept at drawing the best from what’s available. Belgaumites chose to visit these stores only for the heck of an experience and only bought what was truly at discounted rates or branded stuff and steered clear of tempting on – the-spur- of- the- moment purchases.

So the neighborhood kirana stores , who’ve refurbished themselves, are brimming again, what with harried housewives needing a kilo of sugar here and half a kilo of semolina there, with ten grams of cardamom and a pint of oil on offer at the grocery shop and no one seems to be complaining. Try asking the same at the mega store and the very stern ‘ mad or what’ look will flash on the salesman’s visage. But it has definitely uncorked the demon in the discount format and customers are more than happy.

Read the earlier Part 1 here

11 comments

  1. Congratulations to Swatee who has really done a nice and balanced analysis of "Belgavkars". The readers need to take it with a pinch of salt and leave it at that. There's no need to get hyper or over-analytical at the simple article.

    Swatee, may I suggest to write on the "Gallis" of Belgaum – each one of which is very individual and characteristic ! That would also throw a great deal of light on the history of Belgaum and the age old traditions and customs. Of course that's just a suggestion because i know the write-up involves lots of research and – maybe – some controversy too !!!

    Anyways…. Keep writing ! Cheers !! Good luck !!!

  2. So what is wrong in "Conservative Spending"?! I'm proud of those people who can still resist such temptations which are out there in the market. Believe me , its not easy!! I think we , in fact,need to teach this to our coming generations -"Buy only what you REALLY need". Take the good from the Western world not the bad (bad like the "Credit Card trap"- buying on Credit, which ends up in a "bubble" which someday HAS to "burst"). I'm not an economist to really talk so much about the changing market trends but I can simply say "Be a SMART consumer"!

  3. I dont think Belgaumkars need to ape big-city fellows. Belgaumkars have their own likes and dislikes. If they fell happy and contended with simple dresses… so be it. About fancy cars… the prices have gone up and maintenance is a big headache and walking is good both for your wallet and health.

  4. If dats just wat u have seen,come towards a so called reputed medical college at nehru nagar…and im makin no qualms about it….this once upon a time great college,which was infact built to cater to the needa of the downtrodden people of the region,has built an ‘nri’ college of 200 seats after turning into a deemed university dat has people from everywhere who ‘purchase’ seats in der!if dats inside d college,come out…and all through d length and breadth of the double road outside,you’l find that let alone ten rupees,u don have value for human life…people out der are busy wearing branded clothes,ignoring others,gone is pleasant belgaum feeling and warm people of belgaum dat lifted ur spirit wen u strolled out even widout spending big bucks as u do now just to ‘entertain’ yourself!
    Gone are d days where u cud fill ur tummy for 20rupees eating pav bhaji vada pav…now if u want both of dem and want dat widout falling sick d next day,u’d already know how much dat costs!our belgaum is filled wid outsiders….outsiders who we made feel at home….largely by dat ‘yaar mani gant hontada?’ attitude of ours and belgaumiites are all out of belgaum…working for money wid no rest n sleep n complaining about der team leaders nagging yet gulping der sorrows to earn money..fleeing to us to do ‘ms’ after B.E…which is not ms…its infact ‘MSc’ which is not even considered essential here and gives no credit whatsoever!
    Its become a fad to follow d american way of life…not d truly american,but d one polluted by people from…u guessed it….watch delhi belly n ull know ….or better visit some pu or engg college in d city….using words like bit**, **ck, di*k etc is d new cool….as is wearing ‘branded’ low waist jeans wid special care to show off ur ‘branded’ underwear’s elastic band!or ur bra strap popping under ur t shirt!Gone are d days of yore…where coming home to belgaum meant coming home to belgaum…now bangalore or delhi or belgaum…ah what d hell…its d same!god help this paradise survive atleast a decade more!

  5. gr8 job swatee, lot of ppl in bgm are so conservative in spending till date, leave about lavish leaving but just having fun on weekendsis a big task, we dont have much entertainment options as there is no demand,ppl are just spending their wealth only in real estate and increasing the prices like hell.

  6. Hi,
    we need to understand that a city like Belgaum still survives on agriculture and villages from around,we still dont have any big industries that employ thousands or BPOs,and just coming to a conclusion based on rush in branded outlets is not a good thing morever i believe branded stuff is not worth what they charge.
    a city infrastructure should support the kind of cars you have mentioned dont expect people to drive such hign end vehicles on such roads. all major car delears had their show rooms in Hubli, but were forced to open one in Belgaum because of demand in.
    and regarding the turbaned and mustachioed old hawk idling around chewing tobacco guys meet their grand children you will be surprised to see them wearing sporty clothes.

    regards.

  7. gr8 job swatee, lot of ppl in bgm are so conservative in spending till date, leave about lavish leaving but just having fun on weekendsis a big task, we dont have much entertainment options as there is no demand,ppl are just spending their wealth only in real estate and increasing the prices like hell.

  8. This article is almost diametrically opposite of what you have tried to convey in the 1st part! What are you trying to say? Please give a formal conclusion!!

    • Neeta, I have always emphasized the point about the conservative spending habits of the Belgaum people. Please refer the closing lines of Part 1! As I have already replied, I am not trying to be judgemental about our spending habits but only trying to understand what is happening!

  9. Nice and good article… Liked it a lot… the way of presentation of the fact is really good… Keep up the good work Swatee… Regards….

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