Boo Hoo! India Is So Expensive!

I had one of the most ridiculous conversations with two yachties last week. The couple were complaining that India was really expensive. Incredulous I responded by arguing that food here is so cheap one can eat out at a restaurant for a quid.

“We can’t eat out because Jacques is allergic to people.”

Hmmm, I thought she said ‘people’ there for a minute. I think she meant spices or something. “OK, so you can’t eat out, so you go to the market and buy the local fruit and veg to cook on board, don’t you?”

“But buying food to cook on board is really pricey” they moaned.

What were they buying, gold-leafed lettuce?


After spending a few minutes on this topic they explained that Egypt was a much cheaper place to live. “In Hurghada I knew where all the best food shops were”, she said.

“I don’t understand”, I replied. “India is quite possibly the cheapest place for food I have ever been to in the world”.

“Orange juice is so expensive”, she continued.

“But India isn’t really famous for its orange juice”, I replied.

“Never mind orange juice, oranges cost a fortune”.

“Well it’s not really an orange-producing country. It’s much better at bananas”.

“But I don’t want to eat bananas all the time. And a packet of Corn Flakes is extortionate.”


“And the Gouda cheese they once sold in the supermarket” she continued. “That’s the only cheese Jacques would eat but they’ve stopped doing that now”.


“The internet here is so expensive too”, they both claimed.

“You are joking, aren’t you?” I scoffed. “It’s so cheap it’s unbelievable. It may not be 3G but it’s good enough and I’m a heavy internet user, I’m uploading photographs all the time” I explained.

“But Jacques likes to stream French radio all day”, she complained. Well that’s going to cost you a lot wherever you are! Why not do what we do and download podcasts? They had clearly forgotten that in Salalah it cost €3 for 48 hours internet connection. In Yemen you had to go to an internet cafe, and that was only if there wasn’t a power-cut. Forget Eritrea and Sudan. In Egypt we had a novelty connection in the marina that stayed online for 5 minutes at a time. I asked what they were paying and it transpired they were forking out around €20 a month. I pay €7.59 for nine months.


Look, my next blog entry might just be a massive rant about some marina price increases and the way in which the management is handling badly its customers’ expectations. If the marina pulls its finger out I might just spare you the pain, but that’s a separate rant altogether (as is the potential rant on our visa renewal escapades). However you won’t find me complaining about food that is so cheap I can make a one euro food shop last two days. If you want the luxuries you are used to whilst cruising the Med, the availability of milk and Cornflakes, cheese, sausages and expensive internet connection, you have to make a decision: pay through the nose for the luxury; adjust to the local diet, or get the hell out of Dodge. What are you doing in a sub-tropical continent like India if you want to ponce around on your boat all day eating croissants and Port Salut listening to live broadcasts of Monsier Leterme on Radyo Fréquence Eghezée?


It continued: these yachties had been complaining at the ‘rip off’ behaviour of the locals offering various services to us visiting yachties. It saddens me when European boat owners get arsey over the difference between a 5 rupee and a 10 rupee delivery fee on a litre of diesel (one rupee, by the way, is 0.01 euro cents). OK, you feel you are being ripped off, I understand the principle, so don’t pay it. Take it up with the nasty, thieving culprit directly, last seen stuffing his huge pockets with hundreds of your hard-earned euros. Don’t moan at me about it, I don’t want to hear you tell me how shit an entire country, nay, subcontinent is just because you got done out of a few quid and the food is too spicy.

Needless to say the yachties in question have since left India. Let’s hope they find their Continental Breakfast Nirvana in Asia.

Honestly? I’m glad these Moaning Myrtles have gone. Moan moan moan moan moan. Oh p!ss off and let the rest of us enjoy India for what it is.


I just thought I’d put this article into perspective by listing a few random items I paid for today. I’ll leave it up to you to decide if these people are justified in their whinging.

Internet connection for one month €1.65
½ kilo of tomatoes €0.58
Loaf sliced bread €0.35
3M marine rubbing compound (200g) €1.85
650ml bottle Kingfisher beer €0.84
Raw water pump seal replacement (+ labour & delivery) €6.58
Thali all-you-can-eat lunch, inc bottled water €1.35


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29 thoughts on “Boo Hoo! India Is So Expensive!”

  1. I live in India…my monthly internet connection is $25 with deadly slow download speeds. I pay nearly as much for produce as I did in the USA. Cheating me is attempted by nearly everyone I encounter. Eating out for a quid is a joke…unless you’re happy with crap thaalis which the Brits often mistake for home-cooked meals. I don’t whine about India…I have my own reasons for living here – but the food ain’t one of them. Ok, you don’t like listening to the whining…don’t boats move? Maybe they got frustrated with you because you’re so out of touch. India doesn’t even make the Top 10 Destination values in the world any more. They suffer from runaway inflation and maybe from the time you wrote this til now it increased another 15%. Us landlubbers don’t get to escape to a boat…we deal with reality from rents and rooms to praying the next cup of coffee might actually taste like coffee.

    1. Interesting. We’ve returned to the UK for the summer to see our families. I noticed that in the supermarket I could buy a pineapple — on special offer — for £1. In Ernakalum I could buy 7 pineapples for the same amount. A weekly shop for two is £50, compared to £25 in Ernakalum. The food we eat is indeed often only £1 for a curry — not some dodgy, cheap tourist cafe, but one of the many ‘hotels’ provided for the local working community in Ernakalum. All fresh. All good.
      Our internet connection costs 450 Rs (£6.50) for nine months for unlimited connection. Yes, it’s slow.
      Landlubbers or seafarers, it is cheaper to live in India than Europe. The tourist areas and hip city hot spots are expensive, but we don’t go there.
      Landlubbers or seafarers, there will always be whingers.

    2. Wow, sour grapes anyone?
      “I don’t whine about India”. You just did.
      “Slow download speeds”. Buy Tata 3G, I’m dloading at 800kbs.
      “Can’t buy a meal for a quid”. Yes you can, you are clearly looking in the wrong places.
      “Crap thalis”. I just told you, you’re eating in the wrong places.
      “I pay nearly as much for produce at I did in the US”. Utter tosh. If you are then no wonder you complain of being cheated. They’re not just cheating you, they’re robbing you blind! I suggest you get yourself down to the market.
      “Out of touch”. With what, precisely?
      “India doesn’t even make the Top 10 Destination values in the world”. What does this mean? Even if it were true, is that your criteria for living here? Move then, if it’s so expensive.
      “Praying the next cup of coffee might actually taste like coffee”. Missing Starbucks, are we? Try some Darjeeling tea instead.
      “Us landlubbers don’t get to escape to a boat”. That is YOUR choice. Our choice IS to escape on a boat.

      We’ll keep this comment up as a reminder of why people don’t deserve to benefit from the pleasures of living in this great country.

  2. Great comments. I was back in England for one month and spent the equivalent of one years living in India and not quite the same smiling faces!! I find India fasinating, friendly and very affordable.

  3. Would gladly trade them. Where we are here in the States, an entree at the local Indian Restaurant would cost $18 (approx €14) without a beverage, tip, etc…

    Broadband Internet = $40/mo (€31) (but you can get dial-up for $15 yippee!)

    A grocery run for 2 people for the week without shopping for bargains might cost $50-$100 (approx. €39-78).

    They bring the phrase “Penny-wise, pound-foolish” to mind.

  4. I agree with all your comments Jamie. Great article!
    I’ve met folk complaining about that 10cents to the local, then hand over a wad of notes in the local currency to a fellow yachtie as they leave town!!
    Maybe they were justified in their whinging as it seems to have reinforced our individual lessons we have all learned about our ‘rich’ colonial heritage emancipation! It is not for us to judge…….

  5. Oh. My. God. That made me laugh aloud. All I can say is I am glad I was not there to witness this exchange. Don’t think I could have been as rational as you, Jamie. Thank Richard Dawkins they’ll have gone by the time I get back. 😉

  6. what can i say, i’m here benefiting from ‘le trop cher Inde’. can’t wait to go back to the uk next week to save some money….not
    love the photos! i’m still giggling.

  7. I once had a 2 course meal with half a bottle of wine in Reykjavik for the same price as 2 week’s shopping from Waitrose here in the UK – now that was expensive, I think they need to spend a few weeks back in Europe for a while.

  8. Kerala is the most fantastic place to visit. Food exquisite – restaurants will only serve what they buy in for that day – so food is always fresh and delicious. We once ate like kings for 50p each. Go where the locals eat – no menus – so just point to another diners plates. Brilliant. Kerala – friendly happy people. Not so impressed with Cochin. Kollam and Kovalam and Trivandrum the places to go. Trains inexpensive and the way to travel. Auto rickshaws a must. Perhaps those in expensive yachts can learn a lot from the indians happy lifestyle and pay into the local ecomomy.

    1. Thanks all for your replies, I’m glad I’m not alone on this matter. FYI, I bought two pineapples today for 40 rupees (€0.68), and that was from the supermarket. Fiona of Roam II has been picking them up at the market for 10 rupees. Yes, you read that correct. That’s 17 euro cents for a pineapple!

  9. 84 cents for a large beer…. outrageous! Its much cheaper in France! I do agree with you Jamie, there is nothing worse than listening to people whining on about things…. unless its listening to people telling you about people whining on about things – (just joking). How long, though, can you keep that indignant look on your face before the thought of what you are doing and where you are creeps into your head and the broad smile comes back… not more than 2 minutes I am betting. love to all, Jill, Gary and Ed

  10. Well said! If you want to explore the world you have to take part not carry on as if you are still at home otherwise why leave? One of the best things about sailing into a new port or new country is trying out the local stuff whether its food, services or entertainment. And whilst you are enjoying yourself contribute to the local economy not some large corporation on the other side of the world. I find cornflakes boring anyway 🙂

  11. Expecting to have it “your way” when a guest in another country will almost always piss off the locals.
    Sharing this opinion with others highlights a naïve perspective for a world traveler.

  12. I’m pretty sure the kids on the slums might tend to agree……..but if you’re lucky enough to have the time, money and opportunity to be sailing for even a short time – and have such freedom, it might be a good idea to consider the fact that you may…..just may…be rich in many ways?!!! I think such thoughts may well have passed them by?

  13. I’d be interested in how much their boat costs, that and their Euro based house and perhaps the 4 x4 in dry storage.
    I’m sure traveling the world in a boat has untold hidden costs that us townies have no idea about, it’s nice however that your yachties have the option of selling up or sailing home whereas perhaps the same doesn’t apply to the Indian guy selling cornflakes for a 20 cent profit.

    1. Got it in one, Phil. I’d always considered the people in question as being quite sweet, to the point of being a bit naive. I really do try my best to not judge, but that kind of naivety is verging on idiocy. It just has me muttering under my breath “don’t deserve to be on a boat”, or words to that effect.

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