Everything is cheap, but no one has any change!

Everything is cheap in India, and I mean really cheap. A 20min taxi ride is around $4. Food is dirty cheap, except if it is imported. Even meat is cheap. Mutton kebabs were only about $1. Even 3G mobile data is cheap. One telecoms company advertises unlimited 3G data for Rs. 250, about $5! Anything that needs to be imported is more expensive, but not above what it is anywhere else.

Petrol is a similar price here as it is in Australia. The price is fixed and doesn’t fluctuate throughout the day or even the week, but when it does go up everyone freaks out. Cooking gas is also controlled, but that has nearly doubled recently. While you can buy a brand new mobile phone for about $20, a smart phone will cost basically the same as it is back home.

What I can’t work out is how the ATMs only give out Rs 500 / Rs 1000 notes and then no one anywhere ever has any change. EVER! It is nearly impossible to buy lunch for three people with a Rs 500 note ($9). Any transaction in India usually resorts to someone going to another shop to try and find change. Even larger shops that should have change freakout at a Rs 1000 note. In the airport in Delhi Mum bought a packet of biscuits with a Rs 1000 note just to get some change. It is also hard when being asked for small tips all the time. Rs 10 notes are reserved for this, I’d use coins, but haven’t seen any since I got here. I think I had some on the first day, but they went very quickly.

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