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.

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Tiny Steps

I’ve been meaning to write this post for quite some time now, but never really got the chance. Now, I have the time, the motivation and the inclination to actually sit and write it down.

It’s a Friday afternoon and a lazy one at office. Not much of activity in the PR world on a weekend, and most of the work is to be pushed to the next week. So, I sit back in my plush chair, look up at the air-conditioned ceiling and think back at how to start this post.

This is actually an ode, a tribute to a friend of mine who’s been more than just a friend and never more. I call her Chucks, affectionately naming her after the haunted doll in a series of horror movies called Child’s Play. Chuckie’s in Sydney now, and has been for the past year and a half, studying to become a researcher in cancer genetics. Yeah, I know, she’s got big goals.

Actually, this is not an ode to Chucks, but rather a message of hope and strength that she desperately needs right now. She’s never been one to lose hope and direction in life, but quite recently, she shocked me when she said that she had lost them both. A self-deprecating journey can be disastrous and I know this first hand, when a lot of things didn’t fall in place for me at one point of time, and I fell into so deep a hole that it took me almost a year to recover. Chucks played a vital role in my recovery, and ever since, I’ve looked upon her as more of a mentor than a very good friend. it’s now been five years to the day since I’ve known her. April 18, 2002. 🙂

When a mentor loses confidence, then it’s up to the disciple to take over the mantle and guide the mentor out of the looming abyss. Things happen in life that can’t be avoided. We all go through a phase when we start questioning our judgments and our decisions, and whenever possible, we must be strong enough to back ourselves up. Realizing that we are of sound mind and sound body can help a lot.

Have faith, Chucks. Never lose faith. Believe in yourself and you’ll do amazing things. I am sure of that. I know you and I know your abilities and I’m sure somewhere deep down, you do too. Hope and faith are all the ammunition you’ve got to fight depression and bad tides. I urge you to use it.

Nostalgia can go a long way in your recovery. Remember how you cured me, Chucks. Remember the medicines you gave me – nostalgia, hope and faith. I hope you remember, because if you don’t, then I’d have to come all the way to Sydney now. 😀

I wish you all the very best in your life, Chucks. You’ve got a long and fruitful life ahead of you, and please don’t lose track of your original goals and plans. I’m here for you; we’re all here for you, Chucks. We want you to succeed and I want you to fulfill your promises you made me before you left.

Proceed in tiny steps, Chucks.

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Dear Readers: I apologize if this blog wasn’t really the ideal forum for posting this message to Chucks, but I had to do it. After what she’s done for me, I feel this is the least I could do. I would be grateful if you could leave behind your wishes and good will for my dear Chucks, and hope that she can get over her troubles and depressions and return home victorious! Thanks! I owe you all! 🙂

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