The price of an ice cream

As a young child in the 1960’s my grandparents used to take the grandkids driving through France to holiday in Spain. It was unusual for a working class family from Sheffield (grandad was a steelworker) to go on holiday abroad. What a great experience!

One of the things I noticed changing during these occasional visits over the years was the price of ice cream.

In Spain and England it was at a very low price and affordable on my pocket money. In France it was a little different. You know, more classy with prices to match. 🙂

The price of ice cream was of course significant in my world!

Over the years the prices gradually increased and merged. They became global and consistent. The price (and quality) changed dramatically.

In retrospect I was experiencing from a child’s world view both globalisation and the way products are now priced ie at a level that the ‘market can take.’ Price was increasingly determined not by the cost of raw materials plus the cost of production plus a profit. There was a dramatic shift towards the price-we-can-get-away with charging. There were key stages of this change, including; the increase in international travel especially holidays, higher disposal incomes amongst more people in society, middle class growth, the moving on from the effects of the war, decimalisation, sales taxes such as VAT and of course globalisation and not least internet sales .

In a few short years the cost of ice cream went way beyond my pocket money. Obviously my own disposable pocket money income didn’t keep pace.

Now, I’m here living in Indya age 61.

I often say that India is a good teacher it illustrates and illuminates many contemporary issues.

We’re seeing exactly the same process going on here. Ice cream was and still is cheap but now there’s a whole range of premium quality options so prices differ wildly. There is a massive surge growth of the middle classes so new demands and greater disposable income, India has always been the world leader of flexible pricing (the least local you look the higher the price you will pay). Now we’ve the introduction of GST (a General Service or Value added Tax) and the idiotic demonetisation which resulted in over 80% of currency becoming worthless overnight, so another reason for prices shooting upwards! So the price of ice cream, amongst other things goes up and up.

We often think that India is a cheap place. That’s both true and not. It can be incredibly cheap and shockingly expensive.

A case in point.


The big box of twenty tablets costs, …….. wait for it……. 1760 Rupees! (That’s one GB pound per tablet) I’ve managed to get a 15% discount and I’m not paying firangi (foreigner) prices. The minimum daily wage here is 250 Rs per day how is someone who is poor, supposed to manage? I can tell you as an exceedingly rich (not) foreigner it’s hard to handle! Imagine what it’s like for poor people, or Manjula for that matter if she didn’t have access to our resources!

So what’s the point?

So, I’m seeing the same process of prices increases at work, here in India over fifty years later.

Prices are becoming more consistent around the world, reflect what’s possible to charge rather than actual costs, are often increased when there’s a convenient policy change such as change in taxation. It also serves to accentuate and polarising difference, it reflecting the severe differences in levels of income and wealth, life and death experience in society.

its 2 am in the morning

It’s 2 am in the morning and I’ve just given the dog, Lucy a final walk of the day. In the shadows I noticed a mother and daughter, covered with shawls, scarves and carrying bags.Waiting tentatively for me to pass. Once I and the dog had passed by they continued on their journey.

Who are they? what are they doing?

As they continue to walk through the area I can hear the wild street dogs kicking off.  I guess that they are poor people just travelling through. It must be quite scary and daunting with barking dogs at most corners and now I’m back at home I hear the whistles in the distance of the policeman on their beat.

What must their life be like?

It makes me stop and reflect for a moment and think about those poor people and what I assume are very different and difficult lives.

I might live in India but as you might expect, in a middle class lifestyle and quite detached from the experience of many very poor people.

I recognise how important it is for me to not lose sight of the difficulties that people face and somehow to connect.

Holidays in India

In India, until recently, holidays were visits to one’s family or for religious pilgrimages. Some might say… not much of a holiday! But as with everything in India, it’s changing.

A sign of these times is the growth of the middle classes and the idea of holidays as ‘leisure’. Take the Kerala Backwaters as an example: ten years ago the vast majority of those hiring the converted rice barges for an overnight trip would be white tourists from abroad, nowadays the majority are middle-class Indians.


Manjula is a good example. She’s travelled a fair amount in India: Calcutta, lived in Mumbai, even out of the country to Nepal but it always related to visiting family, work or worship. Her first leisure holiday was only recently to Kannur Beach.


IMG_3848On holiday, she was like a young girl, almost shrieking (in her quieter, slightly reserved, dignified way) like a young child at the first experience of the waves tickling her toes.



P1030011We stayed with Rosi at Kannur Beach House with a good friend Frances and her daughter Alex. Many of our guests at Mysore Bed and Breakfast also stayed there.


Retail Therapy? actually buying sheets for the bed and breakfast




It’s been quite difficult to get Manjula to take a holiday but once she’d ‘bit the bullet’ and had a great time, within just a few weeks, we’re on the overnight train (first class, I’ll have you know) to Hampi.








I think her family thinks she’s won the the lottery, maybe she has!


We stayed at what is jokingly referred to as Israel, the more traveller/backpacker orientated place on the other side of the river from Hampi. Our recommendations include eating at Mango Tree and visiting Sagar for a breakfast or snack. Most of the accommodation across the river is much of a muchness but ‘Top Secret” has great food and wonderful views back over to Hampi.

We’ll post our and guest recommendations on our main web site at

Well, we both had a wonderful time and so there is no doubt that the holidays will continue, let’s see where our adventures take us!


Hopefully not falling into the Paddy field water again, as this muppet did in Hampi!