– Venkatesh Raghavan*
I had a distinct memory of sipping Irani tea along with bun-maska in Amir’s restaurant early mornings when he comes into the restaurant after dropping his kids to school on his two-wheeler. It was more than four months since I had the pleasure of early morning gossip along with Irani snacks. It was refreshing when Amir called me up recently complaining that his waiter and manager were inaccessible and it was difficult for him to reopen operations even for parcel delivery. Our conversation went somewhat like this.
Amir: When do you think this nightmare will end? I don’t understand how long people will be able to provide for themselves from their savings. It looks as if we are headed towards what the Bible calls the bottomless pit.
Me: Amir, I think we should look at the brighter side. We don’t need to bother about catching an early morning train or bus. We don’t have any deadlines to bother about. We don’t have to think up excuses for arriving late or missed deadlines. Life is a lot easier and there will be time for all of us to stand and stare.
Amir: You sound like a five-year old who enjoys when heavy rains force his school to shut down. Just tell me how on earth and how long do you plan to sustain yourself with this lethargic euphoria.
Me: We don’t have to work. It does not mean we cannot sustain ourselves. We just have to make an initial investment in buying cows and hen. We will get a continuous supply of milk, eggs and other poultry delicacies. Pure vegetarians can sell their poultry products or have a barter with sellers of vegetables and grains. They can also barter with their dairy products. Our environment will become far cleaner. We won’t even have to bother about crossing traffic-infested roads or crowded pavements.
Amir: I don’t think this will work. How do we take care of our kid’s education and household chores without a housemaid and money to pay for her services? It looks unlikely that such a move will help us with our daily finances.
Me: Amir, that’s not a problem. We can make Mumbai a free port with no traffic and only village-life and fishermen. People can arrive here and make their purchases as they do in Dubai. The civic body can be asked to provide electric buses for the foreigners who want to make their purchases from a duty-free market.
Amir: How do you plan to maintain social distancing and quarantine requirements if you implement this?
Me: We don’t need to have regular shops. We just have to ensure that the buyers are equipped with an android that helps them download an app and place their order which will be dropped from domestic aircraft that get converted to drones. The monetary transactions can be made over the mobile app.
Amir: You still have not answered my question about managing kid’s education and household chores.
Me: Once you take care of the economy, you don’t need to bother about schooling or education. We just have to support the children to do basic calculations and interpersonal communication skills. That can be done at home. That will also leave them with enough time for helping with household chores.
Amir: What about the software jobs, financial institutions and industrial houses? Do you expect them to make a vanishing act?
Me: With all migrants and bachelors sent back to their hometowns, we don’t need to bother about industrial activity. We can convert Mumbai into a holiday resort for industrialist and finance companies. They can shift all activity to other shores.
*The writer is a Mumbai-based journalist, novelist and satirist. He is the author of bestseller thriller, Operation Drug Mafia (Times Group Books).