The Bargain Hunter


Update for Week Ended 17 June 2011

Ravi was excited. His mother, Lalita, was planning on taking him with her to the market, straight from school. It was the bi-weekly PT day (physical training day – when the children wear their white uniforms with the house colour on the collars). Lalita looked a little miffed, when she saw him waiting at the school gate. “Beta Ravi, how could you soil your clothes so much?” she asked in her loving voice. “Mummy, it is nothing, look at Rahul who jumped into the water puddle and has more dust and soil on his clothes. And do you know what – he stinks because he says that the wtare tap ran dry when he just soaped up in the shower this morning”. Lalita did not actually listen to what Ravi said, though she was hearing him. She led him on with her red plastic market bag in the other hand. They headed to the vegetable market, mucky, crowded and slightly smelly, as the vegetable remains, like cauliflower leaves and other such paraphernalia lay in heaps around getting wet. Lalita was quite a brave woman to also venture out to this market in her white saree with that sky blue border and blue flowers. She smartly avoided the puddles, and walked to her regular vendor. As she was examining the white cauliflower, she casually asked its price. She was aghast to hear that the prices had almost doubled since her past week’s visit. “I will not pay more than Rs 10 for this one”, she insisted as she proceeded to choose the plumpest, red tomatoes. She never ever took her attention off her “beta” Ravi, as he skipped about the market trying to shoo a crow that was playing Catch with him. She only raised her voice twice, “Beta Ravi!” and that was enough to tame little Ravi in getting back to her. She was a stern woman and almost no-nonsense.  She added brinjals, ladyfinger, cucumber and carrots to her basket, and finally queried to the vendor, “how much?” The vendor mumbled something that sounded like Rs 50 – but Lalita had done her maths, and she sternly said, “I will only pay Rs 39.80” because that is how much is owed. He protested, but Lalita was determined to move ahead. She would bargain and get her deal.

The D Boyz were quite excited to hear that their caretakers, or real mothers, would pick them up – these caretakers were also white – except that they did not necessarily wear white, their skin was that colour as they came from afar – from Europe and the Americas – the Foreign shores. The news out there was positive, so the D Boyz looked forward to some perking up on D Street. However, what followed was not – they followed these Foreigners who took them through murky streets (almost muddy and bankrupt – like a Greek Moussaka gone bad!). And the muck on the streets only added to their heavily laden shoes getting heavier, making it difficult for them to walk and work – and after all the street walking, they lost some of their Chowannies (25 paise coins) near the Central Bank street and paid more for their food and other necessities as prices continued to soar and were finally poorer by 398 points (down to 17871) – they felt 10 times worse than some Ravi.

Lalita was being followed by a cameraman and his reporter who stopped her in her tracks – and remarked, “you are a good negotiator and bargainer” to which she smiled knowingly. He continued, “but why spend more for your detergent?”………. The rest is a legend that many Indians would know. The D Boyz felt disgusted that they mistakenly tuned into a channel that was airing vintage TV commercials.

Have a nice weekend ahead…. Cheers.

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