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Meet India's Middle-Class Multi-Millionaires

Ten stories of crazy rich Indians who think they’re poor.

by Aashna Sharma and Shamani Joshi
11 February 2019, 3:42am

Credit: Pexels

This article originally appeared on VICE India

Rumour has it that the Ambani wedding budget went up by an additional Rs 200 cr (it was the pocket change that fell out when Akash Ambani crashed that Aston Martin) simply because they had to buy all the 6,000 guests earplugs. What with the collective gasp of a nation of 1.3 billion people at the obscene display of wealth.

As Indians, we like to hide our wealth: inside walls, underneath our beds, in secret almirahs, at tax havens in the Panama… At the same time, we don’t want to seem too poor either. So we settle at a comfortable spot between these two, the rather inconspicuous ‘middle class.’

“I’m just a normal middle-class guy, yaar. I take the local train from Churchgate to my college every day!”

“But you wouldn’t have to if you just moved into your extra flat in Juhu.”

“I can’t move to Juhu, they still have auto-rickshaws on the streets there!”

If there’s one thing rich people in India love more than being rich, it’s pretending they are poor. This is, of course, complete bullshit because if everyone is middle class, no one’s middle class. Let’s make this clear: if your parents pay for your rent, food, and education and you generally manage to get by without starving—you’re more privileged than 90% of this country.

Here are 10 stories of poor rich kids, with all the self-awareness of KRK doing movie reviews. On a lighter note, have a laugh at their expense. We promise they can deal with it:

  1. “I was hanging out with this friend and she looked pretty sad to me. So I asked her what was up. She told me her family had hit a rough patch, financially, and they were going through some tough times: They’d had to cancel their annual international holiday that year, and had two family drivers now, instead of three. She was 100% serious and extremely dejected about this.”
  2. “I had a friend from Chandigarh who used to tell people her father was a farmer, except he has a custom-made Harley Davidson, holiday home in Kasauli and Shimla and is actually a landlord.”
  3. “My friend is the son of an MLA in Maharashtra and is quite loaded, but he literally never pays for things if he can help it. I’ve seen him harmlessly flirt with girls to get them to buy him food.”
  4. “This guy who comes to my gym was talking about how he was having a tough time fitting in at college. He’d been in a private school but was now in a State University for his graduation. According to him, everyone else spoke in Hindi all the time and he was seen as this elitist snob (which he was) so he couldn’t make any friends.”
  5. “One of my friends was studying in the UK and dating a guy from there. Although she was overflowing with cash, she would pretend she was as broke as her boyfriend because she felt he would judge her for being ‘too financially stable’ and she wanted to seem more relatable so he wouldn’t break up with her.”
  6. “When I went to Goa for my grad trip, all my friends wanted to do was sit on the beach and drink cheap beer instead of going to nice shacks and trying out new food and cocktails. So I was forced to spend my trip not going to nice places and just drinking from liquor store bottles because what if they expected me to cover for them if we went to more expensive places?”
  7. “In Chennai, I knew kids who pretended to be broke and ate street food because they thought it was more ‘edgy’. I know someone from here who studies at NYU and is rich enough to fly first class to Hawaii for spring break but pretends to be broke so he can share $2 memes to be a part of some pop culture notion of what a college kid is.”
  8. “My friend used to invite us all home to pre-booze when we went clubbing and she always served expensive premium alcohol. But then when we actually got to the club, she would start demanding that we pay for all her drinks, even if it was Old Monk or Smirnoff since she had already bought us drinks before and now she couldn’t ‘afford’ to pay at the club.”
  9. “My friend was convinced she was poor now because her family (of a total of four people) now had 2 drivers instead of 4.”
  10. “I had this senior in college from Delhi who would show off his expensive watches and iPhones and other stuff he had, but would never pay for dinners or drinks when we went out and would keep promising he would pay us back the next day, which he never did. He still owes us about 500 pounds from our time in London. When we confronted him about it, he got super pissed off and stopped talking to us and said, ‘I thought we were friends, do friends have to pay each other back?’”

Shamani Joshi is on Twitter and Instagram. Aashna Sharma is on Facebook.

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