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
Tapan Das in his cyber café in Kalyani. Picture by Ranjit Sarkar
A decade ago, Tapan Das of Kalyani converted his television repairing shop into a cyber café and named it Eureka. A year later in 2005, he invested whatever savings he had to open a BSNL Shoppe in his 300sqft cyber café.
The 54-year-old businessman, who got four of his sisters married, could not set up his own family. He said he did not get time.
Tapan has been shouldering the responsibility of his ailing mother in the two-storey building he calls home in B Block of Kalyani.
Name: Tapan Das
Profession: Owner of a cyber café and BSNL shoppe, and a car rental service
Education: Higher Secondary
Family: Lives with his ailing mother and a widow sister who joined recently
Place: Kalyani, Nadia
Do you earn more or less compared to 2004?
In 2004, I used to earn Rs 15,000 a month. Now, it is much more.
Do you save more or less compared to 2004?
A decade ago, I used to save money every month. I opened a number of fixed deposits. But now, though my income is more, saving is difficult because of the rise in prices of almost every commodity.
What things does your house now have that it did not have in 2004?
Not much change since 2004, except for the new LCD television set
How did you travel then, how do you travel now?
This also has remained quite the same. Locally, I move around in my bike. I use my car to go to other cities and towns, and the train for long-distance travel.
Do you usually travel by train (class) or air? How did you travel in 2004?
I usually take the train to travel long distances
Do you own a car? Model? Did you own one in 2004? Model?
In 2004, I bought a Tata Indica DLX. I replaced it six years later with an upgraded version
Where do you buy your grocery from, malls or the corner store? Were there any malls/ stores like Spencers in 2004?
I purchase my monthly grocery from the local market as I did 10 years ago. At that time, there was no shop like Spencers, now there are.
Do you shop round the year or only before Puja, Diwali etc? Has this changed over the years?
It is mainly during the festival time.
Do you own an AC? Did you own one in 2004?
I never had an AC at home. I have one in my cyber café though
Do your children go to school?
I did not marry
Is there any difference in the food you can afford now and what you could 10 years ago?
This has seen a major change. Food habits have changed, so have the items we take for lunch and dinner. We have become health conscious and food has become costlier
Have you got an Aadhaar card? Why? How does it help?
I am yet to get an Aadhar card
Do you encounter more corruption or less in your daily life?
No, I never had to encounter corrupt officials. My friends have had to.
What was the last movie you have seen and when?
I cannot remember when I watched a movie the last time in a theatre hall
When was the last time you ate outside the home with your family?
About three years ago, may be
Do you have a cellphone? How old is it? Did you have one before you bought the current one?
Yes, I have been using cell phone for past 15 years. My current handset is three years old
What do you do with the cellphone?
I mainly use my cellphone to converse with fellow businessmen
Do you go on holidays/ pilgrimages? How often?
My business does not allow that. However, I visit the Kali temple either in Dakshineswar or Tarapith at least once a month.
Do you run out of money to buy food towards the end of the month? What do you do then?
Yes, sometimes. Then, I borrow money from my friends.
Do you have more or less pairs of clothes compared to 2004?
It’s almost the same. In 2004, I had about six pairs. Now also, the same number
Describe the biggest change in your life since 2004.
Opening the BSLN Shoppe is the biggest change in the past 10 years. It has changed my financial condition
What is your biggest regret in the past 10 years?
At the professional front, I have no regrets. I miss my father at times
What is your biggest achievement in the past 10 years?
The BSNL Shoppe.
Are you happier or sadder now? Why?
I am happier. Financially, I am more stable. My business is doing well.