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Things Used to Be so Much Cheaper Back in the Day

Bumblebee Dec 12.2012 09:52 Comments (1) + Add your comment
Tags: inflation Category:My Blogs
Lately, I’ve caught myself sounding like an elder from my hometown: “Back in my day a loaf of bread only cost 10 pence.” All of us who’ve lived in China for a couple of years are acutely aware of the inflation and ensuing price hikes that have been reaping havoc with the price tags of nearly everything (15 kuai for a bowl of lamian, are you for real!?!). And while I’ve come to accept that that no amount of protestation will bring down the price of my cockroach ridden flat, I can’t help but empathise with those wise souls who spend hours of their daily conversation time lamenting about the cheapness of the past.


This became clear to me over the weekend when I met with a friend who was visiting Beijing from the United States. She’d last been in Beijing five years ago before the days when landlords suddenly increased their rent by 40% in one go.We ordered a basket of steamed xiaolongbao which cost 7 kuai. “What, 7 kuai?!” She exclaimed with a quizzical expression. At first I couldn’t tell if it was amazement at the cheapness of the meal or something else entirely. “These cost 3.5 kuai back in the day! How is it that they now cost 7?!” After about 3 seconds, during which time I digested the information, I realised that her outrage was entirely justified, even if the meal did only cost the equivalent of 70 pence. If back in my home town, a pizza or sandwich doubled in price over the course of five years and salaries stayed the same, there’d be peoplepicketing outside both the restaurant and the parliament – hell, there’dprobably be a permanent brigade of campers set up outside ala OccupyWallstreet. Not so in China, or at least on the surface. Even I, as my friendmade me realise, accepted the 7 kuai gracefully– until I actually stopped tothink about it for a second, that is.


Andso our conversation went from “how much easier it is to live in a country where google actually works” to a long winding “Do you remember how cheap everything in China was back in the day?”  By comparing the price of xiaolongbao five years ago and now, I not only became more aware of inflation’s sneaky effects on my wallet, but I learned about the country at large. Why is this country taking price increases so graciously or is someone doing a very good job at keeping the grievances from public view (or am I just living in an elaborate bubble that shields me from the every day realities here)? Either way, the point is: comparing prices opens up a lot of questions and things to ponder about. Maybe there’s more to old people’s nostalgic rants after all!  

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1 Comments ( Add your comment )


Yeah , U R right!

Nov 05, 2013 17:36

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