Collateral Damage

You have been reading the papers too. In the hurry of the morning minute. Somethings register. Many things dont. But today you are in the market. The missus has brought you here. By force. It doesnt take long for you to realise whats been lurking in the dark corridors of the mind.

That you are far removed from the reality of the real world.

You wonder if you are part of the burgeoning numbers of escapists. Not for long. For you know. Educated. Desk worker. Working out of cubicles cleaned by contracted organisations to the sound of noiseless air conditioners.

Lost in a mirage filled canopy of busy ness. In perpetual quest of aggrandisement of self-importance. All under the garb of work !! Attending meetings, making presentations, sending mail, seeking approvals and giving feedback ! ofcourse, all over many cups of tea.

Today, you hear the missus bargain with the vegetable vendor. In marathi. For obvious reasons, you feel safe in her company. You hold the bag. She bargains. Brinjal. Cauliflower. Onions. You hear the prices. And baulk.

You remember reading in the papers about inflation and such else. But arent quite prepared for this.

You remember going to the market as a young boy. Shopping for the family. At these prices, you think you could have bought out every chap out there. You are still reeling from the surprise. Of the prices.

And, you realise, what irks you more is how distant you are from the masses.You follow the missus. Shop after shop. Carrying that bag. Wondering, how people make a living at these prices.

The security gaurd who perhaps would make as much as your monthly grocery bill. The chap who cleans the car who perhaps would make half of that. The maid who mops the floor. The shop boy who fetches the product. You wonder.

The weight of the bag of vegetables isnt as heavy as the thoughts that run past you. You wince.

That night, long after your trip to the market, you are in bed. A book in hand. Reading lamp on. The book that usually sets some thoughts afire is miles away from a strand of a spark. Restless thoughts still roam the market that you went to.

You realise how fortunate and cocooned you are. You make resolutions about sharing. About awareness. About staying light. You feel better. Slightly.

The missus senses something amiss. You sense she has sensed something too. The air stays quiet. Interrupted by honks and wailing sirens faded by the distance. This city isnt called maximum city for nothing. Making a living despite all odds is what gets you by.

She clears her throat. And says, ‘you know in some time we can apply for a new loan’. You sit up. Half in trepidation. For you dont know where this is headed. ‘I have the collaterals ready’.

Your ears perk up. Like a deer who hears the rustle of dead leaves as the cheetah gallops towards it. “In some time the collateral will have enough value to make the bank chap sit up” …..

In the silence. You sit up. Half a tremor seeps through as you mutter ‘and what is that’

‘Two bags of cauliflowers. At current prices….’. Her voice trails.

You smile. Close the book. Say your prayer to the lord up there. And thank him for his large mercies.

18 thoughts on “Collateral Damage

  1. Pearl says:

    Tomorrow is Thanksgiving in the United States.

    I am thankful for people like you, Kavi. You were one of my first “foreigners” :-), one of the first blogs I read by someone very, very far away; and I take comfort in how alike we sometimes are, that there are people other than myself looking closely at things, looking at the overall picture and wondering…

    We are lucky people.


  2. Wonderful. I unreservedly applaud the missus. For the innovative multitasking. Bhaji, carrying the stuff, current events financial updates, dynamically changing status of non-human resources (NHR). Once again indicating how futile it is to do MBA in fancy places, when the teacher is right there in the house.

    I hope tur dal is next.

  3. Neha says:

    your missus had the last word…

    this is my shortest comment on ur blog 🙂

  4. RGB says:

    Missus said it right. At this rate, a cauliflower can indeed be a collateral security some day. Can we preserve it (intact) for that day? Loved the way you put it across in your blog.

  5. when I came to India last year, I too reeled at the prices (that too after converting the rupees into dollars!!) I could do with two bags of cauliflowers!!! 😀
    You may have heard of the churiwaala in Gariahat who owns an apartment in a posh complex just opposite his illegal shop on the footpath!!

  6. Rush says:

    lol…hilarious, u built up the story sooo well.
    anil is amazed at the prices…he says”its pinching me so much when im spending in dollars, imagine the common man here”…ur voice is being heard and i bet everyone resonates with it, its like being ripped off and stolen in the name of inflation.

  7. manju says:

    What an O’Henry- type twist at the end! Wonderful post, Kavi!

    Prices of vegetables are atrocious, though- we will not be able to afford to eat at all soon!

  8. bodaat says:

    you have such a wonderful way with words Kavi! love this story. 🙂

  9. aativas says:

    It happens to me too. I mean compare the comforts we have and the battle others have, we must be thankful for what we have. But I sometimes wonder, whether just thanking is enough 🙁

  10. Rush says:

    Thanks Kavi and i hope the tradition lives on forever.Each one of ur wishes goes a long way and i can never thankyou enuf for all the love showered on the project.

  11. (The weight of the bag of vegetables isnt as heavy as the thoughts that run past you. You wince.)

    Fantastic said lines by you. We have to be heavy. Thanks to technology.

  12. Aparna says:

    Welcome to the world beyond office cubicles. This world has been my paradise for some time now.
    Like Ugich Konitari,waiting for the tur dal post next.

  13. Va Pu kale, an eminent Marathi author once remarked ‘whenver I see menu card, I feel that I am going to eat the item on the left hand side and the item on the right hand side [price] is going to eat me!’

    Now it is not necessary to have a menu card in hand to get that feeling!!


  14. Kavi says:

    Rush : Thanks indeed ! 🙂 It pinches quite a bit. And i hadnt noticed it at all. Thanks to the missus’s deft handling. all the while !

    And the Tulsi project makes me really proud of you and the work that you do ! Keep it going !!

    Ugich Konitari : Tur Dal is also selling at some prices that makes the sambhar pricey ! Seriously !

    yes. The teacher is indeed there ! Right there ! 🙂

    Neha : She always has ! She always has ! 🙂

    roshini : I havent heard. But i guess thats completely possible and indeed a norm.

    It sure is a business opportunity!

    RGB : Thank you ! 🙂

    Manju : I only realised it after you said so ! O henry was a personal favourite too. But that was a long time ago ! 🙂

    Thank you for your kind words. I hope we continue to get vegetables for a longer time !

    Bodaat : Thank yoU ! 🙂

    Pearl : Aww. How kind. many thanks to you. I have a fair handle on bus travel, on Minnesotta and other ‘foreigners’ too !

    And you bet, what a lucky lot. to be looking at the obscure and thinking ‘how wonderful’ ! Truly inspirational stuff Pearl. Keep it going !

    aativas : yes. It sure isnt going to help anybody else, if it all stops with just ‘thank yous’. there is more ! 🙂

    Swatantra : 🙂

    Hobo : thank you ! 🙂

    Aparna : The Tur Dal post is getting some inspiration. It sure is.

    And now…this is paradise…! Well, i have to think this through !

    VSP : How well said ! 🙂 Nowadays, all i have to do to lose weight is to go to the market…and see how much it costs !

  15. Nu says:

    You are Awarded at my blog 🙂

  16. Onkar says:

    A very differently written post on price rise. Lovely.

  17. nsiyer says:

    Brillianto Kavi! brillianto.My missus mentions the prices and my mind reels and my pocket quivers.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.