Sunday, 29 July 2012

The Price of Wheat and Lentils...

We were at the Phoenix Market City mall shopping for Sid’s wedding when we decided to take a breather at Costa Coffee. Puja whipped 200 bucks from my wallet, and went for a cold coffee. Also get me a bottle of water, I told her. I did some quick math in my head – sixty bucks for the coffee, another ten for the water – so she should get back 130 bucks. To my horror, she returned with just ten bucks! Seeing my quizzical expression, she threw up her hands in the air – Pa, kis zamaane mein rehte ho, she asked. The coffee (since the simple `cold coffee’ of my college days is no longer available anywhere, she had got something with a french sounding name – latte or frappe or something of the kind) had cost Rs 155, and the water (a SMALL 500 ml bottle, mind you) Rs 35!

Thirty five bucks for half a litre of water, Jesus! Took me back to the shocker I faced at Ankara airport in Turkey in 2003, where a similar bottle cost, hold your breath, half a million Turkish lira (I kid you not!). I laboriously counted out the notes (with the great Kemal Ataturk’s face beaming at me from all of them) and handed them over. The guy handed them back, saying these were just 50,000 lira, what he wanted was an additional zero! The Turkish lira at the time was a joke – the cab from the airport to the hotel in Diyarbakir, a mere 2 Km away, cost us 4 million lira! The cab meter was as long as my arm just to accommodate all those zeros! I believe some sense finally prevailed on the Turks, and they revalued their currency by knocking off SIX ZEROS!!

The kids wanted to book tickets for `The Dark Knight Rises’. Using her iPhone and MY Credit Card, Puja booked the tickets as were on our way back – in a jiffy, from the back seat of the car! The cost of four tickets? A cool twelve hundred bucks! Seriously??  I could have bought the Bluray, seen it again n again on my Home Theatre, and STILL have the damn thing!

The special (butter) masala dosa at Vaishali, which cost less than five bucks in my Fergusson days, is now approaching the three figure mark! Samosas at Karachi’s (served with their most delectable chutney) now cost 12 bucks a piece!

Which brings me to Lahore in Pakistan. Apparently, samosas are consumed with great relish by Pakistanis around the year, but the sales skyrocket during Ramazan as it is a staple of the Iftar spread. The City District Government of Lahore had fixed the price of samosas at Rs 6 apiece, and magistrates imposed fine on shopkeepers for selling them at a higher price.  The Punjab Bakers and Sweets Federation had challenged this order at the time, but the Lahore High Court had dismissed the petition. The petitioner then appealed to the Supreme Court of Pakistan against the LHC ruling, and had it overturned! My reaction – La haul vila kuwat! Do the courts in Pakistan, including the Supreme Court, have nothing better to do? Also, if a Karachi’s samosa in Poona costs 12 bucks, which is about 20 Pakistani rupees, then I wonder what the filling of the 6 rupee samosa in Lahore contained!!

This morning, I studiously checked up the prices of wheat and lentils in Poona – so I can no longer be accused of not knowing the `attay-daal ka bhaav’!


  1. It is at such moments one recalls the good old days.....yeh! it is always the good ol'days

    In the decade of 1960s entertainment was something else. Looking out of the window at the Arabian sea of the study room in the boarding house was one pass time which was far more pleasurable than watching anything on the tube these days. The changing moods of the sea were like a perpetual movie. With just two and a half rupees we could enjoy a Sunday afternoon outing - Rent for bicycle 25ps (four hrs), movie ticket 75 ps, One plate of Kerala parotta (2nos) and kurma 75ps, one bar of standard cadbury milk chocolate 50ps, Moongphili (no pop corn in Cannanore those days) 10ps and with the balance 15ps we had the option to imbibe one tumbler of filter coffee, hot or cold.

    Yesterday I took some house guests out to lunch; the typical South Indian banana leaf fare. The lunch, unlimited serves of course, cost Rs. 175/- per person. The monthly school expenditure from my brother and self, including tuition fees and boarding charges, was always under Rs 500/-

    It is not about the money alone as we tend to spend a lot on a lot of possibly unwanted items and activities, I am not sure of the quality of Return on Expenditure (ROE) these days – television for instance.

    Puja and her Gen will definitely not understandably subscribe to this point view. My children skipped the lunch outing yesterday!!!