The 46-Rupee Meal

Ten years ago, when the world was a nicer place to live in, I was just getting out of high school, full of misdirected ambitions of making a difference in the world. Of the many things that were ideal back then, I liked the fact that I could have a hearty meal for less than ten rupees. That’s about 5 cents. Maybe not a ‘hearty’ meal, but certainly a couple of idlis and a vada for eight rupees. For the uninitiated, an idli is a white colored, steamed rice cake, about the size and shape of a BlackBerry Curve and a vada is a brown colored doughnut-shaped (and sized), deep-fried eatable that goes perfectly well with an idli. Ten years ago, a pair of idlis and a vada together used to cost eight rupees.

Today, ten years later, I realized that there has been a 475% increase in the cost of the same meal. A pair of idlis and a vada, today, costs 46 rupees.

Idli Vada
Two Idlis and a Vada - The 46-Rupee Meal

That’s still less than a dollar, but for someone who’s spent the better part of his life here in India, that’s daylight robbery. The strangest part of the entire experience today over lunch was not that I was fretting about the astronomical increase in the rate, but the equally enormous decrease in the quantity and taste.

The sizes of the idlis and vadas have reduced so much that its hard to spot them when you put them on a plate. You have to have a pair of really good binoculars to identify where they are and make sure that your spoon hits the mark. No, I’m exaggerating, of course, but you get the idea. And the taste, well, I have eaten pieces of cardboard (for free) that have been tastier.

I hate to call this inflation, because the term ‘inflation’ has a definition, a universally-accepted identity. I would call this phenomenon a gross negligence on the part of the Indian public, who have allowed this kind of injustice to penetrate every aspect of their lives. Our lives. Commonplace examples – a tennis ball that used to cost ten rupees now costs thirty. A piece of chewing gum that was half a rupee is now three rupees. A toothbrush that used to cost around four to five rupees is now thirty-five.

How I wish I were living in the stone ages, where all I had to worry about was the next critter I caught for dinner and the next female I slept with. If wishes were horses, I’d be a very rich, sexually-gratified stable boy.

The 46-Rupee Meal

Hunger Strike!

hunger strikeWe Indians have a peculiarly unique way of demanding justice. We stop eating and call a press conference.

It all started with the great Mahatma Gandhi, who went on a hunger strike to oppose the tyranny of the British Raj, back in the 1930s and 1940s. This habit has not died after we got our independence. Every time the government does something that someone doesn’t approve of, a hunger strike is called along with a press conference.

Recently, Anna Hazare did it to oppose corruption in the government. He was hailed as the present Mahatma and the press jumped to draw parallels with him and the original Mahatma. They called it the new Freedom Struggle. And more recently, a guy who made his living doing yoga, Baba Ramdev, went on a hunger strike and no one knows the reason why. I’m sure he gave a laundry list of reasons for doing what he did, but no one really understood them.

It’s like an infectious disease here in India. If one person goes on a hunger strike, it spreads like a virus on heat and before you know it, your neighbor’s on a hunger strike against the local corporation office demanding better roads and clean water. It’s about time I joined in the fun.

I am going on a hunger strike from today onwards to oppose hunger strikes all over. I will eat obscene amounts of food and go on a strike against hunger until everyone stops their respective hunger strikes and eradicates the country of this ridiculous disease.

My diet, during this hunger strike consists of the following:

Breakfast: 12 eggs, 24 slices of bread, 2 pints of orange juice and a quart of coffee
Lunch: 5 helpings of rice, dal and a 12 rotis with vegetables
Dinner: 16 helpings of rice, dal, 20 few rotis, along with some sweets for dessert

I vow to not go hungry again until my objective is fulfilled. This hunger strike will prove to the whole country that I am quite serious. I will not end this hunger strike until all hunger strikes have ended in this country.

I am ready for my title now. I prefer something cool, and nothing with the word “Mahatma” in it. That’s become cliched.

Hunger Strike!

The Funny Guy! :)

I have recently been awarded the dubious distinction of being Mr. Funny Guy by my friends. I should be honored, and to an extent, I am. How this title came about and why I am not really satisfied with it will be apparent after you read this whole post. :)

It was a dark and gloomy Wednesday evening, around six, when I decided to wrap things up in the office and go all the way to Yelahanka, where my brother was waiting in the police station after his bike had been towed away. I had to go there and pay the fine of 600 bucks to bail the bike out. When I left, the rain had just about abated and I made quick time in traveling the 30-odd miles to Yelahanka. We both got drenched on the way back, but that seems to be a minor point of little or no interest to the readers, who’re probably well accustomed to my bouts of bad luck. I met a few friends for dinner that night and decided to liven up the night with a joke.

“Okay, people! I am going to tell you a joke!” I announced. Everyone fell silent and listened intently, being aware of my reputation for spinning a lovely yarn. I was actually trying to impress my friend’s cute cousin who’d joined us. She was sitting next to me and seemed to be hanging on my every word. I desperately wanted to impress her and make her smile. So, I dug into my vast database of corny jokes and pulled out the best one!:D

“There was this scientist,” I began, “and he had just invented a biologically-engineered refrigerator. The fridge was so cool (no puns intended!) that it could order groceries online and make instant breakfast. It ran on some pretty cool DNA-computing circuits and was state-of-the-art! It was more intelligent than the most intelligent computers of the day. So, this scientist was selected for the Nobel Prize that year.”

I looked at the cute girl, paused for effect, and smiled. Everyone on the table was gripped. “The Nobel Committee waned him to fly over to Stockholm and demonstrate his bio-engineered refrigerator. So, this scientist rented a single engine Cessna plane and started his journey. Halfway through the flight, the single engine died and the plane began to crash. The pilot screamed, “Hey scientist! We are too heavy and the plane can’t handle it! You have to throw your fridge out!”

“No way!” screamed the scientist. “I have given my whole life for this invention!”

“Look, fella! If we don’t throw it overboard, we’re all going to die. It’s too heavy. You have your research data with you anyway. It’s just a question of assembling it again. Please understand!”

“So, this scientist, after careful deliberation, opened the door with a heavy heart and threw the fridge out.”

I stopped talking and took a sip of water and leaned back with a smile. Everyone on the table were leaning forward, intently waiting. “Then what happened?” asked the cute girl next to me.

“Nothing,” I said. “That’s the end of the story. “

When they all realized that I had conned them, it was too late. The expression on their faces was a million dollar one. I started laughing out so loud that I drowned their angry retorts and groans and the hotel manager came up, glared at me and said, “Sir, please don’t laugh so loud. You’re disturbing the other guests!”

I continued laughing in a whisper and the other people around the table were ready to drown me in my tomato soup. “Okay guys, I am sorry,” I said. “I’ll make it up to you. I’ll tell you a better joke this time and I swear on the graves of all the men, women and children who died building this hotel that you will not be disappointed.”

My reputation as a funny guy preceded me and they all agreed to give me one more chance. “Last chance,” said the cute girl next to me. “I’ll slap you if you do this again.”

I wanted to tell her that I would do anything to get her to slap me because that would mean she would have to touch me. Oh, she was so cute!! :D

“Okay, get ready,” I announced and cleared my throat. “There’s this beautiful lake in the middle of nowhere and in the center of the lake is a small islet on which the most beautiful flower is growing. The lake is infested with crocodiles and sharks and piranhas and just about any man-eating critter nature has created. On the banks of the lake, a man and a woman are sitting, cuddled up. They are very much in love with each other. The woman asks the man to swim across and get that flower for her. He protests and says that he’s going to killed trying to cross the lake. “Is this how much you love me?” asks the girl, very depressed. So, the man takes offense and says, “If you want me to prove my love to you, then I will cheat death and get you the flower.” He strips down and starts swimming. He battles all the critters that come in his way and finally reaches the middle of the lake, plucks the flower and swims back, again battling nature’s fury. He reaches the shore and climbs out holding the flower. And then, right in front of the woman’s eyes, he dies!”

I paused for effect. “Why did he die?” I asked, looking around at everyone.

They were all listening to my story so intently that one of them immediately said, “The flower was poisonous”

“No,” I said.

“Something attacked him!”

“No”

“He had a heart attack?”

“No”

The cute girl then said, “Tell me, tell me! Please!”

I couldn’t ignore her cries. Oh, and her voice was so sweet. So, I told them the answer – “The fridge fell on him!”

For two minutes there was complete silence and I inched closer to the cute girl and turned my head at an angle so that she could get a good whack at my cheek. But to my surprise, she burst out laughing and so did the others. They liked the stupid joke! I was so annoyed!

So, that’s how I got the title and that’s why I am not too excited about it! She didn’t slap me! Now, I don’t know when I am going to see her next. Damn! :(

The Funny Guy! :)