If ghost stories don’t scare you anymore, your newspaper will. According to the news, we are doomed. The rupee is flirting with 67 to a dollar, onions with 80 to a kg and crude with 40 to a barrel.
As it happens, my newspaper tried to spook me with all the bad news at its command. Having learned to deal with it, I’m not scared anymore. Because it is an annual unfailing exercise. It is that time of the year when onion prices kiss the skies with the notoriety of Mika locking lips with Ms Sawant. So, if I don’t party for a month, I can easily scrape through the onion crisis. Experience tells me that the new crop will hit in September, and life will be back to chopping onions.
Just when I decided not to worry about chopping onions, the global markets turned choppy. My newspaper threatened me with platitudinous bunkum - Monday Mayhem, Markets in a Tailspin, Bloodbath on Dalal Street, Global Jitters, and Commodity Crash. No, Sir. I refuse to be terrorized.
See, the good thing about not being too rich or too poor is that you don’t really care if the rupee deflates, crude plunges, gold gains or commodities crash. Who cares for the devaluation of the Yuan unless you are planning a vacation to China? Who cares for the plummeting rupee unless you are planning to send your kid abroad? Who cares if gold glitters unless you are Bappi Lahiri? And who cares if Washington apples, imported chocolates, kiwi fruit or imported liquor become costlier, because those who consume them don’t really care about a few bucks here and there.
The mayhem on the water-logged street next to my house bothers me more than the mayhem on the Wall Street. Moreover, the thing with onions and stocks is that nobody really knows how high the onions will go, or how low the Nifty will settle. Nobody really knows if the present crisis is a buying opportunity for both - onions and stocks.
While watching the commodities crash on television, I noticed an interesting phenomenon. While CNBC-TV18 clearly said that the free fall in global commodities market was due to the slowing Chinese economy, a panelist on CNN-IBN blamed Modi for the slowdown. Similarly, while market analysts on NDTV Profit blamed the market panic on global cues, mainstream NDTV engaged in the usual Congress versus BJP slugfest. Which makes me wonder why our mainstream media loves to fish in troubled waters - from terror to politics to economy?
During such episodes when my newspaper unleashes fear, I withdraw into the most familiar comfortable place – optimism. Since I am a firm believer of what goes up, comes down, tears of joy trickled down as wholesale onion prices dropped sharply this week. The markets obliged too, albeit marginally.
There are other drivers for my optimistic streak. You see, bad news is a headline but gradual improvement is not. Since onions make me misty every August, I refuse to cry at the dinner table. Plus we’ve been in recession for a decade, so there is nothing more to recess. The fear about the flight of capital does not bother me as there is no other market in the world with consumers bursting at the seams. And the crude can go wherever it wants, because I just cannot drive on Gurgaon’s potholed roads in schizophrenic traffic. When you have nothing to lose, nothing scares you.