What's the cost of money?

Written by Harsh Jegadeesan on 11:36 AM

'trrr..trrr.trrr', the alarm on my mobile was hammering my head! oh its morning so soon', I cribbed! My head was still heavy, by cosy bed becokned, but I had no choice. I had to catch my shuttle to work in another half hour, I had slept very late after my routine conference call with an important partner on the other end of the globe :) Thanks to technology and special thanks to 'Google Talk', I was spending 'zilch' for this everyday conference call. Imagine spending a 'fortune' on international calls everyday for couple of hours, I would have gone bankrupt by now!

As I got up to get ready, the conversation I had with my partner was 'live' in my head. Suddenly, I faintly heard the tender coconut seller tell me last night 'Sir, seekarum kudinga, veetukku poganum ellam enakaaga kaathu kedapaanga sapdaama' (Sir, drink fast, I have to go home, everyone would be waiting for me for dinner' in Tamil). I saw excitement in his eyes to get back 'home' after a long hard day. I got reminded of the last time I had dinner with my parents. It was '3 months' back when I had gone back home down with hepatitis. The last time my family (My parents + my brother + I) had a meal together was '2 yrs' back. The last time I celebrated a 'Festival' with my family was '7 yrs' back before I went to Pilani (one of the Top institutions in India) chasing my dreams to attain immortality. Here, I saw a 'Tender Coconut Seller' not making a 'million bucks', but still extremely happy with family in his own means! Was there something fundamentally flawed in what I did all these years, far from family, far from loved ones? The dark clouds of suspicion covered my mind, it burst and resulted in a heavy downpour. I quickly took shelter in the thought that "C'mon, thats what the whole world does in this generation, look at people who go away in early 20's to the land of opportunities and never come back". They go out early to fend for themselves, to fight for their future, search for the utopian world where 'money' would buy them all that they want.So what if they had to do a few small sacrfices of staying away from family, staying away from their roots? They do it for 'betterment' afterall !" . So I told myself, after all staying seperated for a few years is a 'Sacrifice' that I do to reach the 'pinnacle of life', to attain immortality. I felt a bit relieved that the whole world was with me and I was not 'alone'. As all this happen, I am still in bed and my alarm snoozes again. I get up with a sudden shock, 'I am getting late!'. I took a quick shower forgetting all that happened a while back. The 'present' was more denser and hence was above all transcedental thoughts. I quickly dressed up and left home. I walked fast to take an auto to 'Mayo Hall' from where I board my shuttle. I got into the auto and told the driver 'Jaldi Jao!', a word that has become synonymous with the present generation! During the course of the '10 min' auto ride, I saw huge billboards, 'Super S.I.P from Meril Lynch', 'Take advantage of the Mid-Cap boom, invest in SBI Mid-Cap'. All these bilboards re-assured me that the whole world was indeed with me. As we moved through Bishop Cotton Boys School, I saw young kids being dropped by parents. I remembered those days, it was great staying with family. So many people caring for you, eating home food, people paying attention to your whims and fancies. It flashed images of the past in front of my eyes. Those wonderful ol' days!

As I reached my bus, I quickly jumped out of the auto. I had a few minutes to board the bus. I looked at the auto meter, it showed '20.50'. Oh! wait, does it not take just 13.50 every day, I just realised the auto driver had pledged his 'honesty' for a few bucks more! I just smiled, told him 'Your meter is hot!' and he gave me a mischievous smile. I paid him according to the meter and got into the bus.

I settled down with my mp3 player playing 'anthragini' with the 'Business Standard' in my hand. The headlines read 'Sensex zooming! is this rally real?', a booming market is a real good news and it really doesnt matter whether you have invested in the market or not! The hot acquisitions were 'eBay takin over Skype for $2.6 billion', 'Oracle taking over Seibel for $5.85 billion'. Working for a competitior to Oracle, I was always keen to watch their consolidation moves!

All this while, my BIG luxury bus was cruising at 30 Kmph in the Bangalore traffic :( I thought I will take a small nap. As I closed my eyes I could hear strange but faint noises, I wondered where the noise was from. It was from 'within'. My heart and mind was still in deep conflict, a conflict started by what the tender coconut vendor had said last night. It reminded me of a presentation that was circulating in the corporate email networks. Chandu (a good friend at office) had sent it to me as well. It said

"Money can buy food, but not hunger,
Money can buy a bed, but not sleep,
Money can buy sex, but not love "

How true it seems! But I am sure it does not change anyone's perception. After reading such presentations, for a minute we're touched, but it lasts just for a minute and we get back to our routine. All this makes me wonder how 'costly' money is? It costs us relationships, It costs us love, It costs us the happy present. I swear any investment banker worth his salt would fail to arrive at a valuation for any of these. After all 'Cash is King!'

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