#TheWriteChoice challenge; day-2

Sastang dandavat at your lotus feet oh Swamiji!

Today’s topic is quite a sensitive one. All of us are now facing the heat of inflation which has increased the cost of almost everything. As if it was not enough, that world is facing a ravaging war between Russia and Ukraine. This has led to a very bad thing for India: increased cost of power. India imports about 90 percent of its petroleum requirement and spends precious foreign exchange reserves. In a nutshell, as petrol, diesel and cooking gas prices have gone through the roof fueled by geopolitical instability, prices of most of the day-to-day use commodities have also skyrocketed, the recent one being the quintessential ‘lemon’.

Anyway, with all these introductions like a self-styled economist, let me boil down to a real economist, rather a humanist. Generally, every Sunday, I bring Poori sabji from a vendor for morning breakfast. The Pooriwala is from Bihar and his shop always remains crowded with Bihari and UP based daily labourers. Being an Odia family, we also like the taste. But it has been quite some time, I visited the shop due to various reasons the main being the shop is about 3 KM away. So, to have 3 plates of Poori-sabji, spending an exorbitant petrol cost to be paid was not making any logic!

By the way what is the price of petrol per litre in your locality? In Hyderabad, it is Rs 119.68 per litre.

But, the taste of the delicious Poori-sabji, drove me crazy last Sunday and shedding all inhibitions, I rode to the shop on my two-wheeler. In the meantime, the other shop from which I have been getting the Telugu style Poori-sabji, the cost per plate had long been gone up to Rs. 30 per plate from Rs. 25 per plate. So, assuming the same price, I handed over a 100 rupee note to the Bihari Pooriwala. I calculated that he would return me Rs. 10 as 3 plates of poori would cost Rs. 90 at the rate of Rs. 30 per plate. But he returned me Rs. 25 instead!

Taken aback by this amount, I asked him, “Bhaiya, are you too happy to see your old customer that, you are making mistake in your Maths! I think, you have returned Rs. 15 extra.” He smiled and told me that 25 multiplied by 3 is 75 and 100 minus 75 is 25! I could not hold my curiosity and asked the fellow, what on earth has restricted him from increasing the price? The reply which I got was mind boggling loaded with both empathy and economics! Please do read carefully.

The Pooriwala told me, “Sahab, aap bade log hain. Aapko mahngai bas pareshan karti hai, par hum jaison ko maarti hai. Mein starting se yeh kaam nahin karta tha. Mein bhi 18 yrs k age main Hyderabad aya tha kaam dhoondne. Par us time khane ki badi killat thi aur dhang ka khana nahin milta tha. Toh maine socha kyun na ek tiffin ki shop kholi jaye aur humare bhaion ko apne type ka khana mil paye. Toh maine dukan kholi aur poori-sabji, samosa, jalebi, pakode aur gulabjamoon banana suru kiya. Mere bhai bharpet nashta kar k kaam par jane lage. Iss cheej se mujhe bahut Khushi mili.

He continued pointing towards the crowd having breakfast in his shop and waiting for the contractor to be taken to work,” Sahab, yeh log already mahngai ka maar jhel rahe hain. Ab mein bhi rate badha dunga toh yeh log nirash ho jayenge. Aap toh Sarkari Mulazim hain, aap ko Mahngai Bhatta milti hai, par in logon ki kaun sunta hai? Contractor inpar kya kya julm dhata hai, aap imagine bhi nahin kar paoge. Kam se kam mein toh inhe thodi Rahat doon. Mein bhi in mein se hi ek hoon sahab.

I then asked the fellow about his input costs and how he was able to manage the expenditures maintaining his profit. He explained me that the profit margin has come down a bit because of input cost increase. But the degree of satisfaction he has derived could not be purchased by any amount of money on earth. The smile and gesture he receives from his customers compensates for all the margin pressure. As per his own words, ”Sahab life mein paisa sab kuch nahin hota hai. Insaaniyat naam ki kuch cheez bhi hoti hai.” He also told me emphatically that as he has not increased the prices, he has not lost any customer, instead he has gained some. Whatever he was earning, he was contained with it.

I learnt a big lesson. He is not an ordinary pooriwala. He is a notch up and he has the human values. I requested him to keep the change as he was doing an awesome job. With a lot of hesitation he kept the amount. There are very few people who absorbing the shock would pass on a gentle gesture in the current world. And he is one of them. I felt quite fortunate to meet him. I saluted him. It reminded me of the immense pain undertaken by Swamiji to make our lives good and comfortable. With the poori-sabji, I got a dose of humanity too and that to without any additional cost!

What do you think of the Pooriwala, please do let me know in the comments section.

Thank you all and Jai Shri Hari…

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Biswa Nanda

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