I walked by the lane in front of my apartments early during the evening and Coffee Day was inviting me for a cup.
"But come on, you just went to Pizza Hut instead of the much cheaper and not-so-bad quality Arya Tiffins." rebelled my saner side.
Just as I turned away from my temptation I found a cart full of tender coconuts (wo)manned by a lady not older than 30 years. She looked at me with expectation of making some sale.
"Kitna hai?" I enquired.
"Che rupiya, bhaiya!" she said in a subdued voice.
She dexterously sliced the cocunut, inserted the straw and handed it over to me.
"Khaan se aate hai yeh sub?"
"Gaon se bhaiya, Yellore!", she answered with an amused smile, probably glad that some one actually cared to know.
As I started sipping into the sweet nectar, I mentally weighed the worth of a 50-rupee flavoured cappuccino from Coffee Day or, for that matter, a 15-rupee Coke against a 6-rupee tender coconut. The difference in value for money was glaring. There is not a match to the feel-good factor one would get at the realisation of making a right choice!
Little did I realise that more was about to come. Right at that moment, two well-groomed girls with all the typical looks of the middle-class youth riding the wave of IT industry's gift walked by, and took interest at the coconut cart (or I would hope, me!) just as I did minutes ago. After a quick eye-lock with mine, they turned to business!
"kitna hai?", asked one of them
She considered that for a moment and replied,
"Dus ka Do karke do"
The seller remained mute implying a half-hearted agreement. That got me thinking. This is one instance where people like us who are habitual bargainers "save" some money, without really saving much. If one thinks about it, people especially in our strata of the society squander so much money on totally worthless expenditures for no better reason than because we can afford it. Or worse, even if we can't!
Here is a common example. When we buy Coke or Pepsi, we pay a large portion of the money to cover the beverage company's cost for wooing movie and non-performing cricket stars into advertising their products and buy a diuretic (which makes us lose water) to quench our thirst. Yup, this is what we use our freedom-to-choose for. And do we know to identify the real ones from fake? To get back to the point, we don't even have an option to bargain!
What do I gain from this small episode?
- In general, for our own good, we need to interpret the freedom of choice as "responsibility of choice". That way, we would tend to be more progressive, like, say, knowing that soft drinks are diuretics or to check a fake Coke from the real one.
- Specific to this case, I think the buyer has already saved when she chose a tender coconut over a cappuccino from Coffee Day or Coke. She could have been more philanthropic in just letting that two rupees go.
I felt like treating myself.
"Ek aur Naariyal deejiye!", I said with smile as she looked at me puzzled.