A news item about an armed highway robbery in Jaipur shook me up. Three armed men hijacked a truckload of onions on the Delhi – Jaipur highway. I went scurrying to the kitchen where 25 or so of the valuables were lying out there in plain sight making me and my family vulnerable to armed attack! I quickly collected the onions and put them into a plastic bag. “Mom, what’s there in your tijori?” I asked panic-stricken. “Why?” she asked, not unreasonable. “We need to hide our onions and then take them to put them in the bank locker. See this article in The Times Of India – highwaymen are targeting onion trucks. Won’t be long before houses are broken into for onions. I’ll also go buy some more before going to the bank.” She was not amused by my fear.
I went to the vegetable seller to stock up on the commodity before it became unaffordable. “Bhaiyya, pyaz hai?” He looked back at me with a measuring stare. “Kanda?” I tried again. He looked around furtively, gave a small jerk of his head and asked me to follow him. Bemused, I trotted after him. He led me to the nearby police chowki. ”Pyaz chahiye?” the stern hawaldaar asked. “Photo ID dikhao.” The policeman made careful note of all my details from my Aadhaar card in his register. “This is a Bombay address. You cannot buy onions in Pune based on this,” he informed, “visitors and tourists cannot buy onions.” No, I protested, I stay in Pune and have been living here for a while now.
“Where do you stay?”
“In a rented house.”
“ Get the rent agreement.”
Back I went, knowing that now I had to buy the onions or I would be on the police watch-list.
Loud voices greeted me at home. The maid was having a tussle with my mom. She wanted a revision in her salary because of inflation. “I want 3 kilos on onions every month,” she demanded. An extended debate later they decided the maid would get two onions every day that she came to work.
“Check this out,” my dad came with The Times of India. He had been buffered in his room behind the paper so far. He was completely oblivious to all the drama happening since morning. The headline of the article he was electrified by: Small Eateries Charge For Extra Onion in City.
Staggering under a miasma of hopelessness, the family had an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) attended by the full quorum of three to discuss our option in a country where the currency had dived down a seemingly bottomless pit (last reported, the rupee was 63 point something against the dollar and falling), cost of living had gone through the roof (and still rising) and the government was only interested in strengthening its identified vote banks. Booking ourselves on the Mars 1 to re-settle on Mars in 2023 seems like the best option. In the interim, we can sell of everything here and go to one of the smaller Caribbean islands where they are selling citizenships.
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