An economic apocalypse


Arshid Malik
What’s with the prices? They keep skyrocketing all the time. There is no stopping them. Alas! The incomes hardly crawl up. As times goes by a huge disparity is coming up between the money you earn every month and the money you spend every month. Almost everyone I know has a story to tell and the linealways goes “I just can’t balance what I earn and what I spend”. And then there are those who have grown rich over night and they are everywhere. They are out to spend lavishly and there is no stopping them and they have toughened up the survival of the petite commoners.  

What is the world coming to, an economic apocalypse or what? I am not sure but the signs are sure telltale. We are on the brink of an economic apocalypse, where the upwardly mobiles and the working classes are witnessing a denture-less slide towards extinction of the primal commodity that actually runs the world, money that is, in the sense that seems to disappear between your palms and the folds of your wallet no matter how much of this stuff you actually happen to put in, while the elite are enjoying blueberry shakes on their journey upwards.

Speaking of the age of our parents, when they narrate stories about their childhood and youth, it becomes quite unbearable. How is it possible that you could purchase a kilogram of good quality mutton for an un-examinable quarter of a rupee? How is it ever happening that you bought a state-of-the-art television set, even though black and white, for a handful of ten rupee notes? How could it be that you actually spent a few hundred rupees on a marriage ceremony and could barter a plot of land for a gunny sack full of soya bean? Whenever my father narrates a story about his past, times when he used to go out on strolls with his father or perhaps his grandfather, it makes my temples twist in inflicting the worst kind of agony.

Well, how far have we come from the age that one could barter a plot of land for a gunny sack full of soya bean or peas? Very far, I must say. In fact we have come so far that we don’t even remember what the asking price for a kilogram of mutton was last week for the prices keep pushing up every alternate day and somehow we think that we have come to adjust with this extortion called “inflation”.

So, on an average how much does one spend on a marriage ceremony these days back in Kashmir? Don’t ask me for I got married over a couple of dates and few cups of Kashmiri “qehwah”. Actually people are spending fortunes over marriages. I recently heard about a marriage wherein more than ten thousand people actually had an ostentatious lunch over a week’s time and the grapevine says that no one even belched. Gone are the days when a seven course meal was the best we had come face to face with.

Today we are talking about fifteen to twenty five dishes served along with a 2 litre bottle of soft drink, mineral water, curd and what not. You just have to have one of those people who just keep pushing the line a little further in the guise of improvisation. Hey, I recall another matrimonial episode where the guests from the groom’s side were served up ten thousand rupees wrapped up in clean and shiny plastic armour right besides the tasty “tabak maaz” (sizzling lamb rib cooked in pure clarified butter) and another one where 24 carat gold coins gilded the “trami” (Kashmiri traditional serving platter) alongside the “rista” (soft mutton balls cooked in maroon gravy). Given the fact that the prices of all commodities have shot up thirty-fold, we are looking at a scene where the common place father of the bride won’t even think about getting his daughter married. We are talking of an apocalypse that is approaching us in a fragmented manner while we are savouring the fifteen course meals.  

It is not only about matrimony. Talk about building a house. We are talking fortunes, my friend. Spaces have gone beyond the actual meaning of space. A house is no longer a shelter. It has metamorphosed into a symbol of status. Home is a different concept altogether as compared to what we are building out there as of now. Home is a place that keeps you secure and indeed not a place which you need to keep secure by employing an assemblage of people including security guards, house maids and gate keepers. We have come a long way and still there are an elaborate number of people who are shelter-less.

It is bewildering, the whole story. One, inflation has hit record highs and second, we are out on a spending spree. So, are we as people responsible for what is happening, the elephantine divide between the rich and the poor and the skyrocketing prices or is it some kind of an economic disorder set into motion by the New World Order, the phenomenon called Globalisation.

I guess it is time we sat down and gave it a moment. We might actually be responsible for the catastrophe we have created and there might be some time left till we could actually salvage the population from coming eye-to-eye with an economic apocalypse.

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