Not too long after the price hike on petrol, I met an elderly lady friend on her way to the wet market near where I am residing. While exchanging pleasantries, she lamented on the increase of prices on some essential food stuff.
"Aiyah... you know now everything so expensive, lah ! Flour has gone up 70 - 80 cents. Rice is so dear and some vegetables also have gone up in price. How to survive, like that? I ask you."
"Poh Poh, don't you know the price for car oil (petrol) has increased to RM2.70? It used to be only RM1.90 per litre." I replied.
"But I don't see how I have to suffer because of that. I don't drive a car and what has car oil to do with food? Now, I worry for my children and grandchildren. They all have families with children in school. How to tahan like that?" She muttered.
How do you explain the economics of price hikes to an 80-year old lady ? Will she understand the domino effect of the increase that will inadvertently affect everyone? That food prices will increase because transportation charges has gone up in tandem with the petrol hike? It's like a vicious cycle .... with no end and no beginning.
The rebates doled out to vehicle owners seemed to have pacified the masses who were thumping tables earlier. The papers was full of happy smilingy faces of those who received the rebates - RM625 for cars 2000cc and below and RM150 for motor bikes. I wonder how long before these same people will start complaining again when they finally wake up to the reality of the full impact this drastic price hike is causing. It's quite obvious they are still in a semi-state of shock and were temporarily sated by the 'generosity' of the rebates.
I didn't see Poh Poh for a couple of days after our last meeting (she normally goes to the market every other day) until this morning. She was smiling and seemed to be in a happier mood. I asked after her health and she said she had never felt any better. When I asked why she had not been going to the market lately, she turned and said: " I don't go so often now. You want to know why, or not? If I don't go so often, I save money, mah. If I go, I end up buying so many things which end up not used. Such a waste of money, lah!"
Smart move, Poh Poh. She may not have grasped the whole picture but she certainly is wise.
We can all learn a lesson from her - SHOP SMART and BE FRUGAL in such times. Poh Poh has been through good and hard times and she definitely is a survivor and like the bamboo - which knows how to bend with the wind instead of against it. The Chinese has a saying : "Horse died, get down and walk " (say this in Cantonese). And so it is, when things get tough, one don't sit and whinge. Get on your feet and do something about it.
In every situation, there will be people who will try to make a quick buck out of the given circumstances. Case in point : Just as many traders who have not increase prices on their wares, there are also those who will "Strike while the iron is hot". It's not everyday you get to add to your profits. Right?
I remembered I saw a documentary on drought-stricken Seregenti National Park in Tanzania, Africa. Many waterholes were drying up and the animals in the Park were on the verge of death.
What amazed me then was, they all shared what little water they had - foes and friends alike. The lion was drinking together with the impalas (African antelopes).
Strange how even animals have the sense to co-exist in harmony when a crisis arises. Their need to survive over- rule their inherent nature and allow both hunter and prey to put aside their differences so that they may live to see another day. Can we say the same for us - human beings?
Need I say more?