Tuesday, February 07, 2012

The price of a chappathi.

Had a chat with the waiter at a restaurant near my place. My roommate and me are a regular to this restaurant and so this particular waiter is pretty friendly with us. We placed an order for 2 butter naans, 2 chappathis, aloo mutter and a panneer butter masala. After a little while, the order was served and the waiter said he brought me chappathi with side dish instead of just two chappathis. I was confused(so are you).
       He understood why I was confused and told me that 2 chappathis cost 50 bucks and 2 chappathis with side dish(if we order separately) also cost 50 bucks. He said something more, he said 25 bucks for a chappathi is a lot. It felt like a slap on the cheek to me. May be it was not his intention, but may be he was also saying that we don't know the value of money.
       The conversation didn't end there. He was back to take another order and we prodded him about his work at the restaurant. This is what he had to say " Its been 9 months since I have been to home(which is in Jharkhand, about 36 hours of train journey from Chennai) and when I hear my kids on the phone I feel helpless. I get 4000 bucks a month here and its not enough to have my family stay with me in Chennai. On top of that, if someone orders a dish and refuses to take it, the cost of that dish is recovered from our salary. This way, I keep losing 300-400 bucks every month. We are given free food, but that's only at 11 in the morning and 12 in the night. I have my leave from April 10th and then will be off for three months, but I won't get paid during that time. "
      We were left wondering as to why do we think our lives are not that well off? Yes, we know we are leading a good life. We can go home when we want to, we can eat a chappathi at 25 bucks if not more, we have friends who can lend us some money in times of need or we have banks which can give loans even if there is no real need. We do all this and we still complain. Then what should this man do? My biggest problem the day I wrote this article was that the modem was faulty. That's the gulf.

     For most of us, it is a hard feeling to stomach that there are people who dont have the means to fill their stomach. A few give shape to this feeling through charity and donations and a lot of other means. Most of us probably don't. An article like this won't change the world. What we do after knowing that there are people who can't make ends meet; does. At least, think twice before placing an order. You don't want to reject it and eat into someone else's priceless pie.


bangima said...

There once was a song by Phil collins that emotes much like you did in your article it goes something like this
" she calls out to the man on the street
"sir- Can you help me
Its cold n i've nowhere to sleep
-someplace you can tell me?"
He walks on, doesn't look back
pretends he can't see her
Starts to whistle as he crosses the street
Seems embarrassed to be there
Oh! Think twice - This is just an other day for you n me in paradise

I liked it then - I can see why!
Compassion is a good thing - makes us think good things, makes us do good things - like all things considered - We take compassion for granted - Its like a lil dose of medicine, a flu shot , if you could call it that - that we need from time to time to get by and feel good about ourselves
What we need is a continuous infusion - A saline drip!
We have to make the world less unequal for you and me and the other earthlings

Thanks for moving a mountain though!

Manjunath said...

That was a eye opener dude..
I know I never refused to take my orders, but there will be 100 other things that I might be doing that actually put others in trouble..
Some of them are :
1. We take a Auto rikshaw paying what ever they ask for, and never demand for meter. And the auto drivers get used to getting paid extra and they never use the meter even if anybody who cant afford is in emergency..
2. We pay tips in hotels, and when some servers see ppl who cant do that, they will not be attended properly
3. In bangalore, to areas like ITPL, CV Raman Nagar and all we use soo many AC busses that BMTC has almost stopped normal busses to these areas and have added many AC busses. How should a person who cant afford the AC bus should travel

There are many such instances... Sad but true...

KrishnaSwaroop said...

@bangima... thanks anna. The song and especially the saline drip. That's what we need.

@Manjunath...from our end we can try looking at solutions for problems like point 1 and point 2. point 3 is something that is out of our control, only if policy passers had some sense.