The recession is over, they say. And it must be.
Firstly because the experts say so. After all, aren’t they the ones who warned us about the collapse of the stock market and the Satyam scam, well in time for everyone to pull their money out? And aren’t they the ones who so accurately predicted the monsoons? That the miserable “below normal” trickle would suddenly turn into an “above normal” deluge so monstrous that it would wash away everything in sight?
And because young nieces and nephews, the ink on their software degrees still wet, are back to earning upwards of 40,000 rupees a month. And because the price of gold and the Sensex have dizzily climbed up like an item girl’s hemline, flashing seductive hints that they may climb up even further.
And because though the Diwali firecracker sellers moaned about slow sales, the stalls were up well in advance to make sure that everyone was stocked up on their cocktails of vishnu-laxmi-mallika-sherawat bombs and 1000-feet laddis. Not because we are callous creeps who didn’t care a whit about our poor, flooded-out-of-home-‘n-hearth
fellow Kannadigas languishing in some miserable relief camp without a phuljadi to their name. But to make sure that on Diwali day, they, like the rest of us, would be deafened, nerve-wracked and almost asphyxiated to death and thus be filled with festive cheer.
A display of collective thoughtfulness that moved me to tears.
The final sign came right and early on Dhanteras day, when every alternate page of the morning newspaper was a full-page advertisement displaying a frightening array of everything we’ve always wanted in plasma TV’s and home theatres but were too recession-pressed to buy.
So, I thought to myself as I agonised over microwave with built-in massage parlour versus plasma TV with 1.06 billion colours and automatic candidature for Rahul-ka-Swayamvar – yup, the recession must well and truly be over.
Till a report about the flood relief work on the neighbouring page caught my eye. According to which the amount sanctioned by the government for a house that had been totally destroyed by the floods was 35000 rupees - but only if it was a ‘pucca’ construction. The poor fools who could not afford to microwave their houses and had “kaccha” ones, would be granted the princely sum of 10,000 rupees.
I know. You’re thinking – 35,000 rupees may not buy enough space in Bengaluru to swing a dead cat in but surely in Backofbeyondinahalli, it would be sufficient to build…well, if not a mansion befitting Donald Trump, certainly an abode worthy of a flood-devastated Backofbeyondinhalli-wallah?
I know that many of us, worrying about where our next smart phone is going to come from may not know this. But apparently the cost of a basic one-room kitchen house, just large enough to swing the aforementioned dead cat in and no Italian marble in the swimming pool is about one lakh of rupees.
Even in Backofbeyondinahalli.
Now I’m thinking - why just 35,000 rupees? I mean, money should not be a problem, now that the recession is over and happy days are here again, thumbs up, thumbs up, is it not?
Ah. Good question.
You see, there was a lot of careful, sagacious thinking behind the government’s circumspection about doling out the flood relief moolah. This way, if we were a flood-hit, homeless Backofbeyondinahalli-wallah (which we aren’t, thank God), we build just one-third of a house this year. Then, hopefully if the gods oblige with floods next year and the one-third remains standing, we will know how flood-worthy it is and get on with building another one-third. And then, if the year after that, the gods continue to rain down their munificence, we finish off the remaining one-third, just in time for Diwali.
Gosh-‘n-golly. I never thought of it quite like that. But now that you have explained it to me like that, who would’ve thought that our policy makers are capable of such brilliance.
Anyway, while the Backofbeyondinahalli-wallahs slowly cobble back together their washed-out lives and build their one-third houses, we shouldn’t be too cock-a-whoop about the receded recession. Apparently the floods have destroyed so much of the standing crops that this time next year, a plate of idli sambar may cost more than a smart phone.
Incidentally, I’d like to tell you that I opted for the plasma TV with 1.06 billion colours and automatic candidature for Rahul-ka-Swayamvar. I mean, which woman in her right mind would pass up an opportunity to be Rahul Mahajan’s telly-bride?