Allegedly| Society

Magic masala

I never believed a day would come when I could write the following sentence without irony: I feel happier, more empowered, and more on top of the world than ever before. My self-esteem, which has traditionally hovered a few feet below the Mariana Trench, is at a historic high — floating several metres above the Statue of Unity. My shuffling gait is gone. In its place now is a majestic swagger that fills onlookers with awe and anti-nationals with dread. But the biggest change is in my self-confidence. From being someone who always tended to doubt his decisions, I am today an audacious embodiment of aggressive arrogance enacted with assured aplomb.

So what is the secret of my transformation? In one word: saffron. In April I got a call from an old friend who used to run a successful Ponzi scheme, better known these days as ‘financial services company’. But during the lockdown, he decided to shut it and start a saffron accessories business.

Change your life

“What kind of accessories?” I remember asking him.

“Since masks are in big demand right now, we’re starting with saffron-coloured masks,” he said.

“How does the colour of a mask matter?” I said.

He shook his head. “You won’t understand. Wait till you actually try the product. It will change your life.”

“Hahaha,” I said. “A mask will change my life?”

“Not only will it change your life, it will also change your life chances,” he said.

“While you’re at it,” I said, “you might as well promise me that it will restore my achhe din and drop ₹15 lakh in my bank account.”

“That too, provided you buy all the accessories to the saffron mask.”

“What accessories?” I said.

“We will also be manufacturing saffron scarves, saffron caps, saffron neckties, saffron bedsheets, saffron headbands, saffron arm bands, and saffron socks,” he said. “Don’t worry, I’ll send you a free sample of each.”

His promised samples arrived last week. I tried them out. And believe it or not, they have transformed my life.

The first time I saw their full transformative power was at the PSU bank where I have an account for the sake of address proof. The staff there is of three kinds: the rude, the indifferent, and the somnolent. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve taken a token and stood in queue for 45 minutes, only to be told, when I finally reach the counter, that “system is down, come tomorrow.”

Highly potent

But this time, when I walked into the bank wearing my saffron mask, saffron headband, and saffron scarf around my neck, a hush fell over the usual crowd of pointless cash withdrawers, obsessive-compulsive account openers, and serial passbook updaters. The counter clerks stood up one by one and welcomed me with folded hands (the traditional Indian greeting). Everyone — even the security guard — smiled at me. The branch manager rushed out of his cabin to touch my feet (also a traditional Indian greeting). Then he ordered filter coffee and rasgulla for me, and yelled at his minions to fill up my forms and get the job done “asap as possible”. For the first time in my life, I felt like a ‘preferred customer’.

As I was driving back home from the bank, I was so distracted by the novel experience at the bank that I hit a pedestrian, and he fell. I wasn’t driving fast. So, while he wasn’t dead, he was furious. But as I got out of the car to check on him, I saw his expression change. The anger slowly drained from his face, like intelligence from the brain of a TV news panelist. Then there was a jump cut, and he was giving me a big, goofy grin.

As I came up to him, he folded his hands (a traditional Indian form of apology) and said, “Entirely my fault, sir. Wonder what I was doing on the zebra crossing. Please forgive me. I will bear the full expenses for the treatment of my injuries and compensate you for the non-existent damage caused to your car.” I was stunned. For the first time ever I was the undisputed victor of a conflict situation on a Delhi road.

That evening, I decided to try out every one of my friend’s product offerings, and I have to say, all of them are highly potent. My migraine disappears every time I wear the saffron headband. Kattabomman’s nursery teacher pays him more attention during the Zoom classes on the days I wrap his head in a saffron gamcha. Morning walkers proactively, and respectfully, move aside when they see me marching towards them in saffron socks. And since I started using a saffron bed sheet and saffron pillow covers, my nightmares about India’s democracy, judiciary and economy have stopped completely. So if you are feeling a bit low, broke, unemployed, hungry, or COVID-positive, don’t worry. Just remember: there’s nothing that can’t be fixed with a little bit of saffron.

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Printable version | Nov 26, 2020 1:08:11 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/magic-masala/article32752457.ece

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