Wednesday, November 18, 2009

for the benefit of my readers in the US - cost equivalence

This is just a blog about one person's mundane life in rural Sri Lanka along with the occasional exploit either within or outside this existence. I was asked to comment on the break-down I had as reported in the previous entry below, by giving approxmate values of expenses incurred just to be able to compare equivalent costs in the US. I am using the exchange rate of US$1 = Rs100 for ease.

As I noted earlier, my uncomfortable Tata Cab just stalled in the middle of the road in the heart of the Kurunegala town, on a very wet Sunday night, halfway from my journey from my Minneriya agricultural plot bringing produce to my Godagama Farm, the travelling distance being 220KM.

There was nothing anyone could do that night, so I hailed a 3 wheeler trishaw (tuk tuk) from a stand and got the driver first to take me around to scout for possible repair shops to take the vehicle in the morning, and then to find a place for me to stay the night. I gave the man $5 though he asked for $2 (one of the few times I actually had more than $1 with me on my return journey as I usually exhaust everything by Sunday, as Monday is sales day and hope to replenish by selling as much of the produce I bring.

He promised to come the next morning at 7.30am to take me to the vehicle and to take me to a repair shop to arrange to have the vehicle towed there. The room in the inn by the lake was US$10 and had an attached bathroom, no hot water, and the bed had a clean sheet and two pillows. The room had a fan but no covering sheet.

I skipped dinner as it was too late to find something and I was too stressed about the breakdown. The three wheeler guy came bang on 7.15am and I was surprised to see him as I thought he may not come. He took me to the vehicle where I cheked everything was OK and then went to a repair shop garage where we had to wait a while for it to open and the driver hung in there with me and once the owner arranged for a truck to come to the shop to pick me up, he left with no further payment for this morning's services as he was amply rewarded the previous night. A very unususal case of prepayment for services.

The coir rope cable was $1 to use to pull the cab, the towing charge to the shop was US$5. The new replacement clutch cost US$60 and the labor charge for the repair from 8.30 am to 1pm was US$10. I tipped the mechanic US$2

Food for the day was about $3 so for a total of US$95 I was back on the road after a 18hour delay and a day lost. The worse was the severe back pain on my arrival at the Godagama Farm due to the uncomfortable driving seat exacerbated by the stress of not knowing how long the forced layover would take.

In the US the towing charge would be covered by AAA as I was a member, but the tow truck driver would have been given a possible $20 tip. A motel 6 would have set back another $80 and basic food about $20. The clutch would have been about $30 and the labor charge nearer $300. No three wheeler or cab to get to an inn, so I would have had to sleep in the cab! So lets say a total nearer US$500.

So to compare costs as if that can be done rationally! It costs about 20% of that of the US while the current GNP per capita is about 8% of that of the US. So a cost factor of 250% higher in Sri Lanka in equivalent units.

Does this explanantion give some basis for comparison?

45 comments:

Anonymous said...

20 dollar tip for the AAA driver???

No wonder your business is bankrupt!

sbarrkum said...

Ranjit,

US Labor Charge 300/500=60%
SL Equipment cost 60/100=60%

I think thats the telling statistic. Those numbers are in the process of change, in many ways.
e.g. USD is in process of devaluation.

P.S. I have also written about 75% of my thoughts as why I think our SL small landholdings are a good for long term stability. Of Late, I am not a big fan of industrialization and concomitant urban growth. I'll get that out shortly.

re: Anonymous: In NY 20% tip is standard. A towing even a short distance in would cost at least USD 100 without AAA.

sbarrkum

Rajaratarala said...

Thanks Barr for the clarity. Anonymous does not know if he is in SL or US. As you rightly ascertained if one was towed in the US a $20 tip especially if the car was handled properly is worth it. After all my wheels there was a pretty stunning Jag.

Anonymous said...

Is the $20 a tip or a service charge? If it is a tip, defined by me as a payment in excess of the amount paid as a service charge, it seems to me that $20 is almost obscene.

Anonymous said...

There seems to be interest in this tip issue. Perhaps you should do your next blog entry about the practice and etiquitte of "tipping" in the SL countryside.

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