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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Rising Prices

Scene: The boss’s plush air-conditioned office on the 8th floor with a large picture window.

[Boss glaring angrily at his employee who has asked him for a salary raise]

BOSS: Do you know or do you not know that we are in the middle of an economic crisis?

EMPLOYEE: Sir it is getting really difficult to make ends meet.

BOSS: So you think I am some sort of mint? I can print extra cash for you? We all have problems and we all have to tighten our belts.

EMPLOYEE: Sir, if I tighten my belt anymore my backbone will wear out my belly button.

BOSS: This is all nonsense. You have to learn to economize. Live within your means. Look at me. I have cut down on my holidays to Switzerland; now I just go to Dubai and spend time at the Ski Dubai. Instead of eating out at cordon bleu restaurants four times a week, we eat out only once a week. See today I have ordered a pizza and I will eat it here. Then I don’t have to pay service charge or a big tip. I don’t have to waste precious petrol driving to the restaurant.

EMPLOYEE: That is very admirable sir, but I cannot afford to go for a holiday anywhere and forget about eating out, we cannot eat in. Prices have shot up. Who would have thought that French beans would be Rs. 56 a kilo? Vegetables prices have risen four-fold. Rice has doubled, dal is touching Rs 60 per kilo, we eat one meal in the day and snacks the rest of the time.

BOSS: There’s your problem then, snacks are a waste of money. Avoid snacking. It’s bad for health. My doctor says so. You should eat fruit when you feel hungry.

EMPLOYEE: Fruit is way beyond my means sir. Even locally grown chickoos, papayas and pineapples are a distant dream for me.

BOSS: The price of mangoes has come down. Now it is only Rs 250 per dozen.

EMPLOYEE: Sir, the aam aadmi cannot even think about mangoes. I have to pay my house tax, the electricity bill, the gas bill, bus fares have increased. I used to take three buses to come to work. Now I walk the first and third trips and take the middle trip by bus.

BOSS: That’s very good exercise. My doctor told me I should walk at least for one hour a day for good health, so I have installed a walking track in my garden.

EMPLOYEE: Sir, it wears out my shoes and shoes are very expensive. Also we have a formal dress code in the office and it is very difficult to keep looking crisp and formal.

BOSS: Yes. Appearance is everything. People have to know we are a professional outfit when they enter our doors.

EMPLOYEE: But it costs a lot to keep up appearances, sir. My wife works very hard to stretch my salary, but we have to borrow from friends and relatives by the third week of the month.

BOSS: Fiscal responsibility is the name of the game my good man. You have to plan your expenditure. [The intercom buzzes.] Yes? Oh the pizza’s arrived? Send him in. Send him in.

[The pizza delivery boy comes in hands over a box and a bill]

BOSS: Ah I love these deep dish pizzas! Thank you, thank you. [He takes the box and waves the pizza delivery boy towards the employee] Pay the man my good fellow. It’s Rs 275 and make sure you give him a 20-buck tip. No, no, don’t give it to me. Give it to the delivery guy. Why are you coming at me like that? Help! He’s picking me up. Help! He’s throwing me out of my own window. Help! It’s eight floors down!


[Lights out. Curtains]

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