Tuesday, October 18, 2005


A post after a long while.....I was unable to post for the last few days as I went home and the modem there committed suicide!

Anyways, back in business now in Kharagpur, I have a few things to cheer about. And one of my favourites is the Monkai story.

For the uninitiated, Monkai da is R.P. Hall's fruit-seller. And in addition to the fruits, he is also supposed to sell all other edible stuff like chips, chocolates, biscuits, etc. But what is probable and plausibe for us need not be for the greater good of humanity. This exactly was his opinion about his shop. All the fruit-sellers all over the campus keep a huge variety of eatables and make enough profit. But he somehow chose the divine path.

He decided that it will be better if he did not keep many things, kept them as shabby and old as possible and behaved badly with the students. For this purpose he chose to keep the shop open as less as possible (lest some students come in to buy something), and keep the shop as empty as possible. On entering his shop, what one can expect to find are a month old oranges, a few packets of mixture, a few biscuits of local companies and a few other 'profitable things'. These 'profitable things' include mixture, chikki, and a few types of biscuits. I choose to refer them as 'profitable things' as his perception of profit was to sell things as expensive as possible. As he had little say in goods marked with M.R.P., he chose to sell most of his goods loose at a premium price. What gets sold for Rs. 4 just anywhere else in the world, he would price at Rs. 10, sometimes even Rs. 15! But if some of my friends are to be believed, his ultimate motive was far more complex that earlier thought. There is a very famous true story in this reagrd.

Once, a friend of mine went to the shop to buy some chikki (one of the rare things that he sold that actually found buyers). This annoyed Monkai so much that he said: "What is this? Every time I bring chikki, you people come and finish it (by buying them). This won't do. I am not bringing them from this time onwards". I request any person in the whole blogoshere who understood the philosoply behind this message to please enlighten me.

Anyways, the story went on with a few twists and turns. Those one-off incidents involved a thrashing from the Warden to improve (timing and quality), and one incident in which a student stole his diary in which he kept records of dues from students. The whole story took a new turn this September when the G. Sec. (Mess) took an initiative to give him an ultimatum. He was presented with a long list of items that he had to keep in stock as well as strict timings that were to be adhered to. Everyone knew instantly that this is the end of Monkai. Although the list wasn't very extravagant (most hall's fruit shop even sell more), we knew that Monkai couldn't make it. To add to his misery, a register was kept to record any breach of the ultimatum. Not to much surprise, he faltered. Remembering the list brings into my memory another incident.

My friend Vikas Chandan once visited my hall and decided to buy a Dairy Milk Chocolate. Although Suman warned against it, he reasoned: "How bad can it be?", and went ahead for the purchase. Inside the shop, he couldn't locate any chocolate. Upon asking for it, Monkai took out a bar from an obscure corner. Vikas asked: "Why don't you keep it in display? That way it will sell more." To this he replied: "Its my shop. I will decide where to keep which thing." Vikas was silenced. And eating that was the worst thing Vikas could have done then. It was lumpy and sticky mass that was a duplicate for sure.

Coming back to the story (as well as from home), I was pleasantly surprised by a notice inviting tendors for fruit-shop and informing that a one month notice have been given to Monkai to clear the shop. The RPians couldn't have asked for a better Durga Puja gift.

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