Monday, May 9, 2011

Mission Tomatoes (Rs.250 a kg)


                            Picture courtesy http://www.naturalfoodpantry.ca


If necessity is the mother of all inventions then addiction has to have a sure shot baap-of-the-business connection with innovation. In a state like Gujarat, whose natives are blessed with the twenty fourth pair of chromosomes (not quite literally) exclusively created for holding the ingredients for acquiring the business acumen; who eat, drink and breathe bijnesss are expected to invent the state-of-the-art measures to curb the plight of the victims (self proclaimed) of the Gandhian principles.

In the spotlight this time around is the league of bootleggers who can give the business tycoons a run for their money, if they use their geniuses with the right approach and in the right direction.  Few days back, surrendering to the paranoia followed by a strong urge to be geared up for the not-so-comforting-lethargic lifestyle I’ve been gifted with all these years, I set out for the vegetable market in the hope of lending a helping hand to my ever-so-dedicated-to her-family mother. I set out for the vegetable market and the moment I laid my foot in there, I was welcomed by the shrieks loud enough to blow up an entire nation. Amazed by the innate talent of the fairer sex, the knack of bargaining, I was tempted to try my hands on it to my instant miserable failure. What came next almost gave me a heart attack.

I saw a roadside vendor selling Tomatoes at Rs. 250 a kg. Aware of the onion price rise due to some controversial reasons which need to be thrown some light upon (lets keep it for some other time,), I could understand, but this? I was ashamed of my ignorance before I decided to shift my focus from mastering the art of scaring the hell out of the vendors by yelling at them to making my childhood dream-profession a reality, to be a detective. So, challenging myself to beat the man himself, Sherlock Holmes, I wore the invisible hat to give me the real feel and approached the man who had almost killed me few moments ago.

With the stoned expression often seen in the classic detective movies, I set out on ‘Mission Tomatoes (Rs.250/kg)’ and after all the exhausting efforts I had to put in, I could finally dig out the real deal behind the ridiculously high price of tomatoes. Those were the spiked tomatoes, an addition to the illicit liquor trade in the ‘dry’ Gujarat despite of all the false claims of prohibition norms and police crackdowns. Here is how they do it. They soften the tomatoes and extract the juice with a syringe. The liquor concoction is then injected into the tomato before being frozen. Amazing, isn’t it!!!

The proud consumers of these claim to have their dose without their spouses knowing about it and the bonus…as prohibition laws don’t mention the spiked tomatoes anywhere, even if they are caught, it will be difficult for cops to arrest people. The inventor should certainly be awarded for coming up with such a novel idea to fool the authorities!!!

Taking off my invisible detective hat, I put on my thinking hat instead and started contemplating the reasons behind this farce better termed as prohibition. The interesting fact is, Gujarat, inspite of being a dry state is ranked amongst the top five states in alcohol consumption. Truckloads of liquor are smuggled in from the neighboring states and sold at inflated prices. The state loses around 30,000 crore of revenue every year which could be used for lucrative purposes.

Whether the ban should be lifted or the prohibition laws should be followed with more obedience is altogether a different debate. Anyway, with the ‘mission impossible’ theme song strumming in my head, so real that I had to look around for the source in that ear and brain bursting chaos, soon to realize that it was just my head reacting to the self pleasing conquest. I soon remembered the actual purpose of coming to the market; so returning back to my old not-so-exciting life, I had just experienced, I finished my job. Mission accomplished’ was all I could say in response to the questions I was attacked with, and what I received in return was a she-is-a-gone-case-God-save-her expressions from my mom.