Saturday, April 2, 2005


Earn more, spend a lot more. Work hard, party harder. This is the hot number the young are rocking to. Bitten by the spending bug, the focused and fun-loving Gen-X swears by its life kit, which includes splashing out on body workshops, eating out and acquiring the latest gizmos. Sukhdeep Kaur reports.

Youngsters speeding away in swanky cars with blaring music or dancing away at clubs and discotheques into the wee hours…the present generation is surely high on cash and aish (fun). The former is no prerequisite for the latter as going Dutch is the latest fad in the partying genre.

A casual chat and this tall, not dark, but effortlessly handsome guy comes across as an archetype of the Generation X. Good money, a heady combination of brawn and brains and a go-getter attitude with oodles of confidence to boot.

Anil Rana (26) is a regular at a premium gym and can be seen pumping iron with unfailing punctuality. He puts the figure he spends on health and fitness to about 30 per cent of his monthly expenses. What other youngsters loosen their purse strings on may vary but fitness ranks high on the spending list of most of us, he claims.

His friend, Shweta, who has recently left her call-centre job to take up a course at ICFAI Hyderabad, also chips in to say that gyms are equally popular with girls. One can’t help but agree, as many a young maiden can be seen sweating it out with equal vigour in various fitness clubs. "But we lag behind guys when it comes to shelling out cash on many other things," this 22-year-old is quick to add. No secret this, as it is increasingly believed that gossip and splurging are no more the sole prerogatives of women, men do it better and how!

While the debate on which sex spends more remains inconclusive, certain spending areas are common to both. For this "work hard, party harder" generation, taking time off to unwind from their gruelling work schedules of late-night shifts, travelling, meeting deadlines is as important as taking home hefty pay packets.

"Undoubtedly, parties, clubs and movies are a huge drain on our hard-earned money", says Rana, who has spent considerable time in Gurgaon, where, he feels the new "youth culture" of India is at its visible best. For most of the high-earning youngsters, it is juggling tough working hours with nightlong partying. Call centres, banks, multi-national companies, media…almost every big player in the corporate world is a part of this cultural churning. "They pay you well and make sure you get enough of the party circuit," he adds.

What youngsters spend on makes for an interesting and intriguing list. Gaurav (25), for example, has an enviable collection of DVDs and VCDs of Korean, Chinese and Japanese flicks. A great singer, he also boasts of an assortment of music albums. Most of these prized possessions are secured in his laptop, his best buddy. Back to India after completing Master’s in International Marketing Management from the University of Leeds, UK, he, too, subscribes to the fitness mantra of his peer group.

"But, I frequent the gym to channel my energy and not for a fab body," he begs to differ. He smiles when asked where else did his money go. "Not on the usual stuff others my age do," he candidly admits. So is it not on peers, branded clothing, cars or gadgets? "No, mostly on my first love – music. Most of my free time is spent collecting movie and music videos, catching up with friends or simply browsing the Net. I have also put together a book on famous quotes on management," he adds. As you flip through the pages of his book, the futility of trying to put this generation into definite slots dawns upon you. "Squandering, reckless party lovers with no moral frills" is not a description most of them fit into. The attributes of creativity, intellect and focus on future plans are equally well ingrained in them.

When it comes to being bitten by the spending bug, college girls merit a place of distinction. They are tops in anything and everything that has to do with fashion, eating out, movies… you name it,
they love it.

While what most fashionable teenagers spend on is anybody’s guess, those who beautifully tread the fine line between fun and books are also not far behind when it comes to having a great time.

Divya, a second year sociology (hons) student of GCG-11, is a reserved, charming and scholarly girl who comes across as one who would know little about what to do with her pocket money …only till she warms up to you and allows you a glimpse of her expense-metre. What this 19-year-old saves on fashion accessories goes into buying books, audio cassettes, shoes, an occasional trip to the beauty salon, eating out in fast food joints or in the college canteen and, given her scholarly background, on Xerox copies of class notes. Also a gym regular, she loves to pamper herself with a steam bath and likes attending Shiamak Dawar’s dance sessions, salsa classes and has now found her new love in Kathak.

Fitness mania: Youngsters are spending a packet on their health
Fitness mania: Youngsters are spending a packet on their health.

Her buddies — Imreet, Aarohi, Gunja, Anuradha and Manju — make one big fun group ready to have a blast anytime. Aarohi is Miss Studious blessed with creative skills, Impreet is a wannabe model with all the trappings of one waiting to set the ramp on fire, Anuradha is Miss Vivacious and Gunja is "somewhat serious". What these girls have in common is the desire to live life to the fullest. They pool in money for their outings and indulge each other with cuddly gifts. This generation no doubt believes in spending their way to having a great time.

Be it cyber cafes, multiplexes or an idyllic Barista or Café Coffee Day, today’s youngsters do not miss their fill from the recreation cup. All such hangouts are thriving on this cash-rich, compulsive spending generation. The list is endless…from branded sunglasses, hi-fi woofer systems and amplifiers in cars to I-pods, guys never seem to have enough of fast-changing electronic gadgets — cellphones being one of them.

Cutting across all economic and social lines, a mobile phone is one accessory no urban youth is seen without. They are no more flaunted as style statements but figure in the "must-have" list of even high school students. Some youngsters go for a new handset every three months. According to Shweta, "For guys, car and bike accessories also rank high in the spending realm."

Spending habits change with time, says Abhishek Thakur, a 24-year-old young businessman. "When you are trying to gain a foothold in a business or profession, especially at a new place, rent, bills and telephone and travelling expenses take centre-stage. There is little time and inclination to spend elsewhere," adds Thakur, who in his college days was into sports and gym and loved to hang out with friends or catch a latest blockbuster at a multiplex.

According to Rana, it helps professionally if you have a good personality. No wonder then that another major spending area, according to him, is clothes and accessories. Then there is the ever-rising expenditure on petrol. If not a car, most students manage to have a bike or scooter by the time they reach college or high school, adds Thakur.

Spending on girlfriends is no more seen as chivalrous as girls nowadays earn the same if not more, many college students averred. Showbiz continues to be the biggest draw for youngsters as beauty salons and grooming courses are witnessing brisk business.

The growing popularity of talent hunt shows means boom time for those in the business of selling dreams and youngsters are willing to put all they have to make it big in the glamour world.

The classic dilemma, which Karl Marx had put at the heart of all economic problems – where to spend, how to spend and how much to spend – is faced by today’s youth.

The young spenders are being bombarded with a number of options. With the market offering a mind-boggling variety of consumer goods, youngsters are taking their pick of the best.

This ‘take-me-as-I-am’ breed nonchalantly pleads ignorance about masterpieces in fiction and non-fiction, though most of them have had their share of Nancy Drews, Harry Potters and Mills and Boon. It’s Internet, mobile phones and cineplexes for them while art, theatre and culture are interests they would love to indulge in but not if they have to dig into their pockets.

"Most youngsters are wise enough to tackle their urge to splurge. Money is just a means to see life in all its vibrant hues," Thakur sums it up.

— Photos by Pradeep Tewari