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     Volume 8 Issue 66 | April 24, 2009 |

  Cover Story
  Current Affairs
  Neighbours - When   all of India goes to   the Polls
  Neighbours - Manoj   Tiwari: “Gorakhpur’s   Obama”
  Food for Thought
  Art -Art   Extravaganza
  Art -Lines and   Splashes that   Speak of   Individuality
  Star Diary
  Book Review
  Write to Mita
  Post Script

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Soaring Up to Cloud 9 and Diving Down to Reality

Narmin Tartila Banu

My eyes bulged seeing the 5 digit numeral on the price tag! Was I mistaking the code number of the kamiz for its price?

No, it was indeed the price!
The set I was admiring so far, didn't look all that appealing now. The fabric was quite ordinary, so ordinary in fact that even I could make it.

All it really takes is finding time out of your busy schedule. Then you mix a little bit of this with a little bit of that and clamp a scandalous price tag to the fabric and pray for a rich dimwit to come pick it. Five such sales per day, and you can actually call yourself a successful entrepreneur, running a successful boutique!

Hmmm… Now there's a thought. What's stopping me from launching such a venture of my own? Time! Where'd I find time out of a nine to nine job?

Why not quit?
Yes, quit!
And then what?

I could take a bank loan as start up-capital. I have some knowledge from b-school. I just might convince my mother-in-law to let me borrow her garage for floor space. I could get an aunt I knew from my dad's village to send me a few girls to do the sewing etc. -- all put together, it'd not be so difficult… and at the same time I could also run a fast food joint -- my mom's cold beef sandwiches are a class apart. It'd be such a shame not to make business out of it! So people can shop for clothes upstairs and eat food downstairs… my brain cells swung to hyper gear and started churning out ideas so fast that I almost felt dizzy. And eventually I chided myself for not having this brain wave a lot earlier; I could've become quite a rich lady by now who could afford skiing vacations in Switzerland every six months!

I didn't meander through the boutique anymore and quickly made a getaway, eager to reach home and start working on a sole proprietorship business plan and writing my resignation letter. I googled for a while and came up with an exhaustive list of items to keep in mind before plunging into a venture of one's own.

Eventually, I was tempted to check out a high end model of a cell phone that I just might be able to afford after I pocket my first million from the thriving boutique-cum-food place. (By now I was more eager to focus on what will come after the boutique is successful, rather than devising a good business plan for it).

Somehow my search engine directed me to another news of the same company. Nokia, plans to cut 1700 jobs globally from many departments including mobile phone, marketing, corporate development and global support… or so said the headlines on chinatechnews.com. Ouch, I thought! Poor people, losing jobs would mean a tighter control over their monthly bills, luxurious purchases, even visiting pricey hangouts! I wished them well and moved on to another page.

As if on cue, the next article showed just how Starbuck's number of consumers are dwindling for the last few months, as they are forced to gradually clamp their wallets shut. The astronomical growth of the popular coffee chain had screeched to a gritty halt, as consumers are preferring coffee from McDonald's rather than succumbing to the ambient and pricier Starbucks experience. And in the process of lapsing out, giving Mr. Schultz a run for his customers, as he quickly scrambles to reduce costs of coffee per cup in an attempt to retain existing customers!

The next news that popped up was nothing above dismal either, Schwarzenegger's state was also suffering from the pandemic disease called unemployment, hovering at the edge of 10.5%. In other words, the Golden State's unemployment now stands at a staggering 1,950,000. I read this next bit of news glumly.

Something was wrong. I was getting bad news from all across. “At least 600,000 jobs could go in the UK in 2009, according to a report by a personnel managers' professional body” read the introductory line under a 2008 BBC website headline, screaming “Dire warning over 2009 job cuts”

I wasn't hearing the hullabaloo over job losses for the first time. It had been evident since last year when star students from my school days, returned home from the West to join jobs with salary scales not much different from those friends who were schooled here! But in the cocoon of familiarity, sitting from the comfort zone of a job I never realised that the plague called job cuts just might eventually creep into my country, and possibly my company!

And what would happen at the end of it? Will the government try to pump in money to the mass population in the form of a stimulus package? Obama has successfully pushed through his ambitious $825 billion stimulus package to combat the historic economic downturn a move fraught with speculations. How would it work for a nation like Bangladesh, where much talked about schemes such as the Uttara-3 and Purbachol Plot Allocation projects initiated ages ago are yet to see light of day!? Even the thought of the possibilities of a stimulus package consisting of aids for individual households, and the ensuing chaos that the attempt is likely to trigger, made me nervous.

I frowned, what's up with me today? Here I was planning to quit my job and sail to a seemingly greener side. It's evident that there is no greener side. Who would come to purchase a ludicrously high priced outfit when purchase decisions are revolving around more necessary commodities like rice and lentil for instance?

I quietly closed the word document where I'd started typing 'Dear Sir…'

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