Monday, November 16, 2009


The Pistol brand purgative is the most popular one ,sir, '' affirmed Thampi, the scrap collector, on an errand to my house to collect old newspapers. '' Three out of five purgative bottles I collect belong to this brand. The contented users tell me that results are instantaneous and explosive.

I crumpled my nose in distaste at the graphic details of the Pistol's effect. All the same, complimenting him, I said, ''Well, well, Thampi. You seem to know a lot about people's brand loyalties.''

''I certainly do, sir,'' said Thampi with a touch of pride. ''In fact, the big companies can save millions that they spend on marketing surveys by employing the services of my clan.''

I was quite impressed. 'Market pollsters, beware!' I thought with amusement. 'The Thampis of this world are out to put you out of business.' But that was not all. The proponents of economic liberalisation may soon have to find new jobs, if one went by Thampi's 'interim report':

''There are heaps of information buried underneath those scrap heaps, sir.'' declared Thampi. ''My inventory of empty liquor bottles, for instance, tells its own story. While a lucky few have climbed the social ladder, from rum to scotch, majority of the poor have come from arrack to hooch. It means that while the rich got richer, the poor got the begging bowl. Some thing is seriously wrong with this government's policy, sir.''

For some reason, the teetotallers were given a go-by in Thampi's sample survey. Nevertheless, Thampi had demolished the trickle-down effect theory of the economic reformists. The only thing that trickled down to the poor, it seemed, was hooch!

By that time Thampi had weighed my stock of old newspapers and said, ''15 kgs in all, sir.'' As he paid me, he whispered, ''We are all victims of people's greed and dishonesty, sir. Why else do the scrapped spark-plugs and disposable syringes find their way back into the market?'' With that parting shot, Thampi left, carrying the bundles.

Later, my wife took me to task for being naive enough to repose my faith in Thampi's weights. For, earlier in the day, when she had checked the stack of newspapers on the bathroom scale, it had weighed more than 25 kgs.

Well I was the latest victim of people's greed and dishonesty!!!!

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