Being an economist is rum..I mean, you give all these predictions and analysis points on the Indian inflation story and everyone listens to you breathless, waiting for even more pessimistic forecasts and analysis points. Meeting inflation in the corporate corridors or classrooms is great fun. It gives me a sense of …empowerment and I feel so good analyzing it…but come back home and I meet it in my kitchen and the petrol pump and at the grocers’ and especially so in hubby’s eyes when I go shopping…and then suddenly, its not so empowering. In fact, quite the contrary. I feel positively diminished, at least my pocket does.
So, last month, I suddenly took it on myself to grow some vegetables. Now, we are both amateur gardeners and pride ourselves on a smallish garden with the regulars- roses, hibiscus, tulsi…but this time, I declared authoritatively, we’ll grow herbs. So, we started a smallish vegetable garden and for starters, I decided to plant coriander. Rs.20 a bunch, I thought furiously…its robbery! I mean, its not even mainstay for the Indian dinner, but you can’t even do without the damn thing. The dal and the sabzi look so very…forlorn, if you know what I mean..they almost look anaemic without the coriander. Add a dash of the greenery, and suddenly the most ominous looking preparations get smarter. Its almost like the MBA degree, I thought gleefully, it just helps you to look better. So, I got working on it and crushed the coriander seeds into two parts (just 2 parts, the experts had warned me) and I kept them in water for about 4 days and then, the day of the planting finally arrived. With great ado, I dug small little rows with my fingers in the clay and we liberally planted the seeds into the rows. My little one, who had crushed the seeds into either 2…million parts or not crushed them at all 4 days ago, was very excited about this new science activity. We got round planting the seeds and then spread some cocopit on top (just enough to cover but not so much that it gets buried, said the experts again), watered the clay and then…waited.
It was quite an interminable wait, this one. Everyday, with great gusto, I used to look at the pot, which calmly, showed absolutely ZERO signs of any which growth even after 5 days. We had started rudely calling each other “coriander” instead of lazy whilst bickering and my son went so far as to tell me that he was feeling “corianderish” about his homework. Raddish with anger, I told him that he had not turned corianderish; its just all this computer and mobile stuff turning him fenugeekish. Well, a week, and no signs of growth. On the seventh day, my cousin, who is the expert referred to earlier and who would be tough competition to Stephen Roach on doomsday predictions, told me with certainty “Oh, but amateurs should NEVER plant coriander. It never grows. You might as well stop watering it. I am sure your seeds were not right.” Faith, I told myself, courage. After all, if this project fails, I’ll have to buy it at “Rs.22 a bunch today…soooooo horrible”, as my next door friend informed me. And then there were other global repercussions. Failure of this science activity, my son informed me in a state of panic, would apparently cost him his reputation. The sixth grade prefect’s mom apparently grows a kilo of coriander every day. Such pressure! So what with him glowering at me as if I was personally responsible for the greenery failure, constant discouragement from my cousin, who by now was visiting us everyday just to deliver bad news and my husband, who I suspect was enjoying this whole thing, I was really in a state…and then, it….happened!
Day 9: I went for my cursory visit to the garden and suddenly, there was this only one, very tiny, so tiny that it was almost not visible, shoot! YES! Even as my son came capering out to check his renewed chances of being made prefect, I told him to call mama and inform him about this new arrival. My cousin told me promptly without any fuss that this is not coriander at all and that its impossible to grow it anywhere on earth. Oh, for heaven’s sake! I thought. And I prayed for it to be coriander. Prefect chances grew by the day and by day 14, I was sure we had coriander in our garden. It looked so pretty and so lush; it truly was a delight to see it grow like that. Day 30, it was ready to get plucked and even while I plucked it with a deep sense of happiness, I realized the anxiety farmers had about their crops and the monsoon failures.
The phone rang. It was my best friend and we got gossiping about this thing and that. “Really Manasi, what is the world coming to. I bought coriander at Rs.25 a bunch. Its murder, I tell you”, she said with great gusto. Rs. 25 a bunch, I thought. I‘ll take that any day.