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Decade decoder

Abhinav Anand

Like many of his contemporaries, Abhinav Anand, 28, had left Bihar for higher education. He graduated in hospitality management from the Pailan College of Management and Technology, Calcutta, in 2008 and then got a job with Taj Sats, an airline catering company, in Calcutta.

He later moved to New Delhi and worked for Costa Coffee, a British multinational coffeehouse chain. Then, unlike most of his peers, Abhinav decided to give it all up and return to the boondocks of Bihar, his “home and hearth”.

Last year, he used his savings and some money he had borrowed from relatives to set up a restaurant in Vaishali, a town about 110km north of Patna and part of the Buddhist pilgrimage circuit.

Abhi’s, an air-conditioned eatery on the town’s main road, aspires to attract the foreign tourist. The menu card boasts Chinese food and pastas along with the usual butter chicken and dal makhni. Abhinav helps out in the kitchen but leaves it to his chefs to think big.

Decade Decoder is an occasional election feature that seeks to bring out through a question-and-answer session whether lives have changed for the better or the worse in the past 10 years

  • Name: Abhinav Anand, 28
  • Profession: Owns a restaurant
  • Education: Degree in hospitality management
  • Family: Parents, younger brother and three married sisters
  • Home: Vaishali, 110km north of Patna

Do you earn more or less, compared with 2004?

I was in school in 2004. But if you ask me whether I earn more or less compared with 2008, when I finished my hospitality management course, I’ll say I would have earned more had I continued with my salaried job. But since I launched my business only last year, I shall have to be a bit patient for the returns to come in

Do you save more or less compared with 2004?

My family was well off in 2004, but there were issues that forced my father to sell off his auto parts store and become a contractor. Then (last year) I invested in the restaurant. So I can’t really compare…

What articles does your house now have that it did not in 2004?

A colour TV and a desktop

How did you travel then, and how do you travel now?

I have a two-wheeler now, a Honda scooty, which I didn’t earlier

Do you usually travel long distances by train or air? How did you travel in 2004?

By train, then and now

Have you travelled abroad?

No, but my brother soon will. (Points to younger brother Abhishek, 21, who has just finished his marine engineering course in Mumbai and is looking for a job)

Do you own a car?

No; maybe sometime soon

Where do you buy your grocery from — malls or the corner store?

There are no malls in Vaishali. We buy groceries from the local store

Do you shop round the year or only before festivals like the Puja, Chhath and Diwali? Has this changed over the years?

We have traditionally bought new clothes during Holi and Diwali. That tradition continues

Do you own an AC? Did you own one in 2004?

Not now, not then

Which school did you study in?

The local Sant Mahavir Teerthankar High School

Is there any difference between the food you can afford now and what you could 10 years ago?

It’s the same traditionalBihari fare: roti, rice, dal, subzee, fish, chicken and mutton. Only their prices have increased

Have you got an Aadhaar card?

No. I’ve been away and then I got busy with my business venture

Do you encounter more corruption or less in your daily life? From your personal experience, can you cite areas where you have been directly affected by corruption?

I have not experienced corruption so far. But one hears of it

What was the last movie you saw and when?

Last year. Ram Leela

That was quite some time ago. Doesn’t Vaishali have good theatres?

Yes, we have one or two. But I now prefer watching movies on my computer. I can get DVDs

Are you married?

No. I want to marry a local girl and settle down

When was the last time you ate out with your family?

We prefer eating at home.

In any case, after running a restaurant, you want to eat food at home

Do you have a cell phone? How old is it? Did you have one before you bought the current one?

My cellphone is quite old. It’s my first, but I don’t remember when I bought it

Are you on any social networking site?

Yes, Facebook

Do you go on holidays/pilgrimages? How often?

Once a year. My last vacation was in Shimla

Do you run out of money to buy food towards the end of the month?

No

Do you have more clothes now compared with 2004?

I used to own six to seven sets in 2004; I have a similar number today

What have been the biggest changes in your life since 2004?

Our family ran into some problems (he didn’t want to specify them) and my father had to sell off his business and a part of his land. It was a trying time but my parents ensured that we received a good education. My sisters got married. I got a professional degree that helped me make the decision to enter the restaurant business.

I wanted to return to the land where I have my family and friends. I lived in big cities— Calcutta and Delhi — but I didn’t enjoy the fast life there. I wanted to return to my roots

What’s been your biggest regret in the past 10 years?

No regrets so far

What’s been your biggest achievement in the past 10 years?

To have been able to open a restaurant and send out the message that if you have the will, you can do business in Bihar too

Are you happier or sadder compared with the recent past, and why?

Happier. I’m with my people, working among them.

Devdan Mitra