Satire Shot

The essential guide to Urban Poverty Syndrome

Our expert explains the symptoms. They aren't pretty.

May 7, 2016. One of urban India’s worst kept secrets is out – a silent nameless epidemic is ravaging our youth. A generation of underfed and well-dressed youngsters is on the loose, fuelled by hunger. Literally and otherwise. The silent nameless epidemic has a name now. Based on an extensive study by the Anecdotal Survey of India, this malaise has been identified as the Urban Poor Syndrome.

Using an extensive sample size of four anecdotes, this survey describes UPS succinctly and scientifically as an affliction wherein “objectively and relative to a vast majority of Indians, they aren’t ‘poor’ at all. But they’re certainly hungry and broke a lot. These are the metro-dwelling twentysomethings who’ve internalised the pressures surrounding them, and spend a majority of their salaries on keeping up the lifestyles and appearances that they believe are essential to earning those salaries.”

The signs of UPS have been staring at us in the face for quite some time – but as the saying goes, if it ain’t a Twitter trend, it ain’t worth noticing. I feel that it is crucial that I simplify the data presented to us by the survey in a form that the urban poor would be most comfortable with. The listicle. Ideally, I should throw in a few GIFs too – GIFs traditionally validate the infinite wisdom found in assorted listicles. But I digress. Here we go.

Six signs that you or someone you know is in the throes of UPS or better still: The girl at LPQ orders a sandwich. What happens next will make your heart wrench.

If you know a millennial, these are the signs you should watch out for:

  1. The millennial has started bringing a lunch box from home. It is nutritious and good food – but clearly the facade of prosperity is crumbling. It is a distress call.
  2. The millennial starts drinking chai from the tapri on the street. This is a dead giveaway. Who does that? Actually everyone in my workplace but shush. 
  3. The millennial stays back in office to use free WiFi to watch GOT. A prudent thing to do normally, but UPS has now got him firmly in its clutches.
  4. The millennial gets into a local train – like millions of regular commuters in this city. But this is where he or she has clearly reached the end of his tether.
  5. The millennial drinks tap water – even though the office has free mineral water. But now poverty is a mindset.
  6. The millennial does not go to watch Captain America – Civil War but instead becomes the only one at a massively discounted show of YoYo Honey Singh’s Zorawar. That way he plays out a fantasy where the air- conditioned hall with no occupants is his living room. This is where UPS is now totally deep set – and the lines between reality and fantasy blur. This is the point from which there is no going back. 

If you know someone with any three of these signs, you have a full blown case of UPS on your hands. I have discovered rather disturbingly that the young workforce I routinely bully is clearly all afflicted. I have now taken to displaying my humane side at work – I accost and stalk them, wait at office corners and insist on pouring coffee down their consolidated gullets. I stopped a young junior from eating a protein bar for lunch in spite of him insisting that he wasn’t poor, just unhealthy. I know better now.

But still there are signs which confuse me – for instance, another colleague regularly car pools or shares an Ola with others. I suspect now she has borderline UPS and I will counsel her on that.

To conclude, UPS is a firm reality of our times. As concerned citizens, besides the free advice that we can dole out to the less privileged, we must all invest in a stack of Starbucks discount coupons and dole that out as well. Poverty is not the urchin at the streetlight rubbing his nose at the car window – it is the younger well-heeled colleague squashing his metaphorical nose against your cubicle wall.

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Following a mountaineer as he reaches the summit of Mount Everest

Accounts from Vikas Dimri’s second attempt reveal the immense fortitude and strength needed to summit the Everest.

Vikas Dimri made a huge attempt last year to climb the Mount Everest. Fate had other plans. Thwarted by unfavourable weather at the last minute, he came so close and yet not close enough to say he was at the top. But that did not deter him. Vikas is back on the Everest trail now, and this time he’s sharing his experiences at every leg of the journey.

The Everest journey began from the Lukla airport, known for its dicey landing conditions. It reminded him of the failed expedition, but he still moved on to Namche Bazaar - the staging point for Everest expeditions - with a positive mind. Vikas let the wisdom of the mountains guide him as he battled doubt and memories of the previous expedition. In his words, the Everest taught him that, “To conquer our personal Everest, we need to drop all our unnecessary baggage, be it physical or mental or even emotional”.

Vikas used a ‘descent for ascent’ approach to acclimatise. In this approach, mountaineers gain altitude during the day, but descend to catch some sleep. Acclimatising to such high altitudes is crucial as the lack of adequate oxygen can cause dizziness, nausea, headache and even muscle death. As Vikas prepared to scale the riskiest part of the climb - the unstable and continuously melting Khumbhu ice fall - he pondered over his journey so far.

His brother’s diagnosis of a heart condition in his youth was a wakeup call for the rather sedentary Vikas, and that is when he started focusing on his health more. For the first time in his life, he began to appreciate the power of nutrition and experimented with different diets and supplements for their health benefits. His quest for better health also motivated him to take up hiking, marathon running, squash and, eventually, a summit of the Everest.

Back in the Himalayas, after a string of sleepless nights, Vikas and his team ascended to Camp 2 (6,500m) as planned, and then descended to Base Camp for the basic luxuries - hot shower, hot lunch and essential supplements. Back up at Camp 2, the weather played spoiler again as a jet stream - a fast-flowing, narrow air current - moved right over the mountain. Wisdom from the mountains helped Vikas maintain perspective as they were required to descend 15km to Pheriche Valley. He accepted that “strength lies not merely in chasing the big dream, but also in...accepting that things could go wrong.”

At Camp 4 (8,000m), famously known as the death zone, Vikas caught a clear glimpse of the summit – his dream standing rather tall in front of him.

It was the 18th of May 2018 and Vikas finally reached the top. The top of his Everest…the top of Mount Everest!

Watch the video below to see actual moments from Vikas’ climb.


Vikas credits his strength to dedication, exercise and a healthy diet. He credits dietary supplements for helping him sustain himself in the inhuman conditions on Mount Everest. On heights like these where the oxygen supply drops to 1/3rd the levels on the ground, the body requires 3 times the regular blood volume to pump the requisite amount of oxygen. He, thus, doesn’t embark on an expedition without double checking his supplements and uses Livogen as an aid to maintain adequate amounts of iron in his blood.

Livogen is proud to have supported Vikas Dimri on his ambitious quest and salutes his spirit. To read more about the benefits of iron, see here. To read Vikas Dimri’s account of his expedition, click here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Livogen and not by the Scroll editorial team.