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Buy, buy 2005!

IN WRITING about the year gone by, the first thing that strikes one is that this was the year of the spare cash. Almost all people in the middle class seemed to have extra money to spend. In many cases it was borrowed money but in quite a few it was increased savings. The interest rates were low but middle class found out the advantages of investing in safe ventures in the Stock Exchange.

india Updated: Jan 01, 2006 00:09 IST

Honk! Honk! Here goes the 2005 jalopy home loaded with low-interest buys. With more cash in hand and growing Mumbai mindset, the city is all set for the metro trip 2006! Just know how?

IN WRITING about the year gone by, the first thing that strikes one is that this was the year of the spare cash. Almost all people in the middle class seemed to have extra money to spend. In many cases it was borrowed money but in quite a few it was increased savings. The interest rates were low but middle class found out the advantages of investing in safe ventures in the Stock Exchange.

Middle class investment in mutual funds went up, and spare cash was generated. People who till five years ago were spending fifty rupees on a cinema ticket are now spending double the amount. They then go to a hall, where more than half the seats are empty but the hall still makes money. Another facet of this surplus cash is the eating out habit. Be it a working day or a holiday, all restaurants that are known to serve good food at reasonable prices have a full house. There is also the glamour food market that serves Pizzas and burgers.

The latter has certainly caught on but the former is still making a desperate effort. Pizza prices have been cut to point where a thin crust pizza looks more like a “Papad” with some cheese on top.

There is little doubt however that our laid back city is now changing. It has three shopping malls and people are in a hurry to spend money. Gone are the days of the friendly retailer who would throw hundred saris at you just to get you to select one. Now they are all on display and shopping is more impersonal.

Like Apple Singh told cricketer Kumble in that old ad eight years ago, “if you want to buy touch otherwise don’t touch” is the rule. Our corner retailer is putting up a brave face but he knows that his days are numbered. There is also a newly found hurry to get somewhere. No one seems to have time. The days of quiet chat over a cup of coffee are over. The younger generation is less tolerant of age and more incensed about delay or injustice. This is all a good thing provided it leads to something constructive.

The year gone by will also be remembered for that atrocious invention the mobile phone. It is no longer possible to avoid taking a phone call, if you have given your number to someone. In the middle of a golf swing the buzzing begins on the chest. It is the wife telling you that the rickshaw man has failed again and would you please come home and drop the kids at school. In the pre mobile days she would have worked out some alternative of her own but no, now there is the mobile. This wretched instrument shatters peace and it cannot be ignored. That you do at your own peril.

In fact the politicians and others of importance carry more than one phone. One is reserved for VIPS who need to be in touch with you. The other is for the common people who want to discuss what must be paid to get something done.

There is a third one, which is carried by your Chamcha. It has ISD facility and is meant for very special calls that you make. All this of course comes at a price and it is a very big one as the Minister Amarmani Tripathi found out, when he watched “Mantriji aur Mobile”. This terrible invention has also murdered Queens English. You are no loner “You”, just “U”. Also “are” is no longer “are”, but just “R”. You want to say “silly” just type “sly” and everyone understands. And you no longer watch TV for the sake of the programme. You watch it with your mobile on the ready to send messages on everything under the sun. It encourages betting and no human being is ever free from that temptation.

This year of the Mobile Phone has also been the year of the Sting Operations. It all began with a rather simple effort to tell us what we had always known. Film and TV stars extracted the oldest price for doing favours to a lady. Top stars were caught on videotape and they started falling at the feet of the sting operators to escape. It did not work of course. Sting operators are not operators unless they are ruthless. This success and an earlier one about politicians and defence contracts led to the mother of all sting operations. Our worthy members of the Lok Sabha and even the Rajya Sabha were caught with their dhotis round their legs, even the saffron coloured ones. One worthy member having already been caught taking money to ask questions was caught a second time negotiatingfor cash to start local area development programme.

The most beautiful thing was that the Hon’ble Member had no idea about the question to be asked. Once he got his money he just asked that the question be written down. The sting operator wrote a lot of muck and got away with it. Yet another example of the very wide gulf between our elected leaders and their basic IQ.

The members concerned have lost their seats but this matter will not end here.

Ethics in politics is not brought by exposure of scams or even by legislating. It comes only from a change of heart and there is no evidence of that happening.

This was also the year when UP’s Home Secretary acquired a new distinction that would be very difficult to match. He discovered himself in control of a police force, which had a high-ranking officer who loved cross-dressing. This gentleman, father of two, even used the female gender when speaking on phone. He was not left in peace even when he quit the force. He became Radha and retired his/her dancing when a Krishna turned up on his doorstep demanding entry.

Cricket acquired a new hero in Dhoni and Pathan and Our Mohd Kaif lost out in the rat race at least for the moment. Dada was out but he managed to slither in rather than bat himself in. The team has to start the New Year with a tour of Pakistan and that is always a matter of tension for the whole country. Tendulkar got the much-anticipated record, and Parbhu Chawla fired questions at him without waiting for answers.

Finally Hindi language, rich that it is, acquired a new “Muhavra” in 2005, to Go with “Tedhi Kheer” and Khoon Paseena Ek Karke”. “Meerut Se Mahila Police Bula Loonga” was added to the lexicon, which apparently means Kiseeko Galat Kaam Karne Se Rokna.

This was the year when Mumbai saw USA come crashing to the ground, Ulhasnagar Sindhi Association that is. For Kolkata it was the year when the nation had the temerity to give “Dada” the boot and then eat the humble pie.

For Chennai it was year when Tsunami relief operations went badly wrong. For Delhi it was the year of blasts, one by the Tayyaba Lashkars and the other by the Municipal Corporation. Lucknow will recall the year as one in which the city replaced its “Pehle Aap culture with the “Pehle Mein” culture and also the year when Raja Bhaiya and Amarmani Tripathi both went to jail, the latter with his wife in tow.

First Published: Jan 01, 2006 00:09 IST