Home > Magazine > ChaiTime > Fun Time: BUYING IN BULK CAN SOMETIMES BE RISKY



Compiled/partly written by Melvin Durai Email Compiled/partly written by Melvin Durai
October 2020

When I’m grocery shopping, I’m not always happy to see different sizes of the same food item. This means that I need to make a decision: should I buy the larger quantity or the smaller quantity—or perhaps even the medium quantity?

There are several factors that go into this decision, but two of the most important ones are the rate of consumption within the household and the rate of decay of the food item (whether or not it is perishable).

Rice, for example, is consumed in great quantities in many Indian households, but might otherwise last forever. You can buy a 100-lb bag of rice and leave it in your will for your great-grandchildren.

It shouldn’t be surprising, then, that my wife and I usually buy the biggest bag of rice we can find in the grocery store. The bigger the bag, the more we save. Not only is the unit price lower, I can also do a little weight-lifting and save money on a gym membership. This weight-lifting doesn’t just happen on the way home from the store, it also happens within our house, whenever my wife says, “Can you get the rice for me?” She makes this request several times a week, perhaps eager to have a muscular husband.

My wife loves rice so much that if she won 100 bags of rice in a contest, she would be ecstatic, elated and other e-words. It would not matter if the amount of rice exceeded the amount of space in our kitchen. “Just fill our bedroom with rice,” she would say. “We’ll never have to buy rice again. We can sleep on the rice if we need to.”

While she undoubtedly has sweet dreams of this scenario, I have nightmares. It’s not that I don’t enjoy rice—it’s just that I prefer not to eat rice at every meal. One of my strongest culinary desires involves the occasional appearance at our dining table of a chapatti or naan.

Thankfully, I don’t have to worry too much about my wife winning 100 bags of rice, but there’s another scenario that I should probably be concerned about, thanks to the Twitter account of a writer named Shiv Ramdas.

Shiv recently live-tweeted an incident that happened at his sister’s home, somewhere in India. His brother-in-law got tired of making frequent trips to the store to buy rice, so he decided to order some rice in bulk from a warehouse. But there was some kind of misunderstanding, resulting in a truck filled with rice showing up at his home. Needless to say, his wife (Shiv’s sister) was soon berating him like he had accidentally set her saris on fire.

“If you have never heard a woman destroy a man with one sentence 25 times in a row, you should meet my sister,” Shiv tweeted. “She’s terrifying. I’m on the phone and I’m scared and she isn’t even angry at me.”

So how did Shiv’s brother-in-law solve this problem? He ended up negotiating with the truck driver, using a mediator, and instead of buying the entire load on the truck, agreed to buy “only” 23 sacks of rice. The driver also received two bottles of liquor for his trouble.

I can’t help wondering what my wife would do if a truckload of rice arrived at our house. She would be upset that we needed to pay for so much rice at once, but after the initial shock, she would be a little excited. The first thing she would do is go shopping—for the biggest rice pot we can afford.

“We can’t eat that much rice,” I would say.

“Don’t worry,” she would say. “You don’t have to eat it. I’m going to feed all the homeless and hungry people—the ones who will truly appreciate my rice dishes.”

If you receive rice in bulk, the best thing to do is feed people in bulk.

Compiled and partly written by Indian humorist MELVIN DURAI, author of the novel Bala Takes the Plunge.

[Comments? Contributions? We would love to hear from you about Chai Time. If you have contributions, please email us at melvin@melvindurai.com. We welcome jokes, quotes, online clips, and more.]

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