30/08/2015 8:44 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST

Why The News Doesn't Scare Me

Sack of onions, Kerala, India
Keith Levit via Getty Images
Sack of onions, Kerala, India

If ghost stories don't scare you anymore, your newspaper will. According to them, we are doomed. The rupee is flirting with 66 to a dollar, onions with Rs 80 to a kg and crude oil with $40 to a barrel.

As it happens, my newspaper tried to spook me with all the bad news at its command. But because it is an unfailing annual exercise, I'm not scared anymore. It is that time of the year when onion prices kiss the skies with the notoriety of Mika locking lips with Ms Sawant. I know I can easily scrape through the onion crisis if I don't party for a month. Experience tells me that when the new crop hits the market in September, life will go back to chopping onions.

Just when I decided not to worry about chopping onions, the global markets turned choppy. My newspaper threatened me with apocalyptic headlines -- Monday Mayhem, Markets in a Tailspin, Bloodbath on Dalal Street, Global Jitters, Commodity Crash. No, Sir. I refuse to be terrorised.

See, the good thing about not being too rich or too poor is that you don't really care if the rupee deflates, crude plunges, gold gains or commodities crash. Who cares for the devaluation of the Yuan unless you are planning a vacation to China? Who cares for the plummeting rupee unless you are planning to send your kid abroad? Who cares if gold glitters unless you are Bappi Lahiri? And who cares if Washington apples, imported chocolates, kiwi fruit or imported liquor become more expensive, because those who consume them don't really care about a few bucks here and there.

The mayhem on the water-logged street next to my house bothers me more than the mayhem on Wall Street. Moreover, the thing with onions and stocks is that nobody really knows how high the onions will go, or how low the Nifty will settle. Nobody really knows if the present crisis is a buying opportunity for both -- onions and stocks.

During such episodes when news tries to unleash fear, I withdraw into the most familiar, comfortable place -- optimism. Since I am a firm believer of what goes up, comes down, tears of joy trickled down as wholesale onion prices dropped sharply this week. The markets obliged too, albeit marginally.

There are other drivers for my optimistic streak. You see, bad news is a headline but gradual improvement is not. Since onions make me misty every August, I refuse to cry at the dinner table. Plus we've been in recession for a decade, so how much worse can it get? The fear about the flight of capital does not bother me as there is no other market in the world with as many consumers bursting at the seams. And the crude oil can go wherever it wants, because I just cannot drive on Gurgaon's potholed roads. When you have nothing to lose, nothing scares you, right?

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