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The dream sellers of Kerala

There is hardly a place in Kerala where you will not run into the ubiquitous lottery ticket seller. Clutching a sheaf of multicoloured tickets with a rexine bag tucked under his arm, some of these self-taught salesmen are persistence and persuasiveness personified, being enviably endowed with the gift of the gab. They will somehow talk you into buying a ticket or two, holding out the possibility of making you rich overnight, before disappearing only to importune you again the next day.

Some use a loudspeaker-fitted car blaring out enticing messages while many cycle around with a clipboard of tickets on the handlebar. Some are physically challenged, moving around in self-propelled tricycles. The majority, however, leg it tirelessly to meet their daily sales target. Stop at a busy intersection and sure enough a couple of them will accost you.

Their well-rehearsed spiel is aimed at fuelling your dreams and rekindling hope — the bedrock of lotteries. They encourage you to build castles in the air — only to see them crumble more often than not. To boost sales, some will claim to have sold a bumper prize-winning ticket recently, knowing full well you can never verify this. And, of course, no rebuff will put them off easily for, after all, their very livelihood hinges on their resilience.

Familiarity sometimes emboldens ticket sellers to take liberties with customers. They will slip tickets, unsought, into the laps of bus commuters, returning to collect the money or the ticket, if unaccepted. I promptly returned such a ticket once — and predictably was told the next day that it had won ₹5,000. I chose not to check this out lest it be true!

Should one of his customers ever bag a bonanza, the ticket seller will never let you forget this fact. Or, to tempt you, he will rattle off the names of his customers who have won smaller prizes recently — never mind if you don’t know them from Adam! Sometimes you ignore him only to be assailed by a twinge of uneasiness — have you bypassed a chance to become wealthy?

True, the chances of hitting the jackpot are very remote but the possibility of winning one of the numerous smaller prizes does lure people. Of course, missing a bumper prize by a whisker can be acutely disappointing as some will tell you. Yet, millions of people are incurably hooked on lotteries, hoping that someday Lady Luck will smile on them and enable them to realise their cherished dreams. Indeed, some of my friends even buy lottery tickets guided by their weekly astrological forecasts.

Today there are far more lottery ticket sellers around than ever before, making one wonder whether they outnumber their customers! It’s hardly surprising, though. For didn’t a poet wax eloquent, “Hope springs eternal in the human breast”? It’s a truism on which lottery ticket sellers bank for a livelihood. Indeed, it’s the fulcrum on which lotteries — and all involved with them — operate.

gnettomunnar@rediffmail.com


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Printable version | Aug 3, 2021 11:08:55 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/the-dream-sellers-of-kerala/article34737894.ece

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